Why don’t we talk about periods and menstrual health? Does the language of menstrual health come easily to you? Or, does it fill you and your teen with dread? Imagine how it would feel if you had more confidence when talking about periods and menstrual health. Not only could you reduce overwhelm and anxiety, but you would be enabling the next generation with a menstrual health toolkit like never before. Fiona Catchpowle is passionate about teaching everyone the essentials of menstrual health, beyond the bleed. Here she has written an exclusive article for MumAbroad Life. Her aim is to develop the fastest most effective way for everyone to learn about Menstrual Health.
The way the world now talks about menstrual health has shifted in the last 12 months.
#PeriodPositive movements, #PeriodPoverty and sustainable period products have been making headlines across the globe.
However, whilst this is welcome news and the conversation is now reaching workplaces as well, I notice that ‘menstrual health’, with a lifetime filter, is still not getting the air time required to make a lasting change. The actual bit of the cycle when we bleed is now leading the way on the topic, but what about the other 21ish days of the cycle?
Periods are not easy to manage, no matter how long you’ve been experiencing them. Each one is different and brings with it its own set of challenges. But the focus of those 7 days, from what to wear, and what to use to collect the blood, leaves us out in the cold when it comes to understanding menstrual health as a whole.
The process of menstruation and reproduction has been taught in schools for many years, in terms of what age it may start, how to manage it and how a pregnancy may occur.
However, the context of what is happening physiologically and psychologically is not given the time it deserves for menstruators to take on board the shift in hormones, and how they will continue to change throughout their lives. Looking ‘beyond the bleed’ opens up a whole new perspective.
In fact, the menstrual cycle is a complex mix of hormone changes that reflects a person’s overall health status. Along with blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate, it’s like the 5th Vital sign. The hormones associated with periods are incredibly powerful, every single day, and need to be considered in terms of physical and psychological health too.
Menstrual irregularities can indicate hormonal imbalances, or infections. Stress, changes in weight or diet and other lifestyle factors can cause temporary changes in the menstrual cycle.
There is so much more to the menstrual cycle than we are led to believe when we first learn about it, and after that intrepid first conversation, no one takes the time to have a second, third or maybe fourth conversation about the full impact of the menstrual cycle. As such most menstruators reach adulthood with little or no knowledge of hormone health and biological transitions such as perimenopause and menopause.
Mending the menstrual health knowledge gap needs to begin with those at the start of their menstrual health journey. This can only happen if those mentoring them, most likely parents or carers, have the relevant and meaningful information to share with them.
If you’d like to learn more, visit this link* and grab a copy of my Talking Periods Starter kit – for the bit beyond the bleed.
Join the conversation with other parents who want to create a positive mindset around periods here on the Facebook group Talking Periods for Parents.