Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Change Is Coming

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Change Is Coming

Article excerpt

We have always had a policy to answer our son's questions honestly. He knows there is no subject that embarrasses his dad or me, so he can ask us anything. Thanks to this spirit of openness, he entered his Year 6 sex education class without anticipating any surprises.

My own sex education consisted of a series of misunderstandings based on my cousin's cocker spaniel. Every time Snoopy was in season, a shower of scraggy mutts ripe for some no-strings romance materialised, while poor Snoops was placed in solitary. This led me to all sorts of concerns surrounding my own developing lady-plumbing.

So I was pleased when my son was fairly casual about most of his sex education class. One element, however, sparked outrage: periods. Not their existence but the realisation that this five-day event, the effects of which range from an inconvenience to an all-out trauma, is happening all around him and yet no one talks about it. He didn't see it as a private matter but as a secret one, saying: "If that happened to me, I would talk about it ALL THE TIME!"

This set me thinking. I'm in my forties. I'm approaching the age when the once-distant concept of the menopause may come into focus at any time and I don't know anything about it.

I knew a couple of my colleagues were of an age where it might be on the cards, so one afternoon in the staffroom I asked. And out it poured.

It seems that many of these women who I'd shared a room with for two years were in the eye of the menopause storm and no one had discussed it, at least not in tones other than hushed ones. …

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