Breaking the taboo

Covering menstrual health, period poverty and pain, BCU’s research casts new light on hidden issues and inequality.

Our research into menstrual health aims to challenge misconceptions and misunderstandings, address the shortcomings in treatment and support that exist and highlight the health inequalities that arise as a result.

As such, our work is focussed on breaking taboos around menstrual health and shifting attitudes among healthcare professionals, policy makers and the public at large to bring about change and improve care. 

As a member of the UK Government’s Period Poverty Taskforce, we are working with those within the menstruation education, health, policy, and advocacy sectors to ensure that anyone, regardless of their background and place within society, has the knowledge, resources and support available to them to manage their menstrual health.

Our work in this area is concerned with improving menstrual health education, practice and product accessibility as well as addressing the financial challenges that contribute to period poverty.

This is particularly significant during the current pandemic where the shutting down of key facilities, less priority being given routine sexual and reproductive healthcare, and increases in financial hardship have exacerbated period poverty.

We’re currently investigating the continuing impact that Covid-19 is having on those experiencing period poverty, the work being done by charities, voluntary groups and other bodies to support them, and what government needs to do to address the problem.

We’re also working to increase understanding of period pain and when it might be a serious problem. Recent research we carried out revealed that only 8% of teenage girls in the UK knew about endometriosis, a chronic and painful menstrual health condition with debilitating quality of life implications.

But around 1.5 million women in the UK suffer from endometriosis so we are working to increase awareness and knowledge of this common but poorly understood condition.  This includes helping young women know what typical periods looks like, so they’ll be better able to identify signs of endometriosis and seek care earlier.

We’re also working to challenge the stigma around discussing menstruation, which prevents some women from talking about endometriosis symptoms, even with doctors. And we’re confronting gender biases in healthcare, which have too often seen women’s accounts of their experiences trivialised or dismissed, leading to delays in diagnoses and treatment.

We are working to shift perceptions, policy and practice around menstruation – removing the sense of shame and stigma that often exists by tackling some of the archaic attitudes towards this topic and women in general, working to increase funding and addressing wider issues around education, inclusion and accessibility.

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