Let’s Get One Thing Straight…Women Don’t Bleed Blue!
We are currently seeing a long over-due movement to improve our discussion and understanding around women’s menstrual health. Despite this, it appears one of the biggest menstrual health industries, sanitary hygiene companies, still have a bit of catching up to do.
If you’ve ever seen an advertisement for women’s sanitary items you may be mistaken for thinking that having a period is fun, that women spend a lot of time walking around in nice underwear, that we should still have the energy to exercise, attend work and social events, and that we bleed BLUE!
Huston—we have a problem. I’m (not) sorry to say, but blood is red and periods get messy sometimes, and that’s NORMAL! Heavens, we may even leak through or stain our underwear. Hence most women don’t have pillow fights in their best underwear, but will keep a low profile whilst in their “comfy- wear”. We cramp to various degrees, feel fatigued and some women are simply miserable during their periods.
Many women don’t have the energy to exercise as they menstruate, and this is also NORMAL! In fact, in terms of our menstrual health, women should be keeping exercise minimal during their period. Images of sweaty, glowing gym babes is sending women confusing messages about how to care for their bodies during their period.
Women are lead into thinking we must continue with our normal work, exercise or social routine during our period, however this is not appropriate in supporting female hormones. Pushing through when the body craves rest is doing more damage to your menstrual health than good and may even be contributing to your period pain!
For decades there has been much taboo around the subject of periods. Women are supposed to hide the fact they menstruate each month, keeping symptoms quiet. Recent studies are now finding that women are too embarrassed to reveal the real reason they are taking sick days, which is simply due to embarrassment and the inability to explain the discomfort they are experiencing. After all, according to sanitary advertisements, we should still be on top of our game whilst menstruating.
What’s worse, we have young girls feeling too ashamed to discuss their periods with their parents or teachers, especially when caught unprepared.
Until recently (and much thanks to wonderful organisations like PeriodTalk who are changing this), even education around the subject of periods has excluded boys from these conversations. For years we have maintained the dated mindset that this a topic private to women. Again, this generates a sense of embarrassment and shame and women are unable to disclose to their male colleagues or even partners as to the discomfort they may be experiencing.
Pain is not normal, but it’s common!
The truth is, women ARE experiencing discomfort, and on a large scale. We are now seeing a massive increase in women experiencing some form of gynaecological condition, like never before. Research is finding that at least one in four women experience distressing menstrual pain characterised by a need for medication and absenteeism, and over 80% of women are experiencing PMS symptoms.
Severe conditions such as endometriosis and PCOS are now common, yet still take on average 8 years before full diagnosis. This is mostly because of lack of education and conversation around the subject of menstrual health and what is normal, or not. Women either believe that pain is normal, or don’t feel comfortable revealing their symptoms to others, assuming they need to just get on with it. It’s when these symptoms aren’t addressed, that underlying health conditions are compounded and become more severe.
It’s time for better education and for change!
Whilst extreme pain and cramping is not normal, it’s important women are provided correct information in terms of period symptoms. It’s this false representation of what a period should look and feel like and how we should manage it, that has left many women confused.
As we move towards generating better awareness and education on the topic of menstrual health, it’s important that medical practitioners and commercial industries in this area of women’s health keep it realistic and provide an opportunity for further, transparent discussion and education.
Ladies, here’s the truth…
- There is no shame in resting during your period, particularly if you do experience pain and discomfort.
- Our moods, emotions and even energy levels will shift with the hormonal changes we go through and that’s also ok.
- Continuing to attend cardio gym sessions may actually cause you more harm than good during your period—particularly if you’re prone to pain and cramping.
- Oh… and women DON’T BLEED BLUE!
If you’re interested in learning more about how to care appropriately for your body during your menstrual cycle to help alleviate pain and discomfort, contact me today for a short consultation.
Dr Alison Howes
PhD Applied Science | Registered Yoga Australia Teacher
Trauma Release Qualified
Level 1 Shaman
Specialising in Women’s Health