Period Positive Menstruation Education Programme of Study

Recommended Progression of skills, knowledge and understanding about menstruation and reproductive health education for Key Stages 1- 5*

Rationale

The update of the new Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education statutory guidance for England has recently been published. The section on menstruation education has been expanded in the Statutory Relationships and Sex Education guidance for 2020 document but does not include details.

Through Period Positive research with teachers, health experts, parents and young people, former head of PSHE, qualified teacher and menstruation education researcher Chella Quint has developed a comprehensive programme of study.

This programme of study is offered as a guide for menstrual iiteracy curriculum planning.

If you would like to offer feedback, support this work or contribute your own lessons to a collection of peer-reviewed and evidence-based lesson plans, please get in touch via the web contact form.

Thank you,

Chella Quint,

Founder of Period Positive

*A note on Key Stages in England: Other countries may not use the same stage, year or learning levels. KS1 and 2 cover approximately age 4-11 and KS 3 is approximately age 11-13. KS 4 and 5 covers age 14 – 19.

KS1

Skills

S1 able to name external sex organs using correct terms (alongside or instead of colloquial words) –eg.  vulva, clitoris

Knowledge

K1 sometimes blood comes out of someone’s vagina and it is called a period or menstruation

K2 menstruation can be managed with cloth or disposable pads, tampons, period pants or menstrual cups, and you may see these items in your house or in someone else’s bathroom

Understanding

U1 this blood is not an illness or injury and shouldn’t usually cause worry

U2 it is something that most growing or grown up girl’s and women’s bodies can do

U3 periods are usually a way to know the body is healthy

U4 periods usually stop during pregnancy because the blood helps protect the growing baby

U5 periods come out of the vagina, but wee comes out of a different opening

KS2 (everything from KS1 plus the following)

Skills

S1 can label simple internal reproductive organs on a diagram – ovary, fallopian tube, uterus, cervix, vagina

S2 can place the steps of the menstrual cycle in the correct sequence

S3 can name the 4 types of menstrual products – internal, external, disposable and reusable (or inside, outside, throw away, keep using) and use correct terms rather than euphemisms

S4 can choose or recommend different menstrual products for different purposes (eg. for swimming, on holiday, sustainable options, comfort, cost, convenience, materials, flow)

Knowledge

K1 menstruation happens about once a month and can start from around age 9 -12, or earlier for those who start puberty early, and a few girls may never menstruate

K2 the start of menstruation is called menarche (pronounced MEN-ar-kee)

K3 it happens around 2 weeks after ovulation, when an egg is released from the ovary

K4 after around age 50 or so for those who menstruate, their body will slowly begin the process of no longer having periods – this is called the menopause

Understanding

U1 menstruation is one of the signs of puberty for most girls

U2 it is part of the reproductive cycle, which is how the growing body gets ready to have babies

U3 physical maturity is not a sign of emotional maturity, and people can choose to have a baby when they grow up, but periods don’t mean they need to have babies straight away. Not everyone chooses to have a baby when they grow up, and sometimes it’s not possible even if they want to

U4 menstruation is something people may choose to keep private, but it does not need to be kept secret – it is usually healthy and normal

U5 if periods are very painful, heavy, or last a long time, or someone has any other worries about it, they should ask for help from a parent, teacher or doctor

U5 mocking or teasing someone for menstruating is bullying

KS3 (build on KS 1 and 2, link to science curriculum)

Skills

S1 can label complex diagrams of the reproductive organs and sequence the reproductive cycle

S2 can name hormones responsible for ovulation and menstruation and chart a sample cycle

S3 can choose or recommend different menstrual products for different purposes (eg. for swimming, on holiday, green options, comfort) and confidently manage own menstruation (if they menstruate) or help others (if not), i.e. where and how to manage menstruation in different situations and how to use or advise others on products and self-care

Knowledge

K1 the menstrual cycle is about 28 days long but a wider average range of 21 – 35 days is still normal

K2 signs of healthy and unhealthy menstruation (average cycle length and flow amount, spotting or bleeding mid cycle, variations on menstrual blood and tissue, ranges of pain)

K3 awareness of symptoms of fibroids, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and womb-related cancers.

K4 awareness of signs of ovulation and healthy vs potentially unhealthy discharge

K5 awareness of range of physical and emotional responses to menstruation and advice for self care at different stages of the cycle

K6 examples and history of menstrual taboos

K7 how to recognise and challenge negative messages about menstruation

K8 the environmental and economic impact of disposable menstrual products

Understanding

U1 not everyone menstruates, even if you expect them to – some people do not menstruate if they are trans, intersex, have physiological differences, hormonal issues or have experienced illnesses or trauma that could stop menstruation

U2 most people who menstruate were assigned female at birth and identify as female, and some menstruators identify as non-binary or as trans men

U3 some people feel shame or anger about menstruation, some are very proud, some feel neutral about it, and some people may feel these feelings at different times and to varying degrees

U4 some of the language and images used to describe menstruation contribute to feelings of mentrual shame

U5 adverts for menstrual products can use shaming language to manipulate consumers; menstrual taboos in advertising can be challenged/avoided

U6 some of the history of menstrual taboos comes from cultural and medical beliefs and myths about menstruation

U7 Menstrual shame can have negative consequences for diagnosing illnesses, asking for menstrual products, and feeling confident in public. This shame can be challenged through knowledge about where it came from, getting more facts about periods and the menstrual cycle, and building confidence to talk more openly about menstruation

KS4 +5 (build on KS 1, 2 and 3, link to science curriculum)

Skills

S1 can identify signs of ovulation and list methods of hormonal contraception, how they work, and potential side effects and considerations for different types

S2 can identify aspects of menopause and perimenopause

S3 can navigate and troubleshoot unexpected menstruation management situations for self or others – e.g. leaks, caught short of supplies, menstruation during an exam, advocating for diagnosis of troubling symptoms

S4 can suggest or role-play what to say to healthcare practitioners when given scenarios with symptoms or worries

Knowledge

K1 menstruation can be interrupted by hormonal contraception

K2 fertility, infertility and assisted conception

K3 links between historic and current cultural menstrual taboos

K4 links between historic and current menstrual product advertising messages

K5 current campaigns challenging menstrual taboos and current issues to do with reproductive justice worldwide

Understanding

U1 menstruation can be interrupted by hormonal contraception, but not by using barrier methods alone

U2 contraception and reproduction are issues of consent and access, and choice is a human right

U3 menstruation is not a definite sign that you cannot get pregnant – on rare occasions ovulation occurs more than once a cycle

U4 some people feel good during their cycles, some bad, some neutral, and this changes throughout the menovulatory lifetime

U5 some people feel more sexually aroused at ovulation, premenstrually or during menstruation

U6 some people enjoy penetrative and oral sex during menstruation and readily consent to this, some people do not, and it is a choice

U7 the media discourse around menstruation mostly upholds taboos, which can lead to embodied shame for those who menstruate; this can be challenged and these challenges and changes are starting to happen

U8 menstrual taboos can contribute to barriers to reproductive health access – you can assert the right to this access on your own behalf and on behalf of others