Hey!! Over the past month, I have been thinking a lot about periods. I was thinking back to when I first got my period - I was ashamed and nervous to tell anyone I had started menstruation. This was not a feeling unique to me; most girls I know are still embarrassed about their periods. Why is that? Why are women taught that the most natural part of their bodies is something to be humiliated over? Why are periods so stigmatized in our society and what can we do about that?
Well, to be honest, I don’t know when and why periods became such a taboo subject throughout time. It makes no sense to me. It’s a natural regulatory system, like digestion or sleep, but as a society, we treat it so differently. I have always felt like I had to hide my tampon or pad within the sleeves of my shirt on my way to the school bathroom. I have always been so nervous about wearing white pants on my period out of fear I might bleed through my tampon. I have always skipped sports practices while menstruating because I was too ashamed to ask to take breaks due to period cramps. I have always kept period related pain to myself.
Part of the reason I have always felt so embarrassed to talk about menstruation is the way students receive period education in schools. If taught at all, menstruation is typically taught in sex education classes rather than in biology classes. There is already so much stigma surrounding sex education - students feel uncomfortable discussing reproduction. Thus, when we teach menstruation under this already awkward topic, children begin to associate periods with being shameful and embarrassing. So, schools should shift their period education models. Instead of teaching menstruation in sex education classes, it should be taught in biology classes. I really do feel as though this shift in education would destigmatize menstruation.
That said, everyone must act to normalize periods. Girls and women shouldn’t have to suffer through menstrual pain in silence or associate shame with their reproductive health. If comfortable, women should share their period stories and solutions. Non-female identifying individuals must be allies and ready to listen, as well. Let’s talk periods!
This is so brave and helpful to read as a woman!!