Periods. Does that word make you uncomfortable? The topic of women’s health is often ignored because of this — it makes people feel uneasy.
Because I attended an all-girls high school, the taboo feeling of the topic was absent from my life. Because of this, I’ve found it fascinating to observe how unnerved people become when the slightest information about women’s health is inserted into a conversation.
I find this disappointing because women’s health cannot be ignored. A study from 2018 found that women’s pain is often devalued in medicine, leading them to be diagnosed with either no issue or a psychological one. As a result, the medication or therapeutic help they receive is frequently insufficient.
For me, this is not just a statistic. I have had trouble being diagnosed with a reproductive health issue, as have other members of my family. But what can we as a college community do to help this issue?
To begin, we can look to relevant examples of current events for inspiration. Last year, California passed a law that states all public schools — including universities — are required to provide free menstrual products in all restrooms.
Before any readers dismiss this as just another wild California policy, know they are not the only ones. In fact, there are 20 places around the world that have attempted to provide free period products including Scotland, New Zealand and several other states.
Why are so many places concerned with this? It is a result of the growing issue of period poverty. Many women struggle to get sufficient access to menstrual products, especially due to high prices.
A 2021 study that was the first of its kind to study the link between period poverty and depression found women, particularly those in college, who experienced period poverty were at a high risk for depression.
As all women know, every woman’s period is different. It can be hard to always remember and keep up with them, and many experience them erratically. Free products in restrooms provide an extra peace of mind and basic decency for an issue that is often neglected.
Additionally, periods can no longer afford to be a taboo topic. The health and well-being of women depends on our ability to have normal conversations about our particular challenges and the issues surrounding reproductive health.
The threat to women’s health because of inadequate care and period poverty will only grow if we do not face it. As a school for independent thinkers, seekers of truth, and a place of Christian compassion, we are called to live up to our mottos.
We all can contribute something small in our own way. Whether it means donating to a charity that supports period poverty, having a meaningful conversation to learn more about the struggles of women’s health, or attempting to get free menstrual products in the UD bathrooms, we all have a part to play.
Yes, periods can be awkward, but it is always difficult to do anything worth doing. It’s time for UD to do what we can to help women’s health.