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Jane Bates: Tiresome taboo over period pains

It is time to stop being embarrassed about menstruation and show more understanding for those who feel they must endure monthly misery in silence, says Jane Bates

It is time to stop being embarrassed about menstruation and show more understanding for those who feel they must endure monthly misery in silence, says Jane Bates

Some of the expressions for having a period are amusing. As a Chelsea supporter, Arsenal are playing at home is a particular favourite.

But why is it such a no-go area to mention a womans monthly bout of bleeding? Why does it have to be couched in euphemisms? For goodness sake, in this day and age not much else is taboo, but menstruation is still unmentionable.

Not that we would wish to be labelled unclean as women were years ago and kept hidden

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It is time to stop being embarrassed about menstruation and show more understanding for those who feel they must endure monthly misery in silence, says Jane Bates


Picture: iStock

Some of the expressions for having a period are amusing. As a Chelsea supporter, ‘Arsenal are playing at home’ is a particular favourite.

But why is it such a no-go area to mention a woman’s monthly bout of bleeding? Why does it have to be couched in euphemisms?  For goodness sake, in this day and age – not much else is taboo, but menstruation is still unmentionable.

Not that we would wish to be labelled ‘unclean’ as women were years ago and kept hidden in a tent for the duration of our period, although unlimited Netflix and a pile of juicy novels might persuade some of us otherwise.

But come on, some acknowledgment that it is a tad inconvenient would help. Many of us are not at our best when we are menstruating, and that’s a fact. Some openness and understanding, please.

‘It is time the unmentionable became mentionable’

Of course there are those lucky women who sail through their ‘monthlies’ on two tampons and a twinge, but for most it is a different story. Periods are particularly difficult for nurses, which is strange when most of us are female and of child-bearing years.

Our working lives have no slack in them to accommodate adequate visits to the loo, and then there are the punishing 12-hour shifts when you have dysmenorrhoea and want to be horizontal and wrapped around a hot water bottle.

Nursing colleagues are not always sympathetic. One of my friends always fainted on day one of her period. Always. She went out cold, but her fellow nurses, rolling their eyes in disdain, would step over her prostrate form and ignore her. So much for the Sisterhood.

Menstruation is not an illness, but it can still inflict misery. It affects half the population for half our lives yet there is still embarrassment and shame attached to this normal bodily function. It is time the unmentionable became mentionable.


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire

 

 

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