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18 July 2022

Know Your Period

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Sims IVF

It's Fertility Awareness Week and this year we are focusing in on periods. The ‘Know Your Period’ campaign aims to educate women of all ages about their menstrual cycle.

We ran a short survey to tackle how periods can be viewed as ‘taboo’, dismissed and seen as something to be hidden in public. Sims IVF is also hoping to highlight how periods impact women’s lives but are often not acknowledged properly.

The results highlighted that only 5% of people believe they had adequate education in school on period-related topics. 91% of people admitted that they would always hide their period products when going to the bathroom during their schooldays and this behaviour has continued into adulthood as 76% of people still make a conscious effort to hide their period products at work and in their shopping trolleys.

Amy Murphy, Nurse Manager at the Sims IVF clinic in Swords said: “Periods and menstrual cycles are often topics that people tend to shy away from, either because they are embarrassed or have always felt that it is a ‘woman’s’ problem that should be dealt with privately. This can cause a number of issues for women of all ages, including not knowing vital information about their cycle and the factors that can affect it.

Over the next two weeks, we want to bring the menstruation conversation to the fore, to educate, inform and break to the taboo through the ‘Know Your Period’ campaign. We want women to feel empowered to learn more about their bodies, talk about their periods among friends and family, and not feel that they need to hide period products in the supermarket, work or in school.”

To shine a light on periods, the team at Sims IVF have answered some common questions:

  1. What factors can influence my cycle?

There are many things that can impact on the menstrual cycle, ranging from lifestyle factors, to medication, and health conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis. In many cases, once off changes to your cycle can be harmless, but it is important to get to know the length of your cycle and to visit a GP if you have any concerns.

2. Does the contraceptive pill have an impact on periods

If you are taking an oral contraceptive, the ‘bleed’ experienced during a break between pill packets is in fact a ‘withdrawal bleed’, not a period. An oral contraceptive, i.e. ‘the pill’, blocks ovulation so there is no uterine lining to shed. The bleed experienced is a result of withdrawal from progesterone, present in combined oral contraception or progesterone only contraceptives.

3. A bleed outside of your period – is this normal?

Vaginal bleeding or ‘spotting’ between periods may occur, particularly during the first few months of starting on hormonal contraception. If spotting lasts longer than a few months, or if you have any concerns, you seek medical advice to get it checked out.

4. How do my hormones change during the different stages of my cycle?

There are four stages to the menstrual cycle: menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation and the luteal phase. While hormones and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are often used as a way to dismiss behaviour or passed off as ‘PMS-ing’, hormones can have big impacts on your mood. During the luteal phase, progesterone and estrogen levels rise, and you may begin to feel moodier.

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