Normalising the Conversation About Periods

For something that affects basically half of the population every month, it is quite ridiculous that menstruation and periods still have a massive stigma attached.

Hidden at work, not discussed at home, hushed up at school, never seen in public – the 24/7 period cover up.

  • 3 in 4 women say there is a stigma attached to having a period
  • 9 in 10 women hide their period
  • Libra is working with Shameless to break down period taboos

We don’t talk about it

Melbourne, 19 August 2019: New research launched today from leading feminine care brand, Libra, reveals that periods are a topic hushed up and hidden at every level of society – on a scale that transcends any other topic, let alone something that affects 50% of the population.

Alarmingly, 3 in 4 New Zealand women say there is a stigma attached to having a period, with periods listed as more of a taboo than drugs, sex, STDs and mental health problems.

The survey went on to uncover how period taboos are having a concerning effect on behaviour. A staggering 9 in 10 women will go to great lengths to hide their periods, with women avoiding swimming (65%) and light-coloured clothes (70%) or hiding feminine care products in their pocket, sleeve or bra (68%).

For young girls, their shame of menstruation is so bad that almost 60% would rather fail a subject at class than have their peers know they are on their period. A further 17% would rather be bullied than have their peers know. A quarter of New Zealanders are even embarrassed to purchase female care products.


Keeping it hush

This lack of confidence about menstruation is driving women to do all they can to avoid conversations about their periods. In fact, the knock-on effect is continuing into our relationships; 72% of women would rather discuss the direction of their relationship with their partner than their period.

Dr Lauren Rosewarne, Senior Lecturer in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne said: “While our society is becoming increasingly open and tolerant around topics such as transgenderism, homosexuality and mental illness, female menstruation is still something that’s seen as unacceptable for public discourse.

“Perhaps that’s because periods aren’t something we commonly see on TV, in movies or on Instagram – if young girls are brought up to hide their period, then they will continue to feel and believe it’s something shameful, embarrassing and needing to be hidden.”


Normalising the conversation

The good news is that women want to see change. Two thirds of women in New Zealand agree society’s attitude towards periods is old-fashioned, while men and women both agree that girls’ confidence is at risk if periods aren’t discussed openly.

Shameless hosts Zara McDonald and Michelle Andrews, who regularly address women’s issues on their popular podcast, have partnered with Libra to squash the shame around periods.

Zara McDonald said: “I was always so embarrassed about periods when I was younger – it’s taken me until now to realise that there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.”

Michelle Andrews agreed: “We only hope that young girls growing up don’t go through the same humiliation that we felt, having to feel guilty for their own bodies.”

Caitlin Patterson, Executive General Manager of the Asaleo Care Retail Business said: “Libra has played a leading role in helping to de-stigamtise menstruation for over forty years across ANZ. This new research shows just how far we have to go as less than 1 in 10 New Zealand women feel empowered when they have their period. Periods are such a normal and healthy part of life, but aren’t discussed in public discourse and they aren’t shown in pop culture. That’s why in our latest TV commercial, we’ve made a point of showing blood, not blue liquid.”

The research was conducted by Harvest Insights on 1000 men and women from Australia and New Zealand, commissioned by Asaleo Care.

The Libra Manifesto reads:

We bleed.

Every. Single. Month.

It’s natural. It’s normal. It’s healthy.

And it’s not blue dye. It’s red.

Sometimes it’s painful.


And just plain hard.

But not being scared to talk about it?

That’s Bloody Awesome.


Libra has been making women’s favourite feminine care products in Melbourne for over 40 years. Libra offers a broad range of pads, tampons and liners for everyone, supporting women to live their best life.

This article was written by Kidspot with information provided by Libra.

Do you find it difficult to talk to others about periods or to talk to your kids about it?

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  1. MuddledUpMolly 30/09/2019 at 12:59 pm

    I think that it is great to see periods being ‘normalised’ but I don’t believe that putting a private bodily function on show for the world to know about is necessary either. My 2 year old wanted to know what my tampons were and I explained to her in an age appropriate way what they were for. I think talking about these things normally and in a matter-of-fact way is just as effective.

  2. Alezandra 29/09/2019 at 10:58 pm

    This looks like a good campaign, straight to it. This research is good and I grew up with periods as something not to really be talked about. I remember in my secondary school years that me and my girlfriends would have codes to mean certain things, like the monthly visitor, or asking if any of us has an extra sandwich (to mean a disposable pad). Like it was the CIA or FBI kind of thing. We definitely need to normalise it and it’s just part of being a woman.

  3. Mands1980 24/09/2019 at 9:20 am

    This is great I find out talk about it more now and haves been very open with my 11 year old as I don’t want her to be afraid about it. My daughter often asks questions about them as well. I am very open with my husband as well so he knows when I have my period. I think we are getting better but it still is a topic most don’t like to discuss.

  4. Micht 23/09/2019 at 2:36 pm

    I think its so sad that this is even an issue causes so much embarrassment…in my opinion mums and significant ladies in a girls life should also support and offer a chance to talk about it openly and freely…i have spoken about it to friends like i would about any other topic cos thats what my mother did with me…she normalized it for me… i think i would do the same for my child.

  5. SarahBlair 18/09/2019 at 3:51 pm

    To be perfectly honest, I have been with my husband for 21 years and I have never discussed my period with him, the only way he would know is if he tried to make sexual advances and I would say something like ‘sorry, your outta luck…’ My daughter tells me that she has run out ‘ummm…stuff’ when she need feminine hygene products, so in our house its not a very spoken about topic. My mum was a nurse and midwife before she retired and she would often discuss child birth etc in detail as we ate dinner, I think maybe it just made the whole topic uncomfortable to me

  6. Shorrty4life1 10/09/2019 at 8:32 pm

    I found this a great read. I’m one to not go swimming and not wear colours that could determine I’ve got my period incase it leaks through. I never tell people and hate talking about it unless I’m sore or bleeding super heavy and drained then I may let on to my mum or sister and my husband but would never have confidence to tell anyone else. My daughter is almost at the age where I need to inform her in the most simple way possible just so she knows as when I was a teenager I had no idea and freaked so would hate for her to go through the same.

  7. Bevik1971 09/09/2019 at 4:13 pm

    I don’t mind talking about my period, even to men haha 🙂 My boss and I (female) whinge about our period woes at work often and my hubby is very sympathetic as I have terrible periods which are getting worse as I get older 🙁 I have leaked badly at times (and at the worst times), but really there’s not much that can be done but deal with it

  8. dawnblyth 06/09/2019 at 1:18 pm

    I have no issues talking about my period, having a period or what a period is. Recently I had a conversation with my 10yr old son about what it is. I have issues with polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis – and am currently waiting a hysterctomy which will hopefully fix all the issues that have arisen. I don’t have a problem buying sanitary products from the supermarket. I do often wonder what people think when they see them in my trolley. Do they think I am having my period? Or is she stocking up? Those thoughts do go through my mind. In saying all of this, I am quite private when I have my period. I don’t go around telling people when I have it, or how bad it is etc. That is just me and I guess that is just the way I was bought up, you didn’t talk about these sorts of things with men or with other people. My husband will talk about it a little, but he feels uncomfortable talking about it and watching the tv adverts. We are all different in how we approach things in life.

    • Loucyd3 29/09/2019 at 10:29 pm

      When I was a teen you would never hear any of my friends talking about periods, but now as a mum with a daughter I want her to know it’s normal and that it’s nothing to feel embarrased about as is it apart of becoming a women. My niece is now at the age where she may start her period any time and we talk about the feelings she may experience and what products may suit her and to let her know of she needs to talk about what going on that it’s ok and not to hide away and feel like her period is taboo.

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