Periods and vaginas. Two words that make most of us squirm. Yet, when you think about it, there are nearly 12 million females living in Australia alone, that either will be getting, are having or have had their own experience with their period. Despite it being one of the most natural bodily functions for women across the globe, it still seems to be frustratingly taboo. Why is this though? Why do we as women, feel ashamed by something that we cannot change?
Just over a week ago, I attended an all womens breakfast, hosted by Carefree Australia and the ever amazing Dr Ginni Mansberg. I was lucky enough to meet Dr Mansberg at another health event, where we discussed the taboo of ‘sex’. You can read about it here. Dr Mansberg is an incredible figure, who you would most notably recognise as the female doctor for the Embarrassing Bodies Down Under series. She is a practicing GP and in particular, womens health. It was wonderful to hear her speak again and shed some light on the many misconceptions that women have around their period.
At the breakfast, we were encouraged to discuss openly any issues or questions we had about periods, menstrual health, vaginas or even tampon use. It was so refreshing to be able to speak so freely about a topic that I find even sharing with friends, can be an uncomfortable experience. What shocked me was that women described their friends as ‘vulgar’, ‘crude’, ’embarrassing’ and even ‘weird’ that spoke with them about their period (based on Carefree’s research). These words have such a negative connotation, despite the fact that we, as women, share the exact same experience, every single month.
Another area that was shocking, was the many misconceptions around tampon use. 26% of women still believe that a tampon can get lost inside you and 47% women believe that you can only wear a tampon for four hours – wrong, they can be worn unto 8! And finally, 75% of women choose not to wear a tampon at night for fear of Toxic Shock Sydnrome. Dr Mansberg explains, “It is a condition, but extremely rare. Despite an enormous amount of research, there have been no studies which have shown that wearing tampons for up to eight hours – day or night – raises the risk of TSS”.
In response to this, Carefree have done two things, they launched their night time claim with their existing ‘Flexia Tampon’ and recently launched their ‘Be Real’ campaign. I never thought I would be sharing my thoughts on tampons on the blog, but hey ho, there is always a first! The ‘Flexia’ has been designed to be able to be worn at night, and as we learnt that many women didn’t know that they even could! What is fantastic about the ‘Flexia’, is the winged design. Carefree had added innovative SoftFold® wings technology to their tampon design meaning they draw fluid into the core, catching fluid that other tampons miss, so there’s less likelihood of a leakage. So you can have a restful nights sleep with out a worry.
As a mentioned before, Carefree also launched their ‘Be Real’ campaign, shedding a light on the issue of periods, putting it out there in the open and encouraging women to speak freely about their experiences. As I’ve learnt, so many women have misconceptions and misunderstandings when it comes to their periods and especially tampon usage. I am sure you have seen their recent television commercial (which is certainly causing a stir). If you haven’t seen it, view it below:
What do you think? As a female viewer, can you relate, or do you think it’s pushing the boat too far? Perhaps you’re a male viewer, so what are your thoughts? The main aim by Carefree is to open up the conversation and ‘get real’ about periods, do you think this could ignite the conversation? Carefree are encouraging conversation beyond the television ad, especially on their Facebook page. But obviously many women are still very embarrassed, so for those women out there, who are a little more private, if you have any questions about your period, you can ask them here and they will be answered by a professional.
Do you think this sort of campaign is a game changer? Can we break down those barriers? Can we alter the statistics? Menstrual health is something that has been so badly marketed in the past, that we have created these misconceptions and misunderstandings. In some religious societies to this day, women who have their period are considered ‘unclean’ and are marked, so the whole of their social circle know. We need a ‘earthquake shaking’ shift surrounding the issue of periods – and not just amongst women. Men, boys, perhaps even children need to be educated. It’s about getting real about the situation. And I think that Carefree are doing a fantastic job about getting the topic out there in the open and starting the shift. But realistically, the education needs to go beyond women, to the whole of society, before we start to see really start to see a momentous change. Period (don’t mind the pun).