The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) is starting work on support for GPs and healthcare professionals, including pharmacists, to talk to patients about menstrual conditions and help make them more aware of their menstrual wellbeing.
The RCGP says the work will form part of its spotlight project on women’s health and it will work in collaboration with Endometriosis UK, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare to develop resources to help healthcare professionals recognise the symptoms of menstrual dysfunction.
The announcement comes after a survey from the charity Plan International UK revealed that 79% of girls and young women had been concerned about symptoms related to their period but had not seen a healthcare professional.
The survey found that 29% of those aged 14–21 years had experienced heavy bleeding, 38% had had severe period pain and 19% said they had felt depressed at times. However, 27% said that the reason they had not seen a doctor or healthcare professional was because they felt too embarrassed.
“It’s worrying that girls and young women are experiencing symptoms linked to their periods that they’re concerned about, but aren’t seeking a medical opinion,” said Tanya Barron, chief executive of Plan International UK.
“The stigma and taboo around periods is creating a wall of silence, with girls struggling to understand their own bodies and feeling too ashamed to speak out when they think there’s a problem.
“Better education for both boys and girls is needed to bust taboos and make sure girls know when the symptoms they have are healthy and normal or when they need to seek medical advice,” she added.
Plan International UK has recently launched a “first-of-its-kind” report examining the stigma and taboo menstruating girls face in the UK, along with what education they receive and problems they have affording sanitary products.