Time For A Change: Female Menstruation
Mensuration is something that all women face from ages as early as eight up to about 51 years old. On average, a woman spends about 40 years of their life menstruating. Even though having a period is a natural occurrence in a woman’s life, society continues to look down upon this uncontrollable aspect of a woman's body.
Statistics & Evidence
42% of women have been through period shaming: 1 in 5 admitting that it had been done by a male friend, 12% admitting that it had been done by a family member, and 1 in 10 expressing that it had been done by a classmate.
62% of women feel uncomfortable using the word “period.”
Even though our modern society has progressed in the past 50 years, we still seem to be stuck on the idea that having a period is something to be ashamed of. This old and backwards way of thinking is still present in 2023 due to the lack of education within our society.
As a 17-year-old who has a period and attends high school, I still feel as though not everybody understands what I am going through, which seems silly to say, however, it is certainly truthful. One study shows that 72% of boys have never learned of the menstrual cycle, and 75% of children are not satisfied with their education on the matter. If 72% of my male classmates don’t know what I’m going through and don’t understand the struggles that come with having a period, then how do I expect them to understand why I need to go to the bathroom for a longer length of time, or need to secretly hide a tampon in my pocket? How are WE going to end the stigma that is so deeply ingrained within our society?
Relevant Stories From MTHS Students
When trying to get a grasp of how students would feel about our school implementing dispensers in the bathrooms, I was also able to gather a variety of stories and experiences that have taken place in the high school.
(11th grade student at MTHS)
“I was in class one day, taking a test, when I realized I got my period unexpectedly. I went to the bathroom with 10 minutes left in class and realized I needed a pad. There was no time to go to the nurse since the block was about to end. I had to go back to class and wait until the block ended to get a pad. If the bathroom had a dispenser available, the entire process would’ve been less stressful.”
(Student at MTHS)
“I got my first period late freshman year and I didn’t really know what to do because I didn’t have anything in my bag to help. I was too embarrassed to ask anyone around me. It happened towards the end of lunch, and it caused me to arrive back to class several minutes late.”
(11th grade student at MTHS)
“I thought my period ended once but then the next day in school when I went to the bathroom, it was actually still there and I didn't have a pad or tampon with me. With no one in the bathroom to ask for help, I was forced to create a makeshift pad out of the toilet paper in the stall. Since the toilet paper is so thin, I felt uncomfortable and unhygienic for the rest of the day.”
At MTHS, we are very fortunate to have a well-developed school that provides us with a proper education. Even though MTHS does not supply pads and tampons in their bathrooms, they are supplied at the nurse's office. However, if a student on the third floor has their period unexpectedly, they would have to go down three flights of stairs in order to grab a pad or tampon, and then go back up three flights of stairs again. This can waste about 10 to 20 minutes of their valuable time in class. Having dispensers in the female restrooms could cut that 10 to 20 minutes down to less than 5 minutes.
Conducting A Survey
In order to tell how students feel about the situation, I conducted a survey that received 128 responses. When asked how long a student has taken when getting a pad or tampon from the nurse, the longest response was 45 minutes. These 45 minutes are half a class period wasted. One student even said that they had no idea that there were pads and tampons in the nurse's office.
When students were asked if they felt uncomfortable when walking with their pad or tampon to the bathroom, 82% (105 students) said that they do.
When asked if they felt dispensers would be beneficial to them, 97.7% (125 students) said yes.
Going back to the question of how WE are going to end the stigma that is deeply ingrained within our society, a probable and feasible solution that can ease the problem at hand, not entirely solve it, would simply be to implement dispensers in our female restrooms.
Allowing dispensers to be placed in the women’s restrooms would encourage an easy and accessible environment for students while simultaneously encouraging menstruation to become normalized and accepted. Rather than having menstrual products kept hidden in the nurse's office, dispensers could allow students to realize that having their period is normal, and that other girls are in the same position as them. The stigma thus reduces, and students are shown that having a period is normal and healthy.