You'd think that in the 21st century, we wouldn't be afraid to discuss periods. It's something that half the population will have to deal with for more than three decades of their life. Yet we often treat menstruation as something secret and shameful. Tennis player Heather Wilson blamed losing a match on having her period, and other players noted that this is something rarely discussed in sport. But there's a lot to be gained from talking about it more openly, and not just in the sporting world …
When you have a period, it's tampons or sanitary towels, right? Well, the Mooncup is growing in popularity among women keen to find an economical and green answer to dealing with their periods. Talk to other women, and they'll be able to tell you about their experiences with alternatives like the Mooncup and how best to use one.
Some women are lucky, and don't experience many problems with their periods. Others suffer bad pain and symptoms. The more that we talk about this, the greater the chance of hearing about ways that you can cope with problem periods. Discuss it with friends, pharmacists and medics, and they can suggest things that work for them or that you can try.
If you have a male partner, are you comfortable sending him to the store to buy you tampons? If you talk openly with your partner about your period, he'll learn to accept that it's a normal part of a woman's life. Not only will he be comfortable buying you tampons, but he'll understand when it's making you feel rough. And if you have daughters, he'll be happy buying them tampons too when they need them!
Women make up a high proportion of staff in most workplaces, yet their needs as women may not be recognised. While you wouldn't want to shout it out in the office that you've got your period, discussion with co-workers and management can help to have female needs catered for. For example, you might need to have more breaks to use the bathroom, or a dark uniform so you don't have to worry about leakage.
As much as we don't like to hear men blame things on us 'being hormonal', there's no doubt that menstruation does have an impact on our lives. It's not just sportswomen who can have their performance affected by their menstrual cycle. If we discuss it openly, we can find ways to reduce the impact it has on our lives.
A generation ago, periods were even more 'hidden' than they are now. My mom told me absolutely nothing about them; I had to learn from other sources. But girls now are more comfortable about discussing their bodies, which is a positive step. The more we talk about things like periods, the more comfortable girls will be as they grow up.
Menstruation is a fact of life, yet we're arguably more happy talking about sex than about periods. The more we discuss menstruation, the more we will come to accept this part of our lives. Bringing it into the open means we learn more about ourselves and will be less embarrassed and worried.
So talking openly about periods is a really positive thing. It's not a 'gross' subject that we should keep secret (just be sensitive about when it really not an appropriate time to discuss the topic!). How did you learn about periods - did your mom explain it to you, or did you have to learn from school or your friends?