Growing up I heard period horror stories from multiple female figures in my life. I was dreading the day when I too would have a story to tell. Then, on Friday the thirteenth of my sixth grade year, it happened. And believe it or not, it wasn’t the life changing moment I had anticipated. Well, that is until I found myself perplexed about how I was going to smuggle my tampon to the bathroom after recess.
Unfortunately this situation I continue to find myself in is not rare, for society has deemed menstrual cycles too vulgar a topic to be discussed in daily conversations – despite their impact on everyday life for half of mankind. According to a study conducted by Thinx, 71 percent of women feel the need to conceal their feminine hygiene products on the way to the restroom. Additionally, over half of men believe that confabulating about periods in the workplace is vile and inappropriate. What’s the big deal? It’s just a period.
Perhaps people are afraid that they will be shamed for talking about periods, or maybe the thought of the so-called monthly visitor is simply unsettling. Either way, it is time we normalize conversations about periods.
We must destigmatize menstrual cycles, not only in the United States, but all around the world. The lack of conversation about periods has left many young women uncertain about what is happening to their bodies, especially in countries similar to those in Sub-Saharan Africa. A study by the World Bank Group shows that 10 percent of young women in these countries will miss school while on their period. This adds up to about 20 percent of the school year that they will not take part in. Many young females just dropout all together when they reach menarche. This is probably because they don’t have feminine hygiene products, or their families are too ashamed of their daughters’ periods to let them go to school. This problem is multifaceted; however, the first step in solving it is rather simple – talk about periods.
Talking about periods may feel uncomfortable at first, but it will allow us, as a society, to confront issues regarding menstruation that would otherwise remain in the dark. You can start by more openly discussing your menstrual cycle, or trying not to feel embarrassed when purchasing menstrual products. Furthermore, make sure that young girls know that it is a normal part of life and nothing they should feel ashamed of.
My days of stuffing tampons up the sleeves of my sweaters are gone. From now on, I will hold my tampon confidently by my side when I go to the restroom. I hope that you will too.
Brannagan , Toni. “How You Can Overcome Period Shame.” Thinx, Thinx, 19 Sept. 2018, www.shethinx.com/blogs/thinx-womens-health/overcome-period-shame-swns-infographic.
Klass, Perri. “When Heavy Periods Disrupt a Teenager’s Life.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 13 Jan. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/01/13/well/family/teenagers-heavy-periods-menstrual-cycle-menstruation.html.
Lusk-Stover, Oni, et al. “Globally, Periods Are Causing Girls to Be Absent from School.” World Bank Blogs, World Bank Group, 27 June 2016, https://blogs.worldbank.org/education/globally-periods-are-causing-girls-be-absent-school