Research reveals affect of poor education about periods and puberty

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

Almost half of women did not know what was happening to their bodies when they had their first period, research suggests.

A study of 2,000 women across the UK has also found that 60 per cent felt scared, while 50 per cent did not feel confident enough to tell anyone.

Furthermore, 59 per cent said that the lessons they had had at school about periods had been old-fashioned. And 76 per cent of the 16 to 24-year-olds in the survey said the lessons they had received were “awkward”.

Almost three quarters of the respondents (73 per cent) said they didn’t feel able to ask questions in their lessons about periods.

The study was commissioned by Betty for Schools, a new, freely available resource for teachers to use with students aged eight to 12.

The government acted recently to make relationships and sex education (RSE) statutory in all schools from September 2019, with a new curriculum to be developed and consulted upon in the coming months.

The respondents to the study said that they would like period and puberty education to focus on more than just the biology aspects. They would like to see included things such as discussion about sanitary products and what is “normal” both physically and emotionally.

The free to download Betty for Schools resource offers a curriculum-linked education programme with films, animations, quizzes and other interactive activities.

Rebecca Martin, head of partner relations at Betty for Schools, said: “Despite the common belief that we live in a much more open and enlightened age when it comes to issues around sex, sexuality and the human body, the results of our survey clearly show that we still have a long way to go in applying the same approach to the subject of periods.”

Betty for Schools resources have been quality-assured by the PSHE Association and are available for 8 to 10-year-olds and 11 and 12-year-olds.

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