In recent years there has been a growing movement to end period shame and celebrate all things menstrual health. But like any movement, we need to keep pushing in order to see real change. Here are just a few reasons why we need period positivity - and how we can keep pushing for it!
Why we need period positivity
Our menstrual health impacts all areas of our lives - and a lack of period positivity can have far-reaching effects on everything from our careers to our physical well-being.
Periods and society
Historically and especially within main secular religions, periods and those experiencing them at the time, have been seen as “unclean”.
We still see this in action today, where in some countries girls and women miss out on work, and schooling and are even banished from their homes because they are on their period. But even in Europe and countries like the UK and US, period poverty, access to choice and education and period shaming are still a big problem and stop people with periods from getting the support they need.
Periods and health
When topics are off the table or are misrepresented then it means access to relevant education, choice and proper healthcare is too.
Right now there are people all over the world who are too afraid to talk to their doctor, who do not have access to safe and hygienic period products, and who are putting their bodies in sometimes dangerous situations because of the stigma and lack of education around menstrual health.
Did you know that it takes people with endometriosis an average of 8 years to get diagnosed? Or that the majority of people still feel uncomfortable talking about period symptoms with their doctor? Period shame is putting people’s health at risk and this needs to change.
Periods and the workplace
Over the last few years, the idea of ‘bringing your whole self to work’ has been embraced. This thankfully means that we are now having more open conversations around mental health and that we are becoming more aware and inclusive of people’s unique identities. And yet periods still feel like a taboo topic in the workplace. 23% of people who menstruate take time off work because of period health issues and 80% of them lie about reasons for their absence if they are period related.
We spend a third of our life at work, so that shouldn’t be somewhere where we are feeling embarrassed or self-conscious about a perfectly normal bodily function. Menstrual health is intrinsically linked to our overall health - and if we can't be open and honest with our bosses about our struggles, it can hold us back from not only having a successful career but feeling happy and supported whilst building one.
How we achieve period positivity
The road to a more period-positive society is a long one - but there are things we can do to help move the dial!
Use period-positive language
One of the reasons there is still so much negativity around periods is because of how we talk about them - or don’t talk about them. Language helps shape our world and the way we talk about our periods holds a lot of bearing on how they are seen in society.
If periods are seen as “gross”, shameful and secretive then that means:
- Those who have them are made to feel gross and ashamed
- People will find it more difficult to access the education, products and support systems they need
- You never know when an open conversation can help someone close to you, without even realising it.
So how can we speak more openly and positively about periods? Firstly, let’s drop the euphemisms (here’s looking at you ‘Shark Week’! Avoiding words like “period”, “menstruation” and even “blood” means that we see them as “bad” or “gross” words, thus perpetuating the shame around them.
It’s also important to be inclusive because people who menstruate aren’t just cis-gender women who look like the model on the tampon box (Check out our blog post on gender and period care products.) Lots of different people menstruate and it’s crucial that they are made to feel just as much a part of the conversation.
Knowledge is power! Especially when that knowledge spreads and ends up in the hands of those who really need it the most. There is so much misinformation when it comes to menstrual health, so taking control and learning about your body (and sharing the facts with others) is an important step into helping us feel more empowered and in control.
Still not totally sure when to use the word vulva or vagina? Or what exactly is going on during the whole of your menstrual cycle? You are not alone, don’t worry. Now is the time to own that period knowledge! Check out the Learn section of the Lunette website and our blog for more.
Find local organisations
You’d be surprised what is already happening on your doorstep in the name of #PeriodPower! Whether it’s places you can donate to, promote or support in whatever way you can, you never know what a difference you can be making for someone.
On your next coffee break have a quick Google around or see which organisations are using the hashtags we mentioned earlier.
Can’t find anything? Start your own! Most of these great initiatives started off as a small group of like-minded people who just wanted to collect and donate supplies to food banks or charities. Any contribution makes a huge difference to someone.)
Because when we change laws and legislation, we change the lives of everyone, not just a few. For example, not long ago Scotland became the first country in the world to promise to provide period products in all schools, colleges and universities and Spain recently became the first country to bring in paid menstrual leave. Our voices and votes really do matter!
Make sure your representative in parliament is keyed up on these issues, attend protests and keep spreading the word.
Vote with your wallet
When you buy products from a brand you are also supporting its missions and values. So be sure to choose companies and organisations who you trust and have the best at heart! How are they talking about periods? Are they inclusive in how they talk about them? How do they support other organisations and charities?
Look after yourself
...especially during your period! We can’t change the world in a day and sometimes the little stuff we do is enough. Even by reading this blog post, you’re taking the time to support an important movement and that’s a great thing.
Remember, we can help others most when we feel at our best in both body and mind!