Talking about periods can feel uncomfortable — but here's why it's so important
Posted: April 05, 2023 | Word Count: 815
Millions of people experience menstrual periods, so why is it difficult to talk about it? Unlike other normal body functions, people still find it uncomfortable to discuss menstruation due to longstanding misunderstandings and biases. This taboo makes it hard for women to have conversations with friends, family members, and even their healthcare providers. As a result, many with abnormal periods may not realize their experience is atypical, leading to delayed diagnoses of medical conditions, delayed implementation of treatment options and a longer impact on their daily life, unnecessarily.
Myovant's new video series, "Menstrual Mysteries — Mothers and Daughters Talk about Periods," aims to open the conversation around menstruation, inviting everyone to share their experience. By breaking the silence, we can help to normalize periods and reduce the shame and embarrassment that many people may feel. This, in turn, can help to promote better menstrual health. By enabling conversations about menstruation, people may learn about patterns that may reflect specific health conditions that could affect their well-being.
The video series is designed to expand women's knowledge about menstrual health, and to encourage everyone to make it part of everyday health conversations with family, friends and healthcare providers without embarrassment or discomfort, helping remove the stigma about periods. Normalizing conversations about periods can lead to a better understanding of a natural process that is a large part of every woman's life. Furthermore, discussing menstruation can help to dispel myths and misconceptions surrounding periods and educate individuals about their bodies and menstrual health. This can lead to improved menstrual hygiene practices, early detection of menstrual disorders, and better management of menstrual symptoms.
A national survey of over 13,000 Americans between the ages of 19-48 conducted by Myovant Science and Evidation Health in 2019 showed that about 1 in 5 respondents did not feel comfortable talking about menstruation with their healthcare provider, validating the existence of the stigma and taboo associated with menstruation and the need to do more to enable these conversations.
What is an abnormal period?
Sharing experiences with others can help you recognize when your experience is not "normal."
"Abnormal periods can look different for each person. Sometimes they may be too frequent or absent, too long, painful, or associated with too much blood loss," said Dr. Juan Camilo Arjona Ferreira, Chief Medical Officer at Myovant Sciences and a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology. "By empowering people to talk about their experience with menstruation, we believe we can help identify and treat conditions and improve the lives of people who menstruate."
Health concerns benefit from early diagnosis and treatment
Talking about your period as you would any other health issue can help you know what is considered a normal menstrual experience, allowing you to talk to your healthcare practitioner sooner. This can lead to much earlier detection of potential conditions, providing opportunities for earlier treatment. Menstruators should always feel empowered to seek care when necessary. Two examples of menstrual conditions that benefit from early diagnosis are uterine fibroids and endometriosis.
Too often, endometriosis is dismissed as a "bad period" or normal menstruation but is a serious medical condition that deserves attention and treatment. It can take between four to eleven years to get an endometriosis diagnosis. Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue like the uterine lining is found outside the uterine cavity, often causing symptoms like painful periods, fatigue, pain in the lower back and abdomen, heavy menstrual bleeding and even painful or difficult sexual intercourse. Endometriosis can impact your general physical, mental, and social well-being.
As common as uterine fibroids are, many suffer for years without a diagnosis or even knowing a diagnosis is needed. Uterine fibroids are usually noncancerous tumors that develop in or on the muscular walls of the uterus, most often in premenopausal women ages 18-49. Many women do not experience symptoms, but those who do may have a significantly negative impact on their quality of life. Heavy menstrual bleeding is the most common symptom. Other symptoms include pelvic pain or cramping associated with menstruation. Black women are disproportionally affected by uterine fibroids and are two to three times more likely to develop them compared to white women.
If your experience with periods affects your ability to conduct daily activities, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider. Every menstruator should be able to move forward confidently on their health journey.
Stigma around menstruation can discourage menstruators from seeking care. "Menstrual Mysteries — Mothers and Daughters Talk about Periods" is all about encouraging people to talk openly and honestly about menstruation, and showing that by doing so, we can help to create a more informed, empathetic, and supportive society. Watch the video series at http://bit.ly/3nJmUAp.
The video series and this editorial have been created by Myovant Sciences, a company that aspires to redefine care for women and men through purpose-driven science, empowering medicines, and transformative advocacy worldwide.