My Story: Calling on Society to Help Break the Stigma Surrounding Women’s Health

By Saniya Ghanoui —

XY discusses some of the ways men and women can work together to beat the stigma that surrounds PMS and menstrual health.


OBOS TODAY: Why, why do you think that is? Could you, um, could you explain why do you think it isn’t profitable when there are equal amounts of women on the earth as there are men or I think right now there are more women on earth than men, how is that not profitable? Could you just, you know, why do you think that is?  

XY: Yeah, that ties into the wage gap, right? Women are less and women are on, are not on, rather, leadership positions if you look at whether it’s a Fortune 500 companies or um, any industries. You don’t really see women leading and even when they lead, they are being paid less. Even that applies to sports as well, not just in business. And if women do not have the buying power for any drugs, the pharmaceutical companies do not find us as a viable target market, then they wouldn’t want to fund research in this area. And so that’s kind of like one of the, one of the reasons that I would put out, and I also want to note that it’s an oversimplification that people listening to this are to also do their own research and their own studies. We want to remind ourselves that a lot of the ills we see in society today are all very intersectional, right? The patriarchy has to do with the systemic inequities that we face as well.  

OBOS TODAY: Yeah. Yeah, it’s extremely frustrating, you know, um, being a woman or being a marginalized person in any way shape or form, and your um, needs aren’t valued, your life isn’t valued as much as compared to a rich, White man and therefore, there just isn’t enough research done to support your needs. It is really frustrating and I’m so sorry that you’re having to deal with that and that you’re having to face such real consequences that you know that you mentioned just from this example of you know, having to deal with PMS and you know, all the— everything else that comes with you know, your menstrual cycle and for the past 10 years that you’ve been dealing with. So, I’m really sorry about that, but what do you think, um what do you think could be done? You mentioned that you think women or at least the people who are being affected, you know, any marginalized group being affected in this way need to advocate for themselves. How do you think that can be done? Just from your individual experience, you know? I understand you can’t speak for everyone, of course, but mhm.   

XY: Yeah, thank you for that question. I think, first and foremost is to believe women, and I don’t think that just applies to the Me Too Movement, I think that applies to us when it comes to our health as well. I also want to point out that it’s not just men and people who don’t menstruate that cause this neglect and negligence towards women and our bodies and also anybody who menstruates. It’s also the women who don’t believe that we have PMS, because they don’t. I have many friends who don’t suffer any form of pain or changes to their mental, physical, emotional health from menstruating. For them, it is really just an effect of, “Oh, it’s that time of the month, let me put on a pad, so you know it doesn’t leak through and embarrass myself,” which is also another societal um, arbitrary norm. You know, why can’t we just leak free?

I digress, um, so I think it’s a collective effort that needs to be done. That women believe other women, even if their experiences with the same bodily functions are different. And men need to believe in women and there has to be a lot of systemic changes whether it be in the medical field, the science field— or even the legal field, right? Again, with intersectionality, everything is kind of correlated and linked and so we need to start, um, speaking up for ourselves and also for allies to speak to their committees um, or members of their committees who perhaps do not understand.