Almost half of girls do not know what's happening when they get their first period, a new report in the UK has revealed.
According to the research, that was commissioned by period education campaign Betty for Schools, 44 per cent of girls did not know what was happening when they began menstruating.
Over half of the girls and women studied found that over half of them (60 per cent) felt scared or embarrassed (58 per cent), and did not feel they could confide in anyone that they had started their period.
The UK Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Paula Sherriff, told The Independent that the research showed there is a need to open the conversation about periods.
“Women need to feel they can talk openly about periods to ensure that future generations feel better informed and prepared,” she said. "It’s vital that young people, boys as well as girls, are educated to tackle the culture of embarrassment around periods."
This research comes just days after it was revealed British girls from low-income families are missing school because they cannot afford sanitary protection.
Actress Meghan Markle spoke out against period stigma in a recent essay for Time magazine, in which she tackled the issue in developing countries.
Meghan wrote in the piece that girls are "ill equipped with rags instead of pads, unable to participate in sports, and without bathrooms available to care for themselves."
In addition, with little discussion around the topic at school or home, many girls are led to believe their bodies are "purging evil spirits."
"All of these factors perpetuate the cycle of poverty and stunt a young girl's dream for a more prolific future," writes Meghan.
And the problem is happening the world over, she explains.
"Beyond India, in communities all over the globe, young girls' potential is being squandered because we are too shy to talk about the most natural thing in the world."
Meghan is an ambassador for the Myna Mahila Foundation who make sanitary products for women across India.
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