In my previous post I started to speak about menstrual education, an area of schooling I think we can all agree that we’ve seen lacking.
I think that any dedicated session talking about menstruation and focusing on destigmatisation is fantastic, highlighting that this is normal and not shameful and is clearly going to have a huge impact on what is taken away from it.
The thing that is tricky after living with a period for so many years is that you sort of forget just how little you knew, things that sound glaringly obvious to us now were not always a given.
For instance, that you can pee with a tampon in because you don’t pee out of your vagina.
Or that you can’t swim with a pad, but you can with a tampon.
I think it is important to give a somewhat thorough explanation of what os actually going on when you have a period too.
Not so thorough that we get into hormone levels, but that the uterine lining thickens for the egg to embed in, and if the egg isn’t fertilised that lining needs to be removed from the body, which is what your period is.
I think speaking frankly about what a period is like is valuable too, not only is it helping to ease anxieties around beginning your period but being open about what you experience is a powerful tool against the shame perpetuated around periods.
Being able to sit there and say, yes I have a condition that makes my periods pretty bad but also I’ve always gotten a sore back and the week before my period I tear up really eaisily.
It’s also about recognising what is normal and what isn’t.
I say it to everyone, but you know your body.
If you’re in extreme amounts of pain, go to a doctor.
And if you don’t feel satisfied by their response, see another doctor.
As someone who has endometriosis, a disease that takes on average 7 – 12 years to diagnose, I feel very strongly about this.
No one is giving out medals for toughing it out and staying silent.
I also think we’re past the whole ‘here is a pad, here is a tampon and BEWARE OF TSS’ shtick.
There are so many different alternatives to pads and tampons being made more and more accessible, period undies and menstrual cups deserve a walk through too (especially now that you can buy them both in Woolies).
And I’ve talked about this before but TSS is not the Grimm Reaper it is so often made out to be, and we owe it to kids to inform them accurately before they fly into a panic because they left a tampon in for eight hours.
Past that we spent a lot of time talking about our attitudes and privilege surrounding menstruation.
We talked about ways we can help if we see someone experiencing a leak, as leaders in the school, as peers and as friends how can we help.
Extending from that we watched a few clips on period poverty and knowing where sanitary products are in the school whether we need them for a day we get caught by surprise or need to take some home.
Passing out period packs at the end of the session multiple boys took a pack to put in their school bag, so they are able to help if someone else needs it.
If that doesn’t just warm your heart I don’t know what will.
Because of my existing relationships with the kids I have worked with, there were spots in the program that we just discussed things they wanted to know.
I didn’t feel the need to do a question box where they could submit queries anonymously, I just asked at the end of each ‘section’ and at the end and answered those who raised their hands as we went along.
This included birth control, a conversation contributed to with their existing knowledge of the pill and the bar from some of their mums and older sisters.
These are still primary school students, so we discussed that yes, one thing these can do is stop you from getting pregnant, but also can help with out of control periods, acne and conditions like endometriosis.
We also busted a few myths from being completely safe to swim at the beach without fear of sharks and that we don’t really ‘sync up’ (which is kind of a sad one to learn as an adult).
This is only a fraction of the infinite possibilities, but it’s a great place to start and the kind of information I wish I was given.
Is there anything I’ve missed that you think is an essential?
Let me know!