How to Discuss the Menstrual Cycle Without Feeling Ashamed
Sun, April 18, 2021

How to Discuss the Menstrual Cycle Without Feeling Ashamed


For girls, having periods is one of the biggest changes they have to undergo during puberty, according to Raising Children, an Australian parenting website. The menstrual cycle affects hormone levels in the ovaries and uterus. Most girls will have their first period when they are between 11 and 14 years old, though it can occur anywhere from nine to 16 years old.

If she still hasn’t had her period by 16, you should consult your child’s GP. There can be several reasons why her periods have not started yet and the GP can rule out any medical complications. Since periods can occur as early as nine, it is best to talk about the menstrual cycle to your daughter early, recommended Mayo Clinic, an American non-for-profit organization.

Women Are Ashamed of Their Periods (2018)

Feminine hygiene company Thinx commissioned a survey that involved 1,500 US women and 500 men, cited Olivia Petter of The Independent, a British online news website. 58% of women admitted to feeling ashamed when they menstruate. 42% of women experienced period-shaming, with about 20% or one in five being made to feel shame because of comments made by a male friend, mentioned Daily Mail, a British middle-market newspaper.

12% of women have been shamed by a family member and about one in 10 or 10% have experienced period-shaming from a classmate. 44% of men said they made a joke or comment on a partner’s mood when she was menstruating. At work, 51% of men believed it is inappropriate for women to openly mention their menstrual cycles.

73% of women hid a pad or tampon from view on their way to the restroom and 65% wore specific clothes that would not show a leak if they menstruate. Further, 29% canceled plans such as swimming or exercising that may reveal they were on their period.

Aside from shaming, 62% of women admitted that they felt irked by using the word “period.” In fact, 47% of them used more “palatable” names for their periods, with 87% using “time of the month,” 37% stating “monthly visitor,” and 34% calling their periods as “mother nature.”



British Women Don’t Know What Happens During Their Period (2019)

The respondents were asked which, if any, of the statements best described what occurs in the body during a period: Toxins are flushed out of the body, sperm in the uterus is removed, old blood is replenished with new blood, or the lining of the uterus is shed, said Victoria Waldersee of YouGov, a global public opinion and data company.

35% of men and 14% of women failed to answer the correct response: “The lining of the uterus is shed.” 13% of men and 7% of women answered “old blood is replenished with new blood.” 14% of men and 3% of women do not know the answer and 2% of all respondents answered, “Toxins are flushed out of the body.” 6% of men 2% of women answered none of these.

The survey also highlighted a lack of understanding of at what points during the menstrual cycle it is possible to impregnate a woman. 16% of women and 11% of men thought it is impossible for a woman to become pregnant just before, during or just after her period. Meanwhile, 29% of men and 11% of women don’t know. 45% of respondents said it is possible for a woman to become pregnant one or two days before or after her period.28% said it is possible during her period.


4 Ways to Discuss Periods With Your Daughter

1.     Talk Early

The menstrual cycle can be an awkward topic, but don’t let awkwardness or shame hinder you. You can plan a series of conversations— if your daughter starts asking questions about the menstrual cycle, answer them openly and honestly. If your child did not ask anything, it’s up to you to initiate the conversation.  

Share your experiences and clarify any misinformation. You can teach her how to use sanitary pads or tampons and what to do when she gets her period in school or camp. This also includes when to change and how to dispose of pads and tampons. “It’s really important to talk about it early and often and not wait until your child comes to you with questions,” Nora Gelperin, director of sexuality education and training at Advocates for Youth, told news and opinion website HuffPost, cited Taylor Pittman.  

Ask your daughter if she has questions. Talking about periods help ease “unfounded fears or anxiety.” If there’s no female parent and you feel your daughter would prefer to talk with a woman, you can ask her female relatives or a female friend for help.

2.     Take Advantage of “Teachable Moments”

Discussions about periods can come from TV, a movie, the news, or a trip to the grocery store. Let’s say you are walking down an aisle that is lined with tampons and feminine products, you can ask your daughter, “Have you seen these things before?” Gelperin suggested. How about sons? It is also important for boys to participate in such discussions to gain more knowledge about the menstrual cycle.



3.     Follow A Hands-On Approach

Chicago-area sex ed teacher Kim Cavill recommended allowing children to take a closer look at pads, liners, menstrual cups, and tampons. She added, “There’s no reason why you can’t bring those things out and just demonstrate how they work with a cup of water and food coloring if you have it.”

Fight any feelings of discomfort or shame when demonstrating these products. Chances are, your kids are incognizant of period shaming. You should also talk about the emotions and stigmas about menstruation to “break down the taboo,” said Bonnie J. Rough, author of “Beyond Birds and Bees: Bringing Home a New Message to Our Kids About Sex, Love, and Equality.”

4.     Highlight Differences

Remind your daughter not to worry when her friends begin to menstruate or if their periods seem different. Tell her that everyone’s cycle length and flow varies and it can even vary from month to month. It is also important to help your daughter track her periods on a calendar or by using a period tracker app. Tracking periods enable your child and her doctor to diagnose any possible menstrual disorders or other health issues.

There’s nothing shameful about periods because it is a normal process in the female human body. Girls and boys should be knowledgeable about the menstrual cycle and should be taught not to be embarrassed about it. Periods only become taboo when it is not openly discussed.