This incredible milestone in the progress of menstrual health and endometriosis awareness is a result of Endometriosis UK’s Change.org petition to get menstrual well-being added to the curriculum as part of England’s newly revised and compulsory Relationships and Sex Education in Schools initiative.
The nonprofit has been campaigning for this change for several months through their 2018 Change.org petition and the #whatiwishilearned social media campaign, which asked all menstruaters to post what they wish they had learned about menstrual well-being while in school. Some of the stories were not only moving but also sadly demonstrated just how little menstrual health has been taught in schools. Given the average diagnosis time of seven and a half years in the U.K., it’s essential that schools properly educate young people so they’re able to recognize abnormalities indicating a condition such as endometriosis.
“I spent years of my life truly believing that painful, heavy periods were just what girls have to go through. Thought maybe I was a bit wimpy – none of my friends missed school. Or cried in pain. Or passed out. I just wish we were taught more than the absolute basics. Because if we had, maybe I’d have gotten help sooner at 14 when all of this started.”
By talking about menstruation in school and normalizing periods, we’ll begin breaking down the taboos surrounding the subject, giving people the courage to speak up and seek help when they think something’s wrong. In the U.K., 48 percent of girls are embarrassed by their periods. How many of them aren’t reaching out for support when they need it?
While details of the new curriculum have yet to be set, we know that the menstrual cycle will be taught in an age-appropriate way to all genders of both primary and secondary ages. Children and teenagers will be taught what’s normal and what’s not for the average healthy cycle. They’ll also be taught language with which to communicate to parents, teachers, and health practitioners, so they can clearly and confidently express any concerns they may have about their menstrual health. By teaching menstrual facts to all genders, stigmas will reduce in future generations and the new workforce will have a greater understanding of those employees with menstrually related conditions.
The U.K. has seen incredibly positive progress in the past few years. As someone active in the campaigning for these changes, it’s been so empowering to witness how the endometriosis community has risen to be heard and how the powers that be are finally listening.
On March 4, I attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women’s Health annual Women’s Health Parliamentary Conference, and I was bowled over by how much endometriosis was at the forefront of the conversation. Also pleasing was how members of the parliament unashamedly talked about heavy menstrual bleeding and periods.
I’m delighted by how much is really being done behind the scenes to move menstrual health forward. While it’s nowhere near enough, I do feel that change is happening and gaining momentum. From changes to the NICE guidelines to new education for general practitioners, the U.K. is currently a hub for menstrual health change and activity. I hope, and even believe, that other countries will be inspired and take heed.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.