Don’t leave Scotland behind - teach menstrual wellbeing in schools

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It’s time for the Scottish Government to wake up and stop brushing conversations about menstrual health at school under the carpet. It’s time we taught menstrual wellbeing at school.

My name’s Shaunee, I’m 23, and I have endometriosis. From a young age, I normalised the chronic pain I was enduring because I wasn’t taught any different. I was led to believe that painful periods were just a normal part of growing up and being a woman.

It wasn’t until years later when I trained as a midwife that I sought medical help.

Like many, I suffered in silence for the majority of my school life: I spent days in bed because of chronic pelvic pain, I missed out on school days and my education suffered as a result. I once fainted in the shower because this pain became too much, but I didn’t visit the GP because I had no idea what I was suffering from wasn’t normal.

Neither did my family, friends and the world around me – because none of us were taught any different. This left me suffering in isolating and painful silence for years. I’ll never forget the embarrassment and shame of making constant trips to the bathroom because of my endometriosis symptoms, and the confusion felt by both me and my peers at what I was going through.

That is why I’m campaigning for menstrual wellbeing to be taught in all schools across Scotland so that students can spot and understand symptoms of conditions like endometriosis, PCOS, PMDD and Heavy Menstrual Bleeding earlier, and not delay seeking help.

I want everyone, regardless of gender, to understand what is and isn’t normal when it comes to the menstrual cycle. Menstrual health conditions impact not just the sufferer, but those around them too.

Already, I’m proud to be part of a nation which takes menstrual health seriously. The Government has committed £5m to helping women and girls access free menstrual products after campaigners revealed just how many struggled to pay for them every month. Now is the time to also help all those who struggle with menstrual health conditions. 

The exclusion of menstrual wellbeing in the school curriculum is only amplifying unnecessary embarrassment in talking about menstruation and female health issues. It cannot be the case that young girls like me have to miss school because we are embarrassed and do not understand what is happening to our body.

Please join me in calling on the Government to introduce compulsory menstrual wellbeing education into the primary and secondary school curriculum.