Whether you found your first monthly cycle positive or negative (or even if, like the boys among you, you’ve never experienced one), betty’s latest survey proves once again that period knowledge is period power. It also verifies that a lack of education can cause shocking repercussions.
As part of our extensive research, we spoke to 2,000 women from across the UK to find out how they felt about their first periods, and whether they were well-enough equipped to deal with them.
Sadly, we had overwhelmingly negative responses. More than half the women felt scared and embarrassed, as well as so unconfident in talking about their first period that they couldn’t bring themselves to tell anyone that it had arrived.
Some 44 per cent of respondents also said they didn’t really know what was happening to their bodies, and only 57 per cent said they had received lessons in school about periods prior to their first time.
“At 11 years old I had no idea what was happening. I thought I must have cut myself! We had no sex education then. My mother explained afterwards that I’d be cursed with it every month for the majority of my life and gave me some huge, thick sanitary towels and plastic pants to wear for the next five days,” one woman revealed.
Another said: “Although I sort of knew what it was, I was really scared. I wasn't ready for it because it happened while I was in school and I felt quite ashamed.”
So, what did these women wish they could have known?
- How painful it would be;
- the amount of blood produced;
- how it would make them feel physically;
- the best ways to deal with it practically;
- how it would make them feel emotionally;
- whether their experience was “normal”;
- who to talk to for advice and information.
Although the wider dialogue surrounding women’s issues has improved in recent years, we feel as though periods are being left behind.
Of the women we spoke to, 72 per cent overall said that lessons about menstruation were awkward and embarrassing.
When you break it down by age, that figure actually worsens over time, with 76 per cent of 16-24 year olds saying their lessons were awkward compared with 70 per cent of over-55s.
Our conclusion? To tackle period education head on.
For more information and to get involved, visit bettyforschools.co.uk