Patient Dignity

December 8, 2022

By Hollie Warren

The word ‘dignity’ when discussing periods is apt, we all have likely felt undignified whilst on our periods, especially when you start out. But this phrase is hypocritical, we don’t have control over our menstrual cycle.

When I was thinking of period dignity, I thought of my experience with periods as a disabled person, who has spent time in and out of hospitals. You’d think, ah you’re in hospital so it doesn’t mean anything if you’re bleeding right? Nope. Say if I had surgery and I’ve been on my period, I have panicked, as I won’t be aware of what’s going on down there! You can’t wear a tampon, or a pad. Just paper knickers (oh the glamour). That feeling of no control over your body or how it’s treated is a horrible feeling. Hospital shops sometimes do sell period products in their ‘gift shops’ but they extort people who need sanitary products in an emergency situation. I’ve never asked nurses on wards for pads – mostly out of my own mortification – so I can’t vouch for whether or not they give you sanitary products if asked. I imagine I’m not the only one who would be too proud and embarrassed to ask a nurse for a pad/tampon. And let’s talk about that embarrassment when you get out of bed and there’s a red smear across the sheets, again, that feeling of being dirty and unclean comes to mind – like it’s our fault right?

The anxiety of not having control or autonomy over your body during that time of the month is so degrading to people who have periods. Not being able to ‘pop to a shop’ because you’re in hospital, bedridden or maybe too embarrassed to send your dad out for your favourite tampons is the worst feeling in the world. But why are periods undignified, still, in the year 2022? Why are we sneaking down the period aisle, clutching the boxes to our chests as we do the mad dash to checkout, before anyone god forbid knows we menstruate? Menstruation is normal, sanitary products aren’t a luxury – they are essential and all people deserve to feel good about themselves, even when on their periods.

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