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Let’s talk about periods.

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Alt: Background scribbles say, “Aunt Flo is in town!” and “I guess it’s that time of the month!” A scribble in the foreground says, “Call it point, period.”

To who We ❤ Health Literacy Headquarters, dots are our second favorite punctuation mark. (You’ll always be the first in our heart, em dash!) But that’s not what we’re talking about today. We’re here to chat about the other type of period: the menstrual type.

As you know, dear readers, we always seek to use clear and precise language to talk about bodies, even some of those, ahem, less elegant functions, and periods are no exception. Check out these tips:

  • Stick to simple words like “period.” The “menstruation” is a bit excessive, so call it a period when you can. In more detailed materials, where “menstruation” and “menstrual” may be terms that need to be known, be sure to include a definition. We ❤ this from Planned Parenthood: “Menstruation, also known as menstruation, is when blood and tissue from the uterus leave the vagina. It usually happens every month. “
  • Skip the euphemisms. When you text your best friend, feel free to talk about “a visit from Aunt Flo” or “that time of the month.” But these terms may not be clear to everyone, which is why we generally leave them out of our health materials. Speaking of …
  • Know your audience. In particular, attitudes around periods vary greatly in different cultures. When in doubt, test with your target audience to make sure your content resonates.
  • Leave the “feminine” out of that. Equating periods with femininity is do not a good look. exist many women who do not have periods, because they are transgender, take certain medications, or have a health condition such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) or low body weight. And there are many transgender men and non-binary people who do have them. Furthermore, gender terms such as “feminine products” are much less of course other alternatives like … wait for it … “sanitary pads and tampons”.

Bottom line: When writing about menstruation, choose clear and simple terms that everyone can understand. Period.

Tweet about it: Let’s talk about periods. (No, not the grammatical kind!) Check out @ CommunicateHlth’s tips on writing inclusive content on #PlainLanguage about menstruation: #HealthLit

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