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Going With the Flow: A Guide to Destigmatising Your Period

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Leeds chapter.

Periods aren’t usually the main topic of conversation. We usually learn about periods in high school by an unenthusiastic nurse, or a teacher who had some spare time. This article aims to shed some light on how we can go with the flow (literally). As I am not a healthcare professional, there will be resources available for further detail. 

Due to a lack of information and restrictive cultural norms, periods have been stigmatised as ‘dirty’. In more recent years, people have weaponised periods to suppress women from expressing themselves. Women have often heard the “Oh, are you due on?” as a defence mechanism. This pushes the narrative that women are irrational which feeds into patriarchal stereotypes. But enough is enough. Periods are a natural occurrence which should be destigmatised. Those who have a period should not feel like they cannot freely talk about them. UNICEF have worked hard to address the stigma around periods. In their 2021 report, they note how many menstruating children are reluctant to go to school due to a lack of sanitary products and stigma. Unfortunately, there is still an issue of period poverty, but due to stigma, it is not recognised as a humanitarian issue. Therefore, change can only be achieved through open discussions on menstrual bleeding and the whole cycle itself.

We must first briefly establish the different phases of the menstrual cycle. This is because there are ways you can work with your cycle to ultimately reduce period symptoms and optimise your general health. 

Follicular Phase: This is during the growth of the ovarian follicles. The hormone FSH is dominant which prepares the egg for ovulation. 

Ovulatory Phase: This is when the egg is released. At this stage, there is a dramatic increase in the hormone LH. 

Luteal Phase: This will last until the start of the period. Progesterone is the leading hormone at this stage. PMS will also start to occur.

Menstrual Phase: The period starts (I call this the ‘crimson wave’). Progesterone and oestrogen drops at this stage.

More information can be found here: https://helloclue.com/articles/cycle-a-z/the-menstrual-cycle-more-than-just-the-period

Throughout education, I found that my menstrual cycle had a huge impact on my performance. As someone who suffers with PCOS, I had irregular periods and severe period symptoms such as extreme pain, insomnia, hair loss; the list goes on. Fatigue would have the biggest effect on my ability to work. This was when I decided to take a different approach in my lifestyle. The normal 9 to 5 day is ultimately based on the cis male hormonal cycle. Their cycle lasts 24 hours, where they have the most energy in the morning due to testosterone, which slowly diminishes throughout the day. Trying to adapt to this cycle is inefficient because a woman’s hormone cycle is over 30 days (this can differ from person to person). Upon further research, I found that each phase of the cycle must be treated differently in terms of nutrition, exercise, and well-being. Health Line has provided an insightful but simple breakdown of what the best way to approach each phase of your menstrual cycle is. I was surprised to find that the follicular phase is the best time for planning and productivity. I now implement this in my day-to-day life, and I have found that I get the most work done in this phase. I also take more time to honour the need for rest during my menstrual phase. I deeply encourage readers to sync your working life to your cycle. 

Further information on how to approach each phase can be found here: https://www.healthline.com/health/make-your-period-work-for-you#Helpful-apps 

An issue raised is that many people suffer from irregular periods, and therefore may not be able to find what phase they are in. In this case, it would be beneficial to journal symptoms of each day and find which phase you correlate with the most. Furthermore, tracking your period via an app such as Clue or Flo is beneficial in tracking your symptoms and cycle length.

Fighting against period poverty begins with openly speaking about menstruation without fear of being shamed. It involves the recognition that periods are completely natural. Furthermore, implementing your work in correlation with your cycle can normalise periods. You can also optimise each phase efficiently to make work life easier. These changes can prove to be beneficial to your well-being and mental health. It is time to work with your cycle, not against it.

Here is a link to donating towards making period stigmas an issue of history:


Written by: Shareena Emambocus

Edited by: Uta Tsukada-Bright

I study Law at University of Leeds. I love art, food and nights out lol. Constantly tired and I laugh at my own jokes 🤡