Press Release: New research finds lack of support for periods creates mental burden for women and limits their participation in school and work.
New research finds lack of support for periods creates mental burden for women and limits their participation in school and work
A new study by academics at The University of Western Australia, Burnet Institute and The University of Leeds reviewed 3800 people’s experiences of periods. They found that women experience a mental burden that affects their relationships and ability to participate in employment and education, as well as sport and religious activities because of their periods.
Cultural beliefs and the shame and secrecy that surround periods contributed to the challenges, as did struggling to access menstrual products and barriers receiving support from healthcare workers. Many seeking help for a menstrual disorder described being dismissed by healthcare workers or being told their pain was normal. However, a positive interaction, where support was received, greatly improved women’s experiences.
Jen Moore, who is experiencing challenges accessing care for a menstrual disorder in the UK said:
“I know first-hand how urgently action is needed on this issue. A couple of years ago my period pain became almost unbearable to the point where I could hardly leave bed for three days a month. After months of feeling that I was just being over dramatic and ordering myself to get on with it, I called my doctor who dismissed my pain as ‘just’ bad periods. Fast forward a few months and multiple calls to doctors about pain which was continuing to severely impact my emotional wellbeing…it came to light that I have multiple large ovarian cysts and preliminary indicators of endometriosis. About 7 months ago I was referred to a gynaecologist but still haven’t heard anything back and have just learnt to manage my pain which now persists throughout the month.”
Study author Dr Dani Barrington said: “The model we’ve developed can be used to inform research, policy and practice decisions. We emphasise the pathways through which negative menstrual experiences occur, encouraging policy makers and practitioners to direct resources where they are most likely to improve the lives of those who menstruate.”
Emily Wilson, CEO of leading menstrual health charity, Irise International, said:
“There is increasing recognition that inadequate support for periods is holding women back all over the world. This research shows that this is happening in low and high income contexts alike. More investment is urgently needed to understand and address these challenges so that we can unlock the full social and economic potential of women and girls, particularly as we look to a rapid and resilient recovery from the pandemic.”
The study authors, Dr Dani Barrington and Dr Julie Hennegan, and CEO of Irise International, Dr Emily Wilson and Jen Moore are available for interviews. Please email [email protected] with requests.