Mental Health and Menstrual Cycle

Mental Health and Menstrual Cycle
In November 2021, the Punjabi Women’s forum met to discuss the topic of the menstrual cycle and its impact on mental health - here’s a roundup of discussion. We were joined by founder of Cysters, Neelam Heera who facilitated discussion.

Within the Punjabi and wider South Asian community, reproductive health is a taboo subject. Cysters was founded in 2015 to combat misconceptions around reproductive health, challenging this taboo. Their key aim is to encourage discussion of reproductive health, particularly in marginalised communities.

Neelam opened with ice breaker activities to shed light on lesser-known facts about the menstrual cycle, sharing knowledge around reproductive well-being. She also shared her experience with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). One way to manage its symptoms is to through a hormonal contraceptive, and Neelam shared her journey through this with the group.

Attendees expressed concern about raising this topic with their employers, despite problem periods seriously impacting day-to-day life. Problem periods can be indicative of chronic illness and having an open discussion with your employer and acknowledging the reasonable adjustment policy in your work place is important.

The group was very open with their experiences with the menstrual cycle, including health issues such as endometriosis, fibroids and cysts. The forum was a great opportunity for the audience to share techniques that have helped them to manage their cycles with others too. What was clear from discussion is that many people experience issues with their mental health coming up to and during their periods. Neelam helpfully shared advice for approaching this topic with healthcare professionals, as well as the support available via Cysters.

A key takeaway for participants was that about noticing and tracking your cycle, and making a judgement call yourself. The group shared apps they use to track cycles, which had proved helpful for them in noticing change. They became more comfortable sharing as discussion went on, and became clear that there had been similar experiences with reproductive health within the group.

Overall the event gave the Women’s Forum unique insight into the range of challenges being faced by women in the community. We hope to delve further into the intricacies of this topic with Cysters in the future - watch this space.

download now