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A bleeding shame.

  • Audio

About this work


Jane Garvey looks at changing attitudes to menstruation or 'periods'. An archive film shown to teenagers in US schools about menstruation made by Walt Disney is played back briefly. Chella Quint, the founder of Period Positive, promotes discussion around menstruation. She has a stage show about the history of menstruation which she toured to Edinburgh. She explains that sanitary products were developed as a result of surplus bandages. She suggests that the marketing around these products led to the stigmatisation of periods. Procter and Gamble, distributor of the two best selling sanitary protection products, provides advice and also works to destigmatise menstruation in communities who consider periods to be shameful. Garvey points out to Rosin Donnelly from P&G, that their candid online advice contrasts widely with their television advertising which is euphemistic. Surprisingly, there are still restrictions regarding what can be shown and said about periods in television advertising; up until 1988 sanitary protection could not be promoted on TV at all. Comedian Jenny Eclair and Garvey talk about attitudes to do with periods - Eclair is well-known for her comedy about periods and tampons. Annabel Croft, a former tennis professional and broadcaster, talks about the company she launched (DiaryDoll) which has designed underwear suitable for wear during menstruation. In sport, periods have rarely been discussed relating to performance until recently. Dr Richard Burden, Sports Physiologist to Paralympic and elite athletes, discusses why this field is under researched. One reason is that hormone levels fluctuate widely. New research looks at phases in the menstrual cycle so that training can be tailored individually. In 2013, Michael Gove decided that periods and sex education would no longer be taught as part of the Science curriculum. The Sex Education Forum disagree. The online the situation is different - in fact no holds barred with online apps, vlogs and social media. Young people testify how they feel about talking about the subject - there is still a sense of segregation between the sexes.



Physical description

1 CD (28 min) ; 12 cm


Originally broadcast on 24th June 2016 on BBC Radio 4.

Creator/production credits

Produced by Jane Reck, An Alfi Media production for BBC Radio 4.
Presented Jane Garvey.

Copyright note

BBC Radio 4.



  • English

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