50) For the girls.

Gentlemen, you’re going to find very little here to interest you, but you may learn something if you proceed.

“Period poverty is the lack of access to sanitary products due to financial constraints.”

Firstly the fact that period poverty exists.

Some stats..in 2021, the UK was the 5th largest economy in the world. A survey conducted by Plan International UK reports that one in ten girls have been unable to afford sanitary products. One in seven have had to ask to borrow sanitary wear from a friend due to affordability issues. One in ten have had to improvise sanitary wear. Having to borrow, yes, done that, but then there is the “improvise”. Dear god. I rarely bang the female drum, but..if blokes had periods there would be none of this. It is estimated that currently over 137,000 children across the UK have missed a day of school due to period poverty. Another survey tells us that 10% of girls aged 14-21 were unable to afford sanitary protection, and a further 15% reporting financial difficulty with the costs.

I know some councils are supporting the drive for free protection. but it seems my own of North Tyneside, currently does not. A recent freedom of information request for NT Council stated..

Question 6. Have you already invested or do you have plans to invest in any period poverty/free sanitary product measures? If so, please detail and include whether this has been completed or is planned for the future.

The answer..No

Even a search for the word “tampon” on their website shows no results.

However, in Durham and now country-wide we have the excellent Red Box service, and since January of last year the government are providing limited help through the Period product scheme for schools and colleges in England. Still, this only provides that “Period products, such as pads and tampons, should be available for all who need them, when they need them, in order to access education.” Why not all of life?

I know Tesco do their White Envelope scheme, whereby you can just go to the service desk, ask for a white envelope and one will be provide containing a sanitary product. Then there is “Sandy” at some Morrison’s stores.

But we need a grown-up discussion about this. What do we get? Politicians that are about to take away the £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit, while they claim a tv for their office at £289 on expenses.

When this began to happen to me I was in the middle of a maths class. There was no fuss, this was happening to all of us that week it seemed! I was taken out, and returned to the class with no fanfare. Our teachers, all but one nuns, had a veritable sanitary protection mountain. There were stocks in the infirmary that took up three cupboards. I can’t recall but Abby tells me we did have two lessons on periods, and it was never seen as something embarrassing. I can’t speak for girls today but hope it’s the same for them.

At the pool I try to have a mini mountain. We have one locker filled with every type, including natural and organic, and if anybody needs some then I can pop in and deliver it in a small brown paper bag. At every pool I’ve guarded at, I’ve tried to implement the practice of keeping a few items handy. The obvious thing is swimming when it’s your TOTM, but you can if wearing a tampon. It’s not actually much of a problem when you’re in the water. Water pressure is immense, a cubic metre of water weighs a tonne, and some of this pressure inhibits the flow. Leaving the water, that pressure is no longer there so it’s at that time you’ve to be careful, but in most cases you’ll be fine. There’ll be no sharks chasing you in my pool, or anywhere. A chat with my friendly local dive team told me that there hasn’t been recorded case of a shark attack on women while they were menstruating. The women, not the shark. Don’t think I’d like to come across a shark with PMT, PMS or whatever we are generally encouraged to call it this week. If we’ve ever a school class in for swimming lessons I ask the question, and leave it up to them if they want to or not. We’re not trained as health educators, but since last year it is compulsory in UK schools to teach about menstruation, even to boys. That must be a fun class to take.

Only twice have I seen blood in the pool from the effects of our “curse”, but there isn’t much you can do about it, apart from remove that person as quietly as you can, and dose up the water to it’s maximum chlorine levels. The blood to water ratio is so small in the first case that nobody is going to become ill, why would they anyway, and even then the chlorine is there for a reason.

TOTM affects women in different ways. Cramps, which I used to have when younger, sleepiness, mood swings, heightened sexual yearning, lowered sexual yearning, (me), the need to wee more, the need to wee less, irritability, and for some the inability so say hi in the street. (Becky Marshall….) Also the length of the period is different for everyone. A friend has hers last a week, while mine is about two days, but it’s all over the place as far as when it happens. They can be as little as two weeks but up to six weeks apart. My gyne says it’s perfectly fine, and as I’m not going to have children, not a worry.

I was at the doctor with Abby yesterday. We were out for a tea and cake, she had to pick up something. As I was waiting I saw the sign below, which Abby snapped for me. I know its a good thing to have a smear test, so was dutifully reading.. Fully trained staff.. Oh goody! I wouldn’t want just anybody poking about. Request a female.. yes please..

As previously mentioned, I use private healthcare. Followers of this blog will know why I choose to, but it most certainly is not a snobby thing. I’ve a had a couple of health issues in my adult life, but nothing even approaching major. One thing that I would like to know is the chances of such things as cervical cancer. Having tried and failed many times to have access to my parents’s medical records, and having no family otherwise, I’m behind the curve compared to others when anticipating what may happen to my body in the future. Ellie’s dad has heart problems for example, and her British grandparents also have medical history along the same lines.

It’s because of my lack of ancestral health knowledge that I have a health check up every six months. I’m not one for thinking that every sniffle is flu, every twinge is cancer, every headache is a tumour. That way lies insomnia and Doctor Google. Neither am I an advocate of “body-positive” or “body-guilt”. Yes it can be a good thing if you are insecure about your body but to me it can also be a bad thing, leading to feeling more insecure, then depression, medication etc. Youtube “influencers’ are to blame for a lot of the young women we see that have anorexia, thinking their body isn’t slim enough.

Being healthy is more apt to give you a better outlook. I know not everyone has access to a gym and pool, but walking up and down your road has to be better than sitting in front of your tv? I hear about so many women that complain they don’t look right, or feel down.. The very same women rarely leave their sofa, and when they do it’s for a trip to the sweetie stash. You have to at least make the effort. Slimming magazines are all well and good, but just reading them while eating a packet of crisps doesn’t do a thing for you.

A word on Doctor Google too. Many of the aforementioned women spend an inordinate amount of time asking the search engine what they think is wrong with them. If they don’t find the correct answer they require then they’ll search until they do, much in the same way as the SNP do with Scotland. I like Nicola Sturgeon and feel more akin to her than Boris Johnson, but you had your referendum. Facebook isn’t for me, but I know friends that will send me screenshots of “diagnoses” that self appointed experts have given women. I trust the NHS website and a few others. When medical advice telling us that injecting disinfectant into your body will kill the coronavirus is out there, and is further given credence by orange-faced clowns, why would you trust anything but an official body? Bit of politics..

So every six months I go to the doc to have a full medical, bloods, weight, eyes, hearing, urine…. (“Can you fill that for me?” “What.. from here?” Porridge, 1974). I’m never nervous that they might find something, as that’s why I visit, but often think about just how I would take if it something was found.

“Anna, sit down.. I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news. You’ve the highest level of cholesterol we’ve ever seen. I wonder, when you die, may be have your body?”

“Well.. I suppose if I can be of some help afterwards…for medical research?”

“No I want to hang you up in the garden so the blue tits can peck at you”.

As ever, thanks for reading



1st July, 2021


3 thoughts on “50) For the girls.”

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