What is menstrual loneliness?
Updated: Feb 2, 2022
I often speak of the lifetime burden of something I call 'menstrual loneliness' and 'menstrual isolation' and how my Menstrual Cycle Support online courses on social prescription can address society-wide menstrual dysfunction and alleviate the suffering and symptoms of loneliness and isolation.
Due to cultural shame and taboo, many menstruators are too embarrassed to talk about their menstrual cycle: to their family, friends, colleagues, employers and healthcare professional.
In addition, many menstruators feel let down by the healthcare system when they leave an appointment feeling unheard and unacknowledged; are stuck on long waiting lists whilst experiencing month after month of cycle misery; feel as though they have to constantly explain and self-advocate for menstrual issues; feel trapped in a cycle of trial and error of medications without an understanding of side effects; struggle when having to go to work or school whilst suffering.
All of this (and more) causes, I believe, a burden of menstrual loneliness and isolation, which compromises not only the individual but the whole of society.
Despite the healthcare system not able to always help menstrual suffering, menstruators turn to a healthcare provider everyday for advice, guidance and treatment. We do still implicitly trust our doctors, nurses and the NHS and most of us still have faith in the healthcare system.
This is why 'social prescribing' is thought to be one of the solutions to alleviating the so-called 'social diseases' of loneliness and isolation. This is why I set up Menstrual Cycle Support on social prescription.
My own menstrual loneliness began the moment I started my period - although I was able to share the news with my mum, the moment I stepped out of my front door, I realised I was expected to go about my day completely as normal, not able to share or celebrate with others my experience. I suffered period pain in silence (and alone) for days I had to go to school. I remember sitting an A-Level exam with Mensrtual cramps and a headache yet - feeling alone - continued on 'as normal'. Years later, the contraceptive pill I took, I believe, made me feel very depressed and yet I had no idea if it was me or the pill so continued to take it, with the doctor claiming that many girls think it's the pill but it's usually just their own emotions - I remember the stirrings of a deep sense of isolation. Soon I would experience the depths of despair in the week before my period but my experience seemed unacknowledged by culture, healthcare and my friends who wrote me off as 'moody'. Later I would experience the humiliation and shame of having a scan for debilitating period pain only to be told I was 'normal':
No one to talk to, unacknowledged, gaslighted, alone, isolated.
I do not believe that anyone should suffer the burden of menstrual loneliness and it's my life work to help create a world free from menstrual suffering.
My Menstrual Cycle Support programmes including courses, an online community and peer support groups on social prescription are set up so that there's help at the point of reaching out to a professional for help (with self-referrals also available) so that Menstrual loneliness and isolation become a story of the past.