WSU launches new resource to help educate communities about periods and endometriosis

Researchers from Western Sydney University have launched a new online resource aimed at reducing the incidence of undiagnosed menstrual disorders and improving the way young women learn about and deal with menstruation.

The resource, Menstruation Matters, explores period-related information – from what happens to the body during menstruation, to self-care advice. The resource has been guided by the results of a Western-led national menstruation survey of more than 4500 women aged 14-25. Key findings of the survey include:

  • 40% of women reported missing at least one class/lecture at least once due to period pain in the last three months and a similar number reporting missing an entire day from school;
  • Despite more than 50% of young women having pain with every period, only 13% considered something might be wrong;
  • Most women now get information from web-based sources about menstruation;
  • Most women are not taking the correct dose of analgesic medication at the correct time;
  • Just over half of school aged women had heard of endometriosis and
  • Women have trouble identifying symptoms of a ‘normal’ menstrual cycle, and therefore what symptoms mean they should seek help.

Project lead Dr Mike Armour from the University’s NICM Health Research Institute says survey results played a vital role in informing the online resource – which fuses the latest research evidence on how to identify problematic menstrual symptoms with self-care information that includes yoga postures, acupressure, heat and dietary advice along with information on how to correctly take analgesic medication.

“What the survey showed us is that most young women are turning to ‘Dr Google’ to answer their questions about menstruation, and that very few know how to identify if their menstrual symptoms are problematic and when they should seek medical advice,” says Dr Armour.

“Based on these findings, we developed a web-based resource which provides women with the latest research on self-care as well as a new tool called PIPPA, developed by the Canberra Endometriosis Centre – which can help screen young women for symptoms of more serious menstrual problems.”

Dr Christina Curry from Western Sydney University’s Centre for Educational Research at the School of Education is also part of the research team and emphasises the significance of this new website – which will be available to schools in the coming months.  

“Along with parents, health and physical education teachers play a significant role in educating young women about their menstrual health. This website will provide these teachers with an up-to-date, accurate resource to support them in their teaching,” says Dr Christina Curry.

Menstruation Matters is part of a 12-month project being conducted by an interdisciplinary research team which includes researchers from NICM, the University’s School of Science and Health and School of Education, and includes experts in period pain, women’s health, health promotion and education.

Corporate partner U by Kotex®, one of Australia’s leading Feminine Care brands, will also be involved in promoting the project and plan by using research outcomes to inform their own menstrual education packages available to students and teachers throughout Australia.

The researchers acknowledge the support of NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University and Kimberley Clark. This study has been approved by Western Sydney University Human Research Ethics Committee (Approval Number: H12599).

To access Menstruation Matters go to: http://www.nicm.edu.au/menstrualhealth

ENDS

9 August 2018

Emma Sandham, Senior Media Officer