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CORONAVIRUS|504 views|Oct 7, 2020,09:30am EDT

A Third Of Parents Feel Awkward Talking About Periods During Coronavirus, Study Finds

Alice Broster Contributor

Healthcare

I write about women’s health and reproductive health

Hand holding tampon on pink background with sanitary napkins, paper cut female reproductive internal organs and blood drops GETTY

The average age to get your first period is 12 and most people will remember their first. Whether you learned about the menstrual cycle during health class, your parents or the internet, it’s likely it felt like an impending catastrophe waiting to whip you and your friends up. As the years go on you learn the patterns of your menstrual cycle. However, the resources and information you receive initially are crucial. A third of parents said they feel awkward talking about periods to their children. Stigmatizing periods in the home can have a serious impact on wider attitudes and how people see their bodies. It may also prevent people from asking for help increasing the prevalence of period poverty.   

It’s estimated that the average person will have around 450 periods in their lifetime. That may not seem like too many but it equates to about ten years of your life. October 10 marks National Period Day. It’s not only seeking to celebrate how far education has come surrounding menstruation but also completely destigmatize periods.

It may be hard to pinpoint where you got to grips with what your menstrual cycle entailed but it’s likely your schooling played a part. As many students spent time outside of the classroom during the pandemic a study found that 40% of parents felt more responsible for teaching their children about periods. However, a third said they felt awkward doing so. Recommended For You

Sanitary product company, Always spoke to 2,030 young people aged 13 to 17. They found that 13% felt like they’d learned less about periods while being at home than they would have if they’d been at school during lockdown. While this resistance to talk about periods and puberty in the home may feel like a normal reaction, it can seriously contribute to stigma outside of the home. 

Research by the non-governmental organization WaterAid found that 50% of the people they spoke to between the ages of 14 and 21 said they wouldn’t go to the doctor if they were worried about their period. A quarter said they’d describe their period as embarrassing and a fifth went further to call menstruation “gross.” One in four didn’t know what was happening the first time they had a period. 

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How you speak about periods can either normalize them or add to an idea that they’re shameful and should be dealt with in secret. WaterAid found that one in four of the boys and young men they spoke to said they’d mocked periods and one in seven people said they’d been teased about their periods. This doesn’t only have a serious impact on your self-confidence and the way you see your body, it can also translate into being too scared to ask for help when you need sanitary products. 

WaterAid found that one in five people would be too ashamed to ask for products if they needed them. Charities and organizations have already expressed that period poverty has got worse globally since the beginning of the pandemic. Period poverty can be described as when people don’t have access to safe products and resources to manage their periods with dignity. 

Research conducted by Always found that one in 25 of the families they spoke to said they were struggling more during the pandemic to pay for period products than they had been before. One in ten said they were worried about affording products in the future. 

Similarly, Plan International UK found that due to price increases and shortages of sanitary products during the pandemic there has been a rise in period poverty around the world. 73% of the health professionals they spoke to said there’s restricted access to products due to shortages and disruptions in the supply process. A spokesperson for Always said, “It’s shocking to see so many unable to afford basic period products…while the pandemic has clearly had a financial impact on a number of families, the broader impact it has had on everyday life should not be ignored either.”

The only way to fight period poverty is to destigmatize periods. By having open and honest conversations at home about puberty, as well as where people can access the products they need, it breaks down the silence and secrecy that still exists surrounding periods.

Originally posted on Forbes on 10/2/2020

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