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The history behind talking about menstruation, especially as it relates to sports and physical activity, is full of stigmas and false euphemisms. Fifty years ago, no one mentioned the words athlete and period in the same sentence, and today it’s unchanged. But why is there silence when it comes to a natural process that affects women?
Sideline Period Stigmas
Many women live a double life in regards to something as natural as menstruation. Even though it recurs every month, menstruation is met with total silence and stigmas in most areas, such as sports and fitness.
Essity’s feminine care brand Bodyform is helping to change this with its Red.fit initiative, which is a content hub intended to raise awareness and provide information about menstruation and help keep women fit through their body’s monthly cycle. Working with experts in sports science, motivational psychology and nutrition, Red.fit brings together easy-to-use, expert guidance and content for each stage of menstruation, such as inspirational videos, nutritional information and podcasts.
Bodyform also launched the “Blood” film in 2016 with the purpose of shifting women’s perceptions of their periods from a weakness to strength and to challenge the taboos that surround menstruation in the world of sports.
Periods have been considered a private matter, but increased openness and more knowledge about how female hormones affect the body can help minimize the risk of injuries during physical activity and training, while also maximizing. Most top athletes are fully aware of their menstrual cycle and the impact it might have on their bodies. But while discussions about pain relief and bleeding control may be natural for everyone at the top level of sports and fitness, it’s different at other levels.
According to Essity’s 2016-17 Hygiene Matters Report and Survey, twenty-one percent of women do not know the best form of exercise during menstruation, forty-nine percent of women say they failed or missed school physical education classes because of menstruation, and forty-two percent who exercise regularly avoid exercise one day or more during menstruation.
Monthly bleeding should not interfere with fitness. The menstrual cycle is not a curse on women and can contrarily have a positive impact on training and make them feel better. And if they don’t feel well and have extreme feelings of exhaustion or discomfort, they should be able to speak with a doctor, coach, or trainer, as discussing menstruation is no more stigmatizing than telling someone about a sore ankle.
Women and girls should feel empowered to continue physical activity during their cycle – from exercising to practicing their favorite sport. So with that in mind, GAME ON.