More Than Half the Population Experience Them, So Why Are Periods Taboo?

Monika Kozub

Welcome to POPSUGAR Uninhibited, a space where anyone with a period can come for advice, recommendations and support. Here, we’ll tackle topics like PMS, sustainability, post-partum periods and bring you first-person experiences in our period diaries. We also want to raise awareness around period poverty, with the aim to ignite change with the help of our launch partner Modibodi and charity partner Share the Dignity. You can find all of the stories here

There are currently 25 million people living in Australia, and over half of them get their period every month. That means over 12,500,000 have a regular menstrual cycle. So the question remains, why is there so much stigma surrounding the word “periods”?

It’s 2021, and while we’ve come a long way from our grandmother’s time when they would hide all evidence of getting their period, it’s still not a topic that is openly discussed in a public setting. Periods are completely natural, yet we still hide our tampons in our handbags when walking to the bathroom.

Until recently, advertisements for pads used blue-coloured liquid to show the effectiveness of their product. Parents often choose to keep quiet about the topic of menstruation until the day their kids go through it for the very first time. So yes, we’ve come a long way, but we still have a fair bit to go.

There should be nothing shameful about getting your period, instead, the body should be celebrated for going through the motions — cramps, backaches and hormonal changes included. The stigma around menstruation is a form of misogyny, and the deeply rooted negative connotations have made people believe that your period is something to be ashamed of.

That shame can lead to much bigger problems, namely period poverty. According to Share the Dignity’s The Bloody Big Survey, the lack of conversation about periods can be detrimental to those who menstruate. A whopping 40 percent of people surveyed said they had changed to a less suitable period product due to cost, and 49 percent wore a tampon or pad for over four hours because they didn’t have any more to use.

The report revealed that 23,307 participants always hide anything that will show they are on their period, and many keep their sanitary items tucked away while shopping, so no one will suspect that they menstruate. But there is good news on the horizon, because it seems period pride is increasing with each generation.

The report mentions that children as young as seven and eight get their period, so it’s incredibly important for them to see positive representation on screen and in classrooms. In term three of 2019, the Victorian Government began providing free pads and tampons in every government school across the state. South Australia and Tasmania quickly followed suit, but there is still a lot more progress to be made.

One way to help is to take part in Share the Dignity’s Pad Up Public Health campaign. Unfortunately, in public hospitals across Australia, there is no access to pads or tampons, making it a difficult experience for patients either during their period or recovering from childbirth. 

Share the Dignity spoke to multiple people and asked them to share their experience, with many saying they had to rely on the kindness of nurses or midwives to give them a pad from their own supply.

#PadUpPublicHealth calls for State and Federal Health Ministers to introduce free period products in all public hospitals.

Download the template letter here to send to your local MP and/or state and territory Health Minister.

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