The words “female reproductive health” are insufficiently discussed.
In light of Oct. 15 being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day and Oct. 19 being National Period Day, I thought it would be a good time to mention this topic.
Female reproductive health is only ever brought up when discussing controversial topics such as abortion, but for some reason, it is almost taboo to talk about being on your period.
I know in middle school, my friends and I had a code word for if we needed a pad or a tampon.
Even today, we ask for one in whispered tones.
The real question is, why should women feel ashamed to talk about what their bodies do naturally? Why don’t we talk about the many health issues that are possible, and even common, among women?
Laura Benanti, an actress, brought this up in an article she wrote about losing a child.
“If this is so common, then why do we only speak about it in whispers, if we speak about it at all?” Benanti said. “If this is so common, why does it feel like the Voldemort of women’s issues? The ‘M’ that must not be named. If one says the word ‘miscarriage’ out loud, does that feed its evil powers? Do we fear that communing over this type of loss only makes it grow stronger?”
Benanti also spoke about the stress of going through a miscarriage and continuing with your job. As an actress, she has to tell her employers much earlier about her pregnancy, but she was actually grateful for this stipulation because they knew why she wasn’t herself.
She said she couldn’t bear having to pretend everything was OK, like so many women do.
“What I am suggesting is that, if this is something that truly affects so many women and their partners (some statistics say one in three pregnancies, some say one in five), then perhaps we need to encourage a cultural environment more conducive to empathetic understanding,” Benanti said.
The real issue here is that women could receive the help they need and be more prepared to handle these types of health issues, if only they were discussed.
If we were open about female reproductive health and talked about our personal stories, then we might be able to help women who go through this in the future.
The conversation should be about how to cope, but also, in less extreme cases, just how to stay healthy and keep yourself informed.
In addition to this, one of the only issues most people know about are disorders like ovarian cancer.
Even then, most only know that it is important to get check-ups so that if you do end up getting cancer, it can be treated.
Unfortunately, there are many other issues that are common.
These include cervical, uterine, vaginal or vulvar cancer, endometriosis, uterine fibroids and interstitial cystitis.
I don’t list these to scare anyone, but it is important to be informed so as to know what could be going on with your body.
Things like National Period Day are working to end the tampon tax.
This is a separate but connected important issue, because even if women can talk about their reproductive health freely, they can’t take care of themselves if they can’t afford a tampon or pad.
Not only do we need to be open and informed about women’s reproductive health, but we need to be able to afford to keep ourselves healthy and safe.
To all my fellow women, let’s change the conversation.
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