Why does is matter that we educate our kids about menstruation?
Firstly, it matters because about 20% of teenage girls in Australia miss school due to period pain, according to Dr Susan Evans from the Pelvic Pain Foundation and secondly it matters because other girls are dropping out because they:
- Feel shame and embarrassment about their bodies
- Can’t afford to buy sanitary products
- Get teased
Girls’ education shouldn’t have to suffer because their bodies are going through one of the most natural processes known to humans. A process without which, we wouldn’t exist.
Currently, on the whole, most education on the subject in schools consists of one or two hour long sessions that involves a one way conversation involving an adult talking at a large group of kids about ‘sex education’.
Of which maybe twenty minutes of that time mentions purely the mechanics of menstruation (which to be fair is twenty minutes more than kids in India and Africa get). However, it’s still nowhere near enough time to teach kids the critical information about the menstrual cycle itself and the changes that occur each and every week that they should be receiving.
- It’s nowhere near enough time to explain that full on pain and suffering is NOT normal during your period and what signs to look out for and where to go to get help.
- It’s nowhere near enough time to discuss the environmental impacts of sanitary products or indeed talk about the different options available.
- It’s nowhere near enough time to unpack the impact periods have on kids from families with not enough money to buy sanitary products or kids in other countries who can’t afford them either.
- It’s nowhere near enough time to teach or even investigate the different cultures and traditions that are practised and followed around the world in relation to periods.
Even if you are getting some education, it can vary a lot between schools and even teachers because of resources and, back to our old nemesis, shame and taboo. Some schools talk about reusable menstrual hygiene options, however many menstrual education lessons only mention disposable options. Disposable options are more expensive, damaging to the environment, they also contribute to menstrual taboo by implying that menstruation needs to be hidden or is unhygienic.
Without proper education, not only are young people left feeling afraid and ashamed but they’re much less likely to spot important symptoms and get adequate help with menstrual health. If these issues are not spoken about enough and go undiagnosed, young people may have terrible symptoms without proper help and even face infertility issues.
Boys need to understand the topic just as much as girls do and at the moment, the current state of education on menstruation, is embarrassingly below par and that needs to change sooner rather than later.