Why Don’t We All Know More About Periods?

I recently read a tweet where someone held the belief that period blood could be held in, just like urine. It reminded me that often if it’s not something you personally deal with, a person doesn’t get taught a lot about how menstruation works.

Period education is for everyone. Regardless of your gender, regardless of whether you menstruate or not, everyone needs to know about menstruation. Having a basic understanding of the regular function of the body is not only important in building one’s understanding of health and reproduction, but also helps deconstruct the stigma, shame, and toxic stereotypes we hold against periods and those who bleed.

Whether you are a teacher, a parent, or just someone learning about sexuality/puberty education, I want to give a brief glimpse of what the impact of teaching everyone about periods could be.

It shows that not only females need to know about periods

Not everyone that menstruates is a female and not all females menstruate. This is a big and important topic but one point to highlight here is that only teaching girls about periods excludes trans men/boys, non-binary, and gender diverse people from the period conversation. Period products are already almost exclusively marketed (usually in pink) toward women, but our education doesn’t need to be exclusive too.

Only talking to girls about periods frames menstruation as something only girls need to know about. Even if you are not a menstruator, learning about periods is still important. You might have relationships with people that bleed, maybe you might even want to have a baby later in life (in whatever form that may be i.e. IVF, surrogacy). Understanding periods is in some way relevant to everyone so we should teach everyone about this to leave them well equipped with this knowledge before they become adults.

It breaks stigma

There is a strong, sexist stigma that surrounds periods and especially how people talk about periods. Better education about periods will help stop harmful comments that any time a woman raises her voice or expresses emotions, “she must be on her period.” As if periods are something to mock or having feelings or being upset could only be due to something “female” and not someone else’s actions.

It can help reduce the feeling of shame or that periods are dirty and disgusting. It will stop this pervasive notion that periods should be hidden, that even advertising for period products can’t include a liquid similar to blood because that would be too graphic or gross. Maybe it’s even because periods are thought of as a “women’s” issue that society just simply doesn’t care about them as much as they should. Normalising conversations about periods and integrating menstruation into health education for everyone is a truly important step in removing sexist and shameful language about periods.

It improves healthcare

Having more people learn about menstruation, particularly those within healthcare can aid in the awareness and diagnosis of conditions such as endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), adenomyosis, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Poor period education has led to the normalisation of period pain and the harmful notion that people are “making the pain up” or exaggerating what they are feeling. For so long, people with conditions related to periods or their uteruses have faced many barriers within healthcare simply due to doctors not believing their pain or thinking it’s normal.

Understanding one’s cycle, contraception (particularly how contraception can affect your cycle and your mental health), period products available to use leads to more informed decisions being made about one’s health and how to manage periods. The more education on menstruation, the more people can know when they should be seeking medical advice, how doctors can help them, and what help they can access.

I could go on and on about each of these points but let them be conversation starters, something to read more about, and something to unpack your own feelings about periods. Maybe if more people across the world knew more about periods, we could be taking better steps to end period poverty. Education is empowerment, so the benefits of bettering the information on menstruation and the accessibility of that information are endless.

They hold such an important place in how we are all here, so I want you to ask yourself: why don’t we all know more about periods?

This microblog post was a featured post in #slowchathealth’s #microblogmonth event. You can search for all of the featured posts here. Please do follow each of the outstanding contributors on social media (including Joanna Anagnostou, the author of this post) and consider writing a microblog post of your own to be shared with the global audience of slowchathealth.com

Pair this post with the following:

Period Poverty and Menstrual Equity by Sophie Draluck

Tampon Tuesday by Leigh Cambra

Being an (Female) Athlete by Emily Zien

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