Is menstruation healthy?

On the evening of Wednesday 22nd October, PemWomen@30 played host to a panel discussion in collaboration with the Festival of Ideas, titled ‘Is menstruation healthy?’


The event, which took place in the Old Library, was organised by Dr Lauren Kassell and Leah Astbury and included a panel of five speakers from varied academic backgrounds, each of whom spoke for five minutes on what the question meant to them, before the issue was opened up to general discussion.

Each participant brought a different angle to the debate. Cathy McClive (Durham University) and Rebecca Flemming (Jesus College, University of Cambridge) gave an historical account of the issue, whilst Volker Scheid (University of Westminster) offered an East Asian perspective.

Also, bringing real world experience to the debate were Gedis Grudzinskas, a leading consultant in gynaecology and infertility, and Chella Quint, founder of the period positive campaign.

Such a broad range of speakers meant that the conversation ranged from Hippocrates to modern advertising, and a fascinating picture emerged of how women – and indeed, more often, men – have engaged with female bodies across the centuries.

Throughout the discussion, the recurring refrain was that our culture has an unhealthy attitude towards menstruation, and that it is not discussed nearly as frequently or as openly as would perhaps be appropriate. Consequently, it was extremely gratifying to hear a topic often skated over exposed to academic scrutiny in such an excellent forum for debate.

Charlotte Ivers (2013, Philosophy)