If you are a mother of a teenage girl, the words sex and your daughters name don’t go well in the same sentence.
But what if I were to tell you that attitudes towards sex and sexual behaviour in the future can be influenced by attitudes towards your menstrual cycle now? As a woman who made some questionable decisions throughout my life, I certainly want my daughter to have a better foundation for her decisions during this very important part of life.
A study published in 2010 in the Journal of Sex Research found that there was a direct link between the shame women feel surrounding their periods and genitalia in general and the ability to speak up for what they want in the bedroom. Women surveyed for the study who reported feeling shame about their periods also reported that they were less likely to tell their sex partners what they wanted.
They were even less likely to speak up about the use of condoms or birth control, leading them to engage in risky sexual behaviour. This was compared to women who were more comfortable with their periods. Those women reported having more satisfying sex and being unafraid to tell partners what they enjoy in the bedroom. The study also found a link between being ashamed or embarrassed of periods and general body shame.
Rachel grew up in a home where she didn’t ever talk about periods. “It wasn’t the sort of thing I would talk to mum about, the only thing I ‘knew’ about my menstrual cycle was “it wasn’t a good thing.”” Over the years Rachel’s shame for her cycle expanded to her body image, leaving her with generally low self-esteem. “For most of my late teen and early adulthood I found I was embarrassed about my body and when with a partner, I didn’t feel confident to say what I really wanted. Putting myself in situations I would have rather not been in. If I thought having more confidence around my cycle would help me as a younger person I would have really liked to know this”.
What do you want for your daughter? It’s a no-brainer for me.
So, what can you do as a mum?
Tip 1. Let’s talk about it! When a conversation comes around with whether it be with our daughters, our friends, even in mixed company. Discuss our periods, don’t cringe, don’t flinch, just talk about it and make it normal. Don’t be afraid of making the guys in your social circle uncomfortable, make it ok to be talked about no matter the situation.
Tip 2. Teach our daughters that their bodies’ normal functions are nothing to be ashamed of and save them the stress and discomfort that has followed women for so many generations over what is, in reality, a relatively simple thing.
Tip 3. Don’t let menstrual shame live in your home. There is no need to feel negative about yourself or your body, make a safe space at home for your daughter to speak about her menstrual cycle.
Learn more about your cycle and how it can benefit your everyday life, read more at Emgoddess.com.au
Photo by Charles Deluvio 🇵🇭🇨🇦 on Unsplash