Menstruators are tough. Yet, not a lot of non-menstruators know about this.
Periods can be painful. Excruciating, at times. They can be debilitating, and stop you from performing not only physically demanding tasks, but even the most basic every-day activities.
Yet, no one talks about it. If you are on your period, you’re simply expected to deal with it and carry on with your day.
Hearing someone like internationally acclaimed professional golfer Lydia Ko disclose that her performance was affected by back pain due to her period is both unexpected and overdue.
So far, all we’ve ever gotten is shocking headlines of “12 celebrities who got real about their periods” – like being famous somehow spared you from bleeding every month. But there’s more to this conversation than knowing that Miley Cyrus got her first period wearing white pants on the set of Hannah Montana.
Period cramps are no joke. And maybe we do need celebrities to talk about that too, if they are the ones who get to be heard first. Maybe this could be the beginning of a new era, where period pain is accepted and normalised instead of shushed away.
If you are an elite athlete, performing under the spotlight, with the entire world judging you, it just makes sense that you are honest about what is affecting your ability to do your job.
But you don’t need to be Lydia Ko to justify not being able to perform at your best. You can work in an office, sitting down all day, and still struggle to get through your day. You can be a teenager in school, you can be anyone – and you shouldn’t feel like you need to be quiet about it.
No one would think twice about calling in sick at work with the flu or a stomach bug. But when it comes to period pain, we are taught that it’s just your period, and you just have to suck it up.
This needs to end. We need more people and menstruators talking about how cramps, pain and aches will prevent you from functioning sometimes; how the need to wrap yourself in a blanket hugging a hot water bottle is stronger than the will to jump in a pool or kick a football, and will affect your ability to write a report or deliver a presentation at work.
Sucking it up shouldn’t be honourable. It’s ok to acknowledge that your body is going through a lot, and you might not be feeling like you can perform at your best.
Periods are the most natural thing in the world, and about half the world population experience them. Yet, there is still so much shame and secrecy around them. They come with a whole lot of side effects, which are also never covered in the news, and make us feel like we are weak for needing painkillers, and like we have to suffer through discomfort in silence.
We need to normalise period pain. We need more Lydia Kos being open and honest about what it really means to function during “that time of the month”. We should no longer have to suck it up.
We are keen to know more about what you think! Here is a quick survey about menstrual leave. We would love to hear from you!
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Disclaimer: Opinions expressed within the content are solely the author's and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Dignity NZ Ltd.