Hollister woman educates about menstruation

Carla Arrunategui-Smith aims to dispel myths and taboos.
Carla Arrunategui Smith. Courtesy of Carla Arrunategui Smith.
Carla Arrunategui Smith. Courtesy of Carla Arrunategui Smith.

Hollister resident Carla Arrunategui Smith has been a menstrual educator for just over a year and is working to get supplies to women who might not have access to them, including those who are homeless. She runs Menstrualiadas, an organization that offers women “opportunities to unlearn, co-construct knowledge and collaborate to normalize and destigmatize the menstrual cycle with empathy and solidarity.”

Arrunategui Smith believes and says on her website that the conversation about menstrual health and menopause should take place at all levels of society and that these conversations should inform the creation and implementation of public policy. 

Additionally, according the the website “the full range of menstrual experience, as lived by individuals of different genders, socioeconomic statuses, levels of ability, cultures, and more, should be represented in the menstrual education and activism narrative.”

Arrunategui Smith refers to menstruators as cis women, transmascunilities and non-binary people. She told BenitoLink that it can be even more traumatic for transmascunilities and non-binary to buy products, talk about menstruation or deal with menstrual hygene because they do not appear as cis women and they often use a gender conforming bathroom.

She said she believes that before puberty, all children should have accurate and age appropriate information about their body and the processes that take place within them. However, talking about the changes that happen during adolescence can be uncomfortable for some, especially in a society that as she says,“cloaks menstruation in silence and taboo.” The website also adds that “menstrualidas offers opportunities to unlearn and co-construct your relationship with menstruation, learning how we can collaborate to normalize and destigmatize the menstrual cycle with empathy and solidarity.” Carla Arrunategui-Smith reaches out to individual women and families. She says it is important for the whole family to understand the menstrual cycle.

Information about the workshops is here.

The website is available in English and Spanish and workshops cover:

  • Living the menstrual cycle from knowledge and agency
  • Unlearning taboos and myths
  • Recognizing pre-puberty and menstrual cycle processes

Arrunategui Smith ran a menstrual supplies drive in April to provide menstrual products to women who otherwise have difficulty obtaining them. Supplies were given to Community Solutions of Hollister and Next Door Solutions. Contact [email protected] for more information on donating menstrual supplies. 


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Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018 and covers Science and the Environment and Arts and Culture.