Menstruation education is a must on campus

Hillary Ma, Senior Columnist

It is no secret that prospective students come into college nearly clueless about sex education — let alone their own bodies. The monthly cycle of menstruation is a tiring routine, yet very few students know exactly what goes on during those painful days of bleeding. 

Incoming freshmen are required to take self-paced alcohol education and sexual assault prevention training courses, but there’s no such course for menstruation education. During the transition from adolescence to adulthood, students need educational support to learn more about how their reproductive cycles work. 

Combating the stigma around menstruation needs to start with the University. Thus, UT must prioritize providing comprehensive education and resources about menstruation to students. 

“The only thing I know about my personal menstruation is what I learned (from) having my period over and over again,” art history freshman Paula Botello said. “Just the bits and pieces of information from outside internet sources.” 

Katy Redd, associate director for prevention, development and media relations at University Health Services, explained that AlcoholEdu and Sexual Assault Prevention for Undergraduates are online training courses developed by EVERFI, a company that partners with different organizations and educators to provide online training courses. 

In other words, none of UT’s self-paced online courses are made domestically by the University. 

“We recognize developing something like this takes a lot of time and talent expertise, and this wouldn’t be something that we (can efficiently) develop in-house,” Redd said. “(AlcoholEdu and SAPU) are the types of things that are important enough that we wanted it to be a good source of information first.” 

Menstruation may not affect everyone, but over half the population at UT has a period. If the University has the funds and resources to invest in finding a comprehensive course to teach students about periods and self-care, it should do so.

“If the University did supply a module or package, it would be very beneficial to everyone that’s menstruating, regardless of gender,” Botello said.

However, Redd denoted that the UHS offers healthy sexuality workshops. Through these educational workshops, the University can provide information “pre-request.” This means that student groups or classes can request different workshops concerning any health topic. 

“For students who may have questions or concerns about menstruation, periods (or) what’s happening with their body and want to talk to a medical professional, we have a robust health center,” Redd said. “I would encourage folks that if you have questions or concerns about your body, the UHS can be a really good starting point.” 

However, a comprehensive guide on what students should know about menstruation could check off most of their floating questions. The University has the time and resources to invest in finding a proper comprehensive course for students to get general information about periods and self-care. At the very least, UT can provide some sort of online guide with linked reputable resources for students to reference. 

The lack of menstruation education can affect the relationship we have with our own bodies. When institutions like UT don’t provide the space to engage in dialogue with other students about these things, we perpetuate this parasitic cycle of stigmatization around these topics. 

Our community as a whole should not treat menstruation as something “taboo,” or shy away from holding conversations to learn more about our own physique. All it takes is for the University to step up and initiate these conversations to prevent students from biting more bullets during their time of the month. 

“It’s just another health concern just like any other health concern,” Botello said. “It needs to be given attention.” 

Ma is a Journalism and Chinese junior from The Woodlands, Texas.