Why we need to banish period stigma

Secrecy and shame around periods is slowly being phased out as more women talk openly about their menstrual cycle.

For the majority of Gen Y, growing up the word ‘period’ was only uttered when it referred to your class timetable. We didn’t discuss our monthly cycles and if we did it was only as a way to get out of PE lessons or swimming carnivals.

It was seen as something secret, somewhat shameful and not to be discussed. If you needed emergency sanitary products, you would whisper the request to your bestie and hoped that no-one heard it.

It’s a different age now, with Millennials openly discussing their menstrual cycles and how they deal with them. As well as pads and tampons, we now have new period products such as absorbent undies, menstrual cups and menstrual discs.

In fact, there are also women talking about anointing themselves with menstrual blood to honour that time of the month.

Self-care during your period

We need to stop treating our period as if it’s some natural disaster. Forget the shame game. And instead of dreading it, let's re-frame our period as a time to look after ourselves.

Many of us have messages hardwired into us that our periods are something to hide. But the fact remains that we do bleed once a month and we need to look at our menstrual cycles as so much more than nuisances.

It’s essentially how we make oestrogen and progesterone, which are not purely fertility-related hormones, but pivotal for our overall health. So when our progesterone and oestrogen levels start dipping during our period, take it as a hint to slow down and get those resources refilled.

Here are some of her favourite self-care tips.

  • Slow down - Everyone has different experiences when it comes to their period, but a good rule of thumb is to slow down because the chances are, you’re pretty damn exhausted.
  • Don’t overcommit - This ties into the above, but it is also something that we’re all prone to, so warrants its own spot.
  • Surround yourself with your tribe - Ensure morale is high by keeping your nearest and dearest around you.
  • Embrace the hot water bottle - If any cramps start creeping up, get better acquainted with your friend the hot water bottle, the heat can help relax the muscles and provide relief.
  • Get your guac on - Avocados contain a good wad of potassium, which can help with cramps.
  • Go for a walk. Outside - You may feel like nuzzling into a little ball on your sofa in your fuzzy wuzzy dressing gown, but getting out in the big wide world, preferably somewhere with trees and goodness, is a win for your mood, stress and energy levels.
  • Hit up the magnesium - It’s great for muscle aches, mood and sleep. Foods that are high in magnesium include green leafy veggies, dark chocolate, avocados, almonds, lentils, bananas and oatmeal.
  • Pamper yourself - While you’re slowing it all down, take a moment to focus on you and what makes you feel good. Perhaps it’s a face mask? Or a massage? Or all of the above.
  • Drink water - Keep that body hydrated and happy. It’s doing some important stuff, so help it do its job.
  • Eliminate potential stressors and be prepared - Make sure you’ve got the required supplies for your period. It sounds so simple, but we’ve all had to do the last-minute dash to the shops or ask a peer if they have any spare tampons.