Campaigners will this week increase pressure on ministers to add menstrual wellbeing to the national curriculum as part of the review of relationships and sex education.
Members of the charity Endometriosis UK will meet with education minister Nick Gibb on Wednesday to highlight research showing that 14 per cent of girls having their first period didn’t know what was happening to them.
They will call for “a series of simple-to-implement, age-appropriate interventions”, including a session at primary school, and sessions at key stages in secondary school designed to complement and build on what is already taught in science classes.
Charity chief executive Emma Cox said: “Nick Gibb has a chance this week to make a real change to the lives of thousands of women by introducing these sessions into the curriculum. Unless this happens, periods will continue to be considered embarrassing and taboo.
“When adolescents and teenagers suffer menstrual conditions such as heavy bleeding or endometriosis, their confidence and resilience can be damaged and their future will be affected from the school they miss and the impact this has on their education and future careers.”
Menstruation education 'will improve girls' lives'
The Commons Education Select Committee has already called for pupils to be educated about menstrual wellbeing and endometriosis, and the Department for Education is currently consulting on draft regulations for the introduction of compulsory relationships education in primary schools, and relationships and sex education in secondary schools.
Emma Hardy, Labour MP for Hull West and Hessle, and a member of the Education Select Committee, helped to arrange the ministerial meeting.
She said: “As a former teacher, I completely understand that teachers can’t be expected to remedy every wrong in our society but when such a large proportion of girls having their first period do not know what is happening to them, then the time has come to act.
“This is a low-cost, effective proposal which could help ensure that, as a society, we stop stigmatising periods and start talking about them more freely.
“Many, many young women could be saved years of unnecessary pain and worry if the minister agrees to change the curriculum and give millions of young women the power they need to ensure a better future for themselves.
"That is what I will be asking Nick Gibb to do on Wednesday.”