Despite the fact that around half the population menstruates, there’s still a stigma attached to talking about periods. Now, thanks to a new survey, we have a better idea of how those conversations do take place and a glimpse into the habits of people with periods around the world.
The Flex Company — known for their innovative menstrual disc that allows users to have period sex — recently released the results of their global periods survey, which involved polling nearly 2,000 people across six different countries (U.K., U.S., Canada, China, India and South Africa) on menstruation.
Turns out, tampons aren’t very popular outside the U.S. — it’s the only country where they are more popular than pads. There may be good reason for this: In China, for example, 60 percent of those surveyed were concerned that using tampons affected their virginity. And as a result, 93 percent of Chinese people surveyed reported they use pads (and 90 percent wish they had more options for period products).
Unfortunately, most people with periods don’t feel comfortable talking about them, with at least 73 percent of those surveyed either sometimes or always hiding their period from others. And while people surveyed in India were likely to hide their periods less frequently than any other country, they were also the most likely to miss work because of menstruation.
Part of that might be because of how we learn about periods. Fewer American menstruators learn about their period from their mothers than in any other country, and as many of us are aware, it’s not like sex ed in schools is all that comprehensive.
But when it comes to period sex, Americans are the most comfortable, with 34 percent of those surveyed saying they would “of course” have it. The U.K. and Canada were tied for second, with 19 percent saying they would be up for it. Those surveyed in China were far less enthusiastic about it, with 67 percent reporting that they would never have sex while they had their period.
While we still have a long way to go, even just talking about periods and cultural differences is a step in the right direction of destigmatizing this normal bodily function.