I consider myself to be very comfortable discussing the topics of periods, vagina’s and generally anything to do with women’s health however I wasn’t always like this. I didn’t suddenly become a moon worshipping hippy either. I would really, I mean really avoid the topic, I hated my period with a passion and couldn’t wait until the menopause. At the time if you had told me that I would be the Director of a company specialising in making periods, healthier, happier and greener or that I would be having open discussions with complete strangers and men on the topic of menstruation. I probably would have asked you what on earth you were smoking! But here I am 6 years down the line telling you that we need to have more of these conversations. Why? Because I have been astounded by the lack of education and awareness around menstruation and women’s bodies. I’ve talked to countless women that have put up with painful gynaecological issues because it’s considered to be just part of being a woman, from a global perspective this holds Women and girls back. NGO’S have known for years that the lack of access to menstrual products stops girls from attaining their full potential in education. But times are changing NGO’s are investing in girls and access to affordable menstrual products with campaigns such as the just a tampon campaign that went viral on twitter. Disposable feminine hygiene companies are taking notice and changing the way they advertise their products, such as the recent ad campaign from body form, they finally ditched their blue liquid. About time to!
It’s time we ditched the bloody taboo surrounding women’s bodies and it starts with having open conversations. You don’t have to talk about the nitty-gritty details of your period to your colleagues or friends but you do have, to be honest. If you have period pain just say so don’t make up an excuse or say you’ve got a headache. I started by just saying when I was in pain and not making up excuses, after all, surely it should not be any surprise to anyone that I have a menstrual cycle. I stopped hiding my menstrual products and caring about whether or not someone new that I had my period, I was quite literally buying out of her societal shaming and taboo around menstruation, my attitude and view around my body and periods changed. I learnt about my menstrual cycle and how to spot when I was fertile and I went back to my GP and demanded that my painful periods be properly investigated.
At first, I was very nervous and slightly embarrassed to talk to men about what my company did/sell but I quickly got over my embarrassment as I found that men responded with great interest and for the most part with positivity. Most of them omitted to me that they didn’t really have a clue about what happened to women every month because they weren’t educated on it as young boys. I have found that men are really receptive to the idea of cloth pads and menstrual cups and are rather grateful just to have an open discussion without being told that it’s girl stuff and to keep their nose out of it.
My job has allowed me to have many, many conversations around women’s bodies and menstruation with both men and women. If we talked about women’s bodies without shame or stigma there might not be as many women putting up with painful gynaecological issues, if we taught girls how to spot when they are fertile and to be more in tune with their bodies and menstrual cycle there might not be as many teen pregnancies and maybe there wouldn’t be so many girls suffering from endometriosis or PCOS in silence for years because we are taught to believe that period pain is just part of being a woman. With so much to gain from having open conversations isn’t it about time that we put aside our British priggishness and started talking?