Elite athletes help remove the stigma around periods and sport

A new initiative promoting positive menstrual health in sport and recreation has been launched, aiming to break down the barriers that impact female participation in physical activity.

Michelle Wilson

Active Inclusion, Taboo Period Products and the Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing (ORSR) have teamed up to create the ‘I’m an Athlete. Period.’ initiative.

Active Inclusion Chief Executive John Cranwell said the campaign had been made in response to the findings which came out of the South Australian Commissioner for Children and Young People’s ‘Menstruation Matters’ report.

“Girls are missing PE lessons at school, sporting commitments outside of school and ‘working out’ because they have a lack of confidence to participate in sport while on their period,” Mr Cranwell said.

“Active Inclusion has a simple purpose…to build active and inclusive communities and therefore we saw a need to address this issue.

“Through the ‘I’m an Athlete. Period.’ video we have produced, we’re aiming to inspire the next generation of girls playing sport by celebrating women, their period and the positive impact on sporting performances.”

The campaign features a number of South Australian elite female athletes who share their experiences around playing professional sport whilst on their period.

SASI athletes featured include Olympic cyclist Maeve Plouffe, Adelaide Thunderbirds netballer Tyler Orr, Olympic beach volleyballer/AFLW Adelaide Crows player Becchara Palmer, Australian karate athlete Michelle Wilson and Olympic runner Izzi Batt-Doyle.

Becchara Palmer said it was time to start talking about periods given it’s a normal thing that half the population go through.

“Rocking up to training and to competitions and having to put on a bikini while I’m on my period is something that I’ve had to do for years and years and I think is a real achievement in itself,” Miss Palmer said.

“I hope people view the word period in a matter of fact way, without judgement, without cringing, without feeling uncomfortable or awkward.

“We all are surrounded by women who go through this on a monthly basis.”

ORSR Chief Executive Kylie Taylor said through ORSR’s interactions with grassroots participants, administrators and volunteers, they found that clubs need to support menstrual health to help build a connected club environment.

“Unfortunately, we see too many girls who stop playing sport in their teenage years because they feel self-conscious and/or are embarrassed by their period,” Ms Taylor said.

“By starting conversations about menstruation and celebrating what women on their periods have achieved, we remove its taboo nature and open the door for a significant mindset shift.

“Clubs should also be considering actions such as implementing flexible uniform offerings as evidence suggests that white/light colour clothing or clothing that is too tight is often a deterrent for participation.”

More information about the ‘I’m an Athlete. Period.’ initiative can be found at: https://activeinclusion.com.au/im-an-athlete-period/