Periods and why women should be able to talk about them openly
Updated: Jun 8
Oh. It’s that time of the month. Again. Whether it’s the cramps, the hormone messes or that armada of products used to contain the “flow”, none of it all is very glamorous. That’s probably why people don’t talk about it. That’s probably the problem.
Women, that’s 50% of the population, menstruate for an average of 3000 days in their lifetime. That’s almost 8 years… So they are a pretty common thing! On top of this, periods are a natural and healthy occurrence, they are just your womb functioning and shedding its lining. It happens most commonly for 4 to 8 days per month, under the control of female sexual hormones, but can vary widely between women. The job of this lining is to be ready to welcome a pregnancy. Overall periods remind us that a woman’s body is so badass it can nurture and grow an entire baby! And that’s pretty cool, right?
Why is it then, that according to a recent survey in the UK, nearly half of girls aged 14 to 21 are embarrassed by their periods? Periods are a big part of women’s lives and should be open to discussion!
To help you get the conversations started, we’ve listed 3 people you can go have a chat with about your menstruation!
I was having a coffee with a school friend of mine and generally catching up on life, when she suddenly told me, out of nowhere that her periods used to be terrible, I was first puzzled: since when is this casual topic of conversation in a busy Costa after work? But with second thoughts I realised you know, why not? Why wouldn’t it be a normal topic of conversation? Why would it be awkward to discuss something that’s so important to both of us? In fact, important to all women? And recently I’ve started more and more conversations with friends about their periods, all sorts of talk about experiences, pain, menstrual products... These conversations make me realise that a girl is never alone with her periods, others have similar experiences and problems, and talking about them allows us to share information or tips. Every woman has a different cycle, so what is “normal” for other women might not be for you, but it might help you to reflect on your periods. Thanks to some open conversations I had, I was able to try new methods to manage my flow, such as the menstrual cup or period underwear. Some friends who had experienced different methods of contraception helped me understand how these might affect my period. Finally, I found that in reality, my period seemed to be much more irregular than other girls, which was perhaps something I should get checked!
There’s a reason it’s called “girl’s problems” right? That’s probably why tampons and others are hidden from views in bathrooms -I mean honestly how can a male possibly face the sight of them? Ok but all irony aside, men can be really understanding and open to conversation, after an initial shy phase. I’ve initiated conversations about menstruation with male friends and I was quite surprised with their positive responses. Some of them were a bit clueless, some knew a bit more on the subject, but all understood after our discussion that periods can be very important for a woman. Being open to a conversation around the topic means that guys can ask questions and understand their female friends better! Also, it’s definitely worth involving your partner in discussing your period as your cycle may affect how you feel at different parts of the month. The hormones of your cycle can affect your irritability, your energy levels, and your sex drive, which may affect the people who live around you! Understanding this will help them understand you better!
Endometriosis UK shares stories of girls who suffered for years with terrible period cramps, chronic pelvic pain, and missing out on school and activities for days due to their abnormal periods. These girls and young women didn’t reach out to their GP, as they didn’t know these symptoms were not normal or didn’t think the GP could help. It is so important that you have a chat with your doctor about your menstruation if you have any concern or even just a question, nothing is too silly or embarrassing! Perhaps it’s how often you have your period, or how long they last, how heavy the flow is or how much pain they cause. Perhaps nothing is wrong and it is just understanding what is normal for you, or perhaps there are some things that need to be investigated further. Either way, a little check-up will allow you to clear up the issue and understand your body better. Your doctor wants to know! It is worth getting that appointment!
Purpose Print Summary
We hope for a world where it is not taboo to mention the subject at home or in the work environment. A world where women will not be judged for expressing they have a period any more than someone would be for expressing they have a headache. Sometimes it seems women are expected to shed their womb lining and bleed out without uttering a word. To endure cramping pains, backaches, fatigue and hormone changes behind a closed door in silence. After all, a period is a normal and necessary function in life for women worldwide. If we talk about periods, we have a chance of understanding them and understanding each other! We have a chance of accepting and progressing!
Convinced? Tell us in comments who you’ve recently chatted to about your periods!
Written by: Marianne Gazet (Purpose Print Team)
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