Proud to be a Hormonal Woman

This blog post is dedicated to my mother and my daughters.

When I came home from school crying at the age of 13 telling my mum that I had started my period, I was embarrassed and mildly traumatised, as are most teenage girls, by this new experience. But my mum gave me a hug and said “Mazal Tov [congratulations], You have become a woman!” At that time all I really wanted was to remain a “girl”.

But with hindsight I realised what a unique and special response that was. My mum had made sure that I understood this was a milestone to be celebrated.

I have tried to respond to my daughters in the same way, as each of them in turn have started their periods. I try very hard (not always succeeding!) to be open with them about their menstrual cycles, making sure they feel comfortable and at peace with this new stage of their lives and the changes it brings.

This is especially important to me as I see how modern society and media relate to periods. We have all seen the sanitary towel/tampon adverts where girls and women are told that they should carry with all their regular activities (swimming, horse riding, wearing tight white jeans, stay out partying) despite their periods. Or the subliminal messages that girls and women get from magazines, places of work, medical professionals etc that they should “carry on like normal” regardless of their period. This has allowed girls and women not to feel limited or restricted in any way.

The feminist movement has been a gift for women.  One hundred years after the Suffragette movement succeeded in granting women voting rights in the UK, we should celebrate every movement towards equal rights and equal opportunities for women. 

However I feel this movement has come at a price. For many women, achieving equal rights has often meant having to deny the very thing that makes us women – our periods, or more generally our natural hormonal cycle.