Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

#periodtalk: Let’s keep talking about menstruation

November 14th, 2012 by Laura Wershler

Bloggers at re:Cycling often challenge and invite readers to open up and talk about our menstrual experiences.

In a September post, Heather Dillaway asked : “Why don’t we talk about the important variations in our menstrual cycles?” In another, she wrote about the “second talk” Poise ads that encourage women to share their perimenopause experiences.

Chris Bobel wrote in defense of hating her period, sparking a lively discussion and much support for both her honesty and her call for “a more (not less) pluralistic menstrual discourse.”

Alexandra Jacoby has been writing a series of posts exploring things about our bodies we tend not to talk about.  From Tell me again why we can’t talk about body stuff to her last post asking readers for suggestions on How to menstruate while camping , she is opening the door ever wider to menstrual cycle conversations.

We do our bit at re: Cycling to get people thinking and talking about menstruation from a broad range of perspectives, including the personal.  And, happily, we are not alone in bringing “period talk” out in the open.

Last Friday, I participated in a #periodtalk Tweet Chat, a monthly event hosted by Be Prepared Period, a website dedicated to providing accurate, helpful information about menstruation to girls, women and parents. One of Friday’s guests was Suzan Hutchinson (@periodwise), the Director of Connectivity for You Are Loved, a non-profit organization “focused on raising awareness about tampon related Toxic Shock Syndrome and providing factual information about menstruation.” You Are Loved has been an ongoing #periodtalk participant. Suzan, a self-described “menstrual cycle activist since youth,” herself experienced TSS.

Suzan’s topic was menstrual understanding; her introductory Tweets shared some of her story:

I began my menstrual journey at age 15 with a belted pad & knowledge that a week each month my body would betray me.

No one talked about periods. I thought my experience was unique – that I was odd. Embarrassment kept me silent.

Suzan eventually came to view her period as just one part of her menstrual cycle, and she brought this cycle perspective to the Tweet Chat. In a post-chat phone conversation, Suzan told me that she has seen how #periodtalk has helped others lose their embarrassment in talking about periods. “I’ve watched women who started out not being able to contribute become menstrual activists, bringing other women to the chats.”

She also told me about the day #periodtalk trended worldwide on Twitter. It was September 14, 2012 and the topic was Back to School: Periods101. A blog post at Lunapads.com describes what happened:

 Today #PeriodTalk had it’s big moment when it reached trending topic status worldwide. A pretty big accomplishment for a bunch of folks chatting about a topic which is usually so “hush-hush”. Of course the taboo-nature of the topic brought the trolls out of the woodwork and some pretty nasty things were said by a few crass individuals. Participants in #PeriodTalk were admonished for talking openly about something, which was in their opinion, not appropriate for the internet….seriously? Not appropriate for the internet? Have these people *seen* the internet?

Too bad for the trolls. Talking openly about our menstrual cycles is here to stay. We’ll keep doing it at re:Cycling and #periodtalk is thriving at Be Prepared Period. They have also launched an online Period Talk  forum where girls and parents can ask questions and get answers about anything related to menstruation and puberty.

The next #periodtalk Tweet Chat – on the topic of Non-Profits and Menstruation – is on Friday, December 14, 2012. Check it out.

Readers should note that statements published in re: Cycling are those of individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Society as a whole.