Half of British women are embarrassed to talk about their periods

London, May 27: More than half of British women are embarrassed to talk about their periods, according to new research.

A study on 1,000 British women, published by ActionAid to mark Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28, revealed that 54 per cent of girls and women aged between 16 and 24 shy away from discussing their period.

This has a significant impact on women’s lives in the UK, as researchers found that three-and-a-half million girls and women have missed school or work because of their period. Just a quarter said they’d be honest about the reason for their absence – with the rest pinning the blame elsewhere.

Jessica Holland, at ActionAid said: “A woman’s period can affect her in very different ways, and no two women are the sane. Yet our research shows that despite needing to sometimes take time off from work and school, the majority of women would not feel comfortable about being honest about this.”

New research from charity WaterAid backs this up. In a survey of 1,041 British women, two-thirds of admitted to adapting their lifestyle to avoid ‘period-related dilemmas’ such as leaking, or having to hide sanitary products on the way to the loo – something 42 per cent of workers expressed pressure to do.

Not only are periods still viewed as a taboo, according to WaterAid, over half of women lack confidence if caught out in a situation such as not being able to get to a toilet during their period.

While four out of five women said that they would never ask a stranger for a sanitary product, and 37 per cent wouldn’t even ask a friend or colleague.

WaterAid also emphasised that, for millions of girls and women living in poverty, having their period can mean missing out on an education and earning money because a lack of adequate toilets, water and sanitary products.

Barbara Frost, WaterAid’s Chief Executive, said: “Since the dawn of time, women have had periods – yet most of us consider it an embarrassing and taboo subject. In many cultures, menstruating women have to navigate archaic social taboos around periods that can see them unable to eat with their family, having to sleep outside the family home and shut out of religious ceremonies.

“By giving it the attention it deserves, we will help to ensure every woman and girl has access to water, safe toilets and somewhere to wash by 2030.”

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