I can’t imagine I’m the only person who feels like they weren’t given a real education as a young girl. Even though I went to an all-girls school, I learnt nothing about sex (other than the ol’ putting a condom on a banana fiasco) and everything I learned about periods was from my Mum. It’s a shame that education and health tips for women aren’t widely spoken about. Even at school.
Health tips for women seemed to end with “take paracetamol for period pain” and “go on the pill if you have acne”. And it’s just ridiculous that we need to search high and low on the internet for any advice on things that we should have been taught.
If we were taught these things at an early age, with it spoken about more freely and honestly, there wouldn’t be half the taboo around women’s health and sex education as there is now.
It’s all such a normal part of life – it confuses me that adults are reluctant to talk about it. If you have a parent who was really open about women’s health then that’s amazing!
So today I want to share 10 health tips for women that also double up as 10 things I wish I knew about women’s health, sex, periods, the pill and more when I was younger. I wasn’t too shy about asking questions. Like I said, I learned basically everything about periods from my Mum.
I even remember questioning her in Sainsbury’s car park about it once!
So let’s look at 10 things that I wish I knew when I was younger about women’s health!
Sanitary products are a personal choice
Although there is a lot of talk these days about how bad for the environment some sanitary products are and whilst that’s true, your choice of products is YOUR CHOICE. Whatever you’re comfortable using or able to use, based on your own anatomy, body and abilities. I don’t believe anyone should be shamed for using certain products but it’s great that there’s plenty of underwear period products available.
PMS can be worse than the period itself (in my case)
Something that became very obvious to me as I went through my teens and early twenties was that my PMS symptoms were REALLY bad and often worse than the period itself. I’d take a stomach cramp over how I felt in the days leading up to my period any day! I wasn’t taught this in school – or anywhere!
PMS can also make your breasts lumpy – don’t panic!
Another thing I learned was that PMS and your cycle can make your boobs change a LOT. They can get bigger, fuller, tender, lumpy, bumpy and all sorts. And this is normal, so there’s no need to panic. This is why we’re taught to check our boobs once a month at the end of our periods.
But it’s important to know what feels right for YOU!
And knowing your body is also something I wish I was taught at an earlier age. I only started checking my boobs at around 17, when my then-boyfriend’s mum had bee diagnosed with breast cancer. I was convinced I felt something. Panicked endlessly. I’m now SO in tune with my boobs and what feels normal for me which is mega important.
Periods can seriously knock you out, so it’s okay to stay in bed
Back to periods. They can seriously knock you out. I think when we’re younger, we’re conditioned to just “power through”. Take some drugs and get on with it. But actually, sometimes, for some women, that’s just not possible. So you really need to listen to you body and know that if you absolutely can’t manage because your period is so bad, that’s okay.
But definitely seek advice from your GP if they’re so bad that you can’t function at all and they’re impacting your life.
Periods are NORMAL THINGS
A lot of health tips for women are around periods. And I don’t understand why it’s still so taboo? Something I used to do when I was in my young teens was try and hide the noise of my sanitary towels when I was at a friends house and changing them in the loo. How ridiculous! There’s nothing embarrassing about periods.
Related read: 4 Phases of the Menstrual Cycle
The pill is a choice not to be made lightly
The pill. Ugh. I’m on a pill now at the age of 28 that works well for me. But I started taking the pill (the combined pill) at just 14 or 15 and I deeply regret it. It was a choice I went into naively and I wish there were more health tips for women and younger women in particular around contraception and the risks involved.
Never be afraid to ask for help
Going through puberty, growing up, getting periods, having sex and all that other good stuff can be scary and confusing. You should never be afraid to ask for help. Which is difficult for young girls when nobody seems to want to talk to them about this stuff. But there should always be a friend, family member or healthcare professional you can turn to for advice.
Your cervical screenings are so important
I didn’t really understand what a cervical screening was until I was way into my 20’s. Which is utterly ridiculous! I think the screenings should be offered to women who are younger than 25 but that’s another post for another day. But women NEED to learn about these screenings at a younger age so they’re educated.
- HPV & Cervical Screenings: Let’s Talk About It
- 10 Years On: Why Has the Jade Goody Effect Wore Off?
- Tips For Tackling Your First Smear Fear
Everyone is vastly different and that’s okay!
And finally, what health tips for women don’t tell you is that all women are so very different. In every area of life and their own bodies, our experiences differ. And that’s okay! What’s normal for someone else, might not be normal for you. Embrace your uniqueness and learn to tune in to yourself!
Related read: 7 Ways To Tune In To Your Inner Voice