Tennis player Heather Watson is now the poster girl for menstruation and sport. Bit embarrassing, but less so compared to the other famous tennis poster girl doesn't wear pants and scratches her arse. Besides, we don't have to be embarrassed anymore about our *whispers* women's issues, because now other female athletes are joining in to tell us of their favourite 'when I was on the rag' story which is quickly turning into a version of the Four Yorkshiremen sketch.
Radcliffe: When I was on my period I broke the world record at the Chicago Marathon.
Pavey: That's nothing, I'd just had a baby when I won Gold at the European Championships, I slung the umbilical cord over my shoulder and went for it, had no choice.
Grey-Thompson: In my day we couldn't afford periods. I had eight of them one year and I thought myself lucky.
Croft: You lot don't know you're born. We weren't allowed to have periods. I had to win three tournaments before I was allowed to ovulate, and then it was only for five minutes on a Sunday.
Now that we're talking about them, here are some very important things everyone should know about periods:
1. The idea that women should 'take a break' every month is due entirely to marketing, having a period each month seems more 'natural'. This has become common wisdom, although doctors do now say that it's fine to only have four breaks a year. Don't know how they come up with this figure. It may be a massive conspiracy by the makers of sanitary products and the government because.....
2. The government charges VAT on sanitary product because it is a luxury item. This is so wrong that all women should shun these 'luxuries' and bleed all over the place until they change the law, but every time I suggest this people look at me like I'm mad.
3. Despite what teenage girls around the country tell their PE teachers it's fine to go swimming when you're on your period. Even if there's a shark in the pool as they are attracted to sweat and other bodily fluids too so they are just as likely to attack your male classmates. Actually, probably best not to go swimming with a shark just in case.
4. There are roughly 2 million euphemisms for menstruation, which seems like a lot, but if men had periods there would be 6 million.
5. Just over a hundred years ago doctors were still discussing if menstruating women could turn bacon rancid. Just because you're a doctor doesn't mean you're not a moron.
6. In 2005 Gian Franco Kasper, president of the International Ski Federation said that there were restrictions on the women's sport on medical grounds- 'It's like jumping down from, let's say, about two metres on the ground about 1,000 times a year, which seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view.' He seems to be implying that it might break their wombs. The bacon thing suddenly seems a little bit less stupid in comparison.
Opening up a debate about periods would be great as long it doesn't descend into questioning if should women be allowed to fly military jets, rule countries or handle pork products.
I know this is a nuisance, but the thing is that there are loads of us women. Not all periods are the same. Some women just have a day of cramps and are fairly regular. Others can come on at any minute and will stab you in the eye/ burst in to tears of you look at them funny. Generally though it's probably true to say most of us manage to incorporate periods into our lives without huge effect. Sometimes they cause problems, making you more likely to snap at someone, ruin a white sofa or lose a major tennis tournament. We should all be grown up enough to be able to say, 'Sorry about that, got the painters and decorators in' and get on with our lives. It's not an excuse, it's just how it is sometimes.
I tell you what though, when it comes to physical limitations and sport, aren't those blokes doing remarkably well? I'm not being sexist, but in all honesty with their most vulnerable area dangling front and centre, they are not really designed for sporting activity are they? With all the swinging, kicking and flaying about they could really hurt themselves and not be able to have babies and if they can't have babies, what's the point of them? However, those lovely chaps have largely managed to overcome this with cups and straps and a gentleman's agreement to keep things 'above the belt'. Good for you for overcoming your physical disadvantages, but do be careful now.