Sophie talks periods at London girls’ school

The Duchess of Edinburgh contributed to the Just a Period campaign

Last week, The Duchess of Edinburgh supported one of her Patronages – Wellbeing of Women – by visiting Harris Girls’ Academy in East Dulwich, London, to join a workshop for young people about menstrual health issues.

The workshop was part of a wider campaign, Just a Period, launched by the charity, with the aim of educating girls and young women about heavy menstrual bleeding and pain.

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Sophie joined 11 girls and three boys at the Academy, which saw discussions around what a ‘normal’ period looks like and conditions such as adenomyosis, fibroids and polycystic ovary syndrome, as well as when and how to ask for medical help.

The Duchess also spoke to the pupils about their experiences dealing with periods.

According to the Daily Mail, Sophie spoke about the subject during a discussion with students that began by asking: ‘What is a normal period?’

‘When you have heavy periods worrying about when you stand up from a chair. That’s the worst one,’ she said.

Wellbeing of Women’s campaign is calling for an end around the taboos and stigma about having conversations around and getting help for periods.

‘Just a Period’ also seeks to drive better education and information for all by sharing the impact these problems can have on women and make sure there is good information and education available for anyone who needs it.

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Reports say that Sophie urged for period products to be visible, rather than hidden away: ‘Let’s get them out of the closet.’

She also told the three boys who joined the end of the session they were ‘very brave’.

Speaking about the visit, Dame Lesley Regan, Chair of Wellbeing of Women said: ‘We are delighted to be able to show The Duchess of Edinburgh how young people will benefit from a workshop that gives them a better understanding of menstrual periods. We need to educate and empower girls and young women about their periods so that they can take control of this important aspect of their health and wellbeing from an early age. Most girls and women can expect to have 12 periods a year for nearly 40 years of their lives, so understanding an event that occurs so regularly is crucial.

‘Too many women tell us that they only pluck up the courage to seek help years after first experiencing period problems. Early education will reduce unnecessary suffering for countless girls and women. I firmly believe that boys also need to learn about periods, so that young people are not embarrassed to have conversations about them with each other. Together we can end the shame, stigma and silence around menstrual health’.

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Jo Young, Principal of Harris Girls’ Academy East Dulwich, said: ‘We were delighted to host this very special event for Wellbeing of Women, a cause we are particularly pleased to champion as a girls’ academy. Students and staff were thrilled to meet The Duchess of Edinburgh and to have the opportunity to talk to her about their thoughts and experiences.’

Sophie alongside some of the students who took part in the workshop. (Royal Family)

In 2021, Sophie became Patron of Wellbeing of Women, where she joined a video call and spoke openly about periods and the menopause. During the call, the then-Countess spoke about the need to make women’s health a part of everyday conversation – and how young girls find out more about periods from their friends than their mothers.

She asked at the time: ‘The menstrual cycle, periods, the menopause, having babies. You know, we all talk about having babies, but nobody talks about periods, nobody talks about the menopause – why not? It’s something that happens to us 12 times a year, it’s something that’s incredibly normal but it’s something that is hidden and I think it’s time to say ‘enough’, we need to bring this out onto the table and say let’s talk about this’ she said.

Sophie added: ‘I’m sure when you first had conversations with your mother, everything was kept separate, we sort of found out more from our friends that we did from our parents, and I would hope that has changed at least a little bit for some young women today.’

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