NATIONAL WOMEN'S HEALTH AND FITNESS DAY: It's time our periods were taken seriously
WHY PERIOD TABOO IS DAMAGING OUR HEALTH
In a generation obsessed with the latest work-out craze, us millenials are pretty clued up on the do's and don’ts of health and fitness. But when it comes to period health there’s a distinct silence amongst the ‘tweet everything’ generation. Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health have expressed concern that a "culture of silence" around vaginal bleeding, from puberty through to menopause, is failing the needs of us females, with many of us unable to tell the difference between a healthy and unhealthy period. Add to the mix Professor John Guillebaud’s comments that period cramping can be as “bad as having a heart attack”, it’s about time questions are asked on why our periods aren't being taken seriously.
Reaching to the back of the cupboard for a painkiller might help relieve your PMS symptoms for a few hours, but for some of us, the cause of cramps run a little deeper. New NHS guidelines in the UK say that women suffering with period pain should be checked over by their doctor for signs of endometriosis (aka endo) - a painful womb condition, which impacts 1 in 10 women of reproductive age and can have a long term effect on fertility. Endometriosis occurs when tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb is found in other places in the body. Symptoms can include extremely painful periods, chronic pelvic discomfort and pain during or after sex.
Endo' isn’t the only condition which is being shrugged off as “women’s problems”. The tragic case of 21 year-old Kirstie Wilson, who passed away following a brave battle with cervical cancer after initially being dismissed with “growing pains or thrush”, highlights a passive attitude towards women’s vaginal health. Radhika Sanhani, a writer for Telegraph Women, shared her concern that Kirstie’s tragic misdiagnosis isn’t a one off.
“A number of women tell me they’ve gone to their doctor in serious agony only to be sent away with painkillers and advice to ‘use a hot water battle when you have period pains’. For some of those women, that was all it ever was. But for those who kept going back to their doctors in pain – only to be told the same thing – it was eventually revealed that they were suffering from problems far more complex than period pain.”
Us women know our bodies. We know when something isn’t quite right and it’s important that we speak up and raise any questions we may have as early as possible. From period cramps to breast pain, or discomfort during sex, if you’re concerned about anything contact your local GP. You can also check out the websites below for information and advice on women’s health.