Here at We ❤ Health Literacy Headquarters, periods are our second favorite punctuation mark. (You’ll always be first in our hearts, em dash!) But that’s not what we’re talking about today. We’re here to talk about another type, the menstrual cycle.
As you know, dear readers, we always aim to use clear and precise language to talk about bodies, even some of their, well, less elegant functions, and periods are no exception. Check out these tips.
- Stick to plain language words like “period”. “Menstruation” is a bit much, so just call it a period when you can. In more in-depth material, where “menstruation” and “menstrual” may be terms you need to know, be sure to include a definition. We ❤ this one from Planned Parenthood. “Menstruation, meaning menstruation, is when the blood and tissue from your uterus comes out of your vagina. It usually happens every month.”
- Skip the euphemisms. When you’re texting your BFF, feel free to talk about “Aunt Flo’s visit” or “that time of the month.” But these terms may not be clear to everyone, so we generally leave them out of our health materials. Speaking of which…
- Know your audience. In particular, attitudes towards periods vary greatly in different cultures. When in doubt, test with your intended audience to make sure your content resonates.
- Leave out the “femininity”. It is to equate periods with femininity no good look There are many women who do not menstruate because they are transgender, take certain medications, or have a medical condition such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) or low body weight. And there are many transgender men and non-binary people who to do have them. Additionally, gendered terms such as “women’s products” are much less common simple than alternatives like… wait for it… “pads and tampons”.
Conclusion. When writing about menstruation, choose clear, plain language terms that everyone can understand. Era.
Tweet about it. Let’s talk about periods. (No, not the grammatical kind!) Check out @CommunicateHlth’s tips for writing inclusive #PlainLanguage content about menstruation: https://bit.ly/3vgg8RS #HealthLit