Why everyone needs access to better information about their cycle
According to research from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, it is estimated that up to one in three women will have problematic bleeding at some point in their reproductive lives. Add to this, the estimate that one in ten are living with endometriosis and one in three will find evidence of a fibroid by the time they’re 35, and it becomes apparent just how common menstrual disorders are.
The concern within the medical community is that too many people are living with a menstrual condition that remains undiagnosed, and that there are some big barriers to break down before the situation can improve.
Dr Jacqueline Maybin, academic gynaecologist at the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh, believes we need to start with smashing the taboos around discussing menstruation.
Whilst Dr Maybin acknowledges that the standardised criteria for assessing normal versus heavy periods is helpful for clinicians, she adds that it can be very difficult for women to accurately assess regularity, volume, duration and frequency on their own. She states, “The current rule of thumb is that if periods are having a negative impact on your life, like missing school or work, then you should speak to your doctor.”
Historically there has been a lack of agile research into this area, and even today we’re seeing insufficient data collection around key trials, such as vaccines. As menstruation is something around half the population will experience, this is problematic to say the least.
Dr Maybin points to the importance of finding a way for people to effectively self-assess their menstrual cycle and the need for clinicians to have access to regularly updated data in this area.
The need for more agile research goes beyond getting a diagnosis for a menstrual health condition. Giving women and those who menstruate personalised data and helping them understand what normal looks like, plays a role in finding them the right menstrual products to make their period more comfortable and arms them with the insights they need to understand their body better at different life stages, from trying for a baby to reaching menopause.