About that time... Of the month
Menstruation, period, time of the month, riding the crimson wave, aunt flo is visiting, shark week. If you are reading this I’m sure you are familiar with the terms above and their meaning and yet it is the first time the word menstruation has appeared in this magazine.
Should it have? I believe the answer to that question is a resounding yes!
On January 20 of this year Great Britain’s Heather Watson lost in straight sets to Bulgaria’s world number 52 Tsvetana Pironkova at the Australian Open.
In a post-match interview she uttered words that have never before been said in such a setting.
“I think it’s just one of these things that I have, girl things, it just happens.”
There were gasps from the listening reporters, the ground shook, people started screaming and wailing “Is this the end?!
OK, so I may have made that bit up but, with the amount of discussion it has caused, I’m not far off.
Heather didn’t even actually say the word menstruation or period but the world understood and her comments have divided opinion. Some are saying finally a female athlete has spoken of this, including fellow ex-tennis player Annabel Croft. Some however say that if she was ill she should not have played and not used it as an excuse. I am firmly in the about bloody time its been spoken of camp (pun intended).
Had either of those events fallen on the dreaded first few days of my period, I don’t think my name would be on those trophies. So what about golf? Does it affect female tour players? I’m sure it does. I am now a fully qualified PGA professional so I do not play quite so much these days. The highlight of my amateur career was winning the English U18 and British U18 strokeplay in the same year. However, had either of those events fallen on the dreaded first few days of my period, I don’t think my name would be on those trophies.
The best-recorded example I have was in August 2002 when I played in the English Ladies Amateur Championship where my performance was so intriguing a small piece was written in the Daily Telegraph.
The article read: “Chester teenager Emma McBride squeezed into the matchplay stages of the English Ladies Amateur Championship with an unlikely turnaround over the magnificent Littlestone links. Having recorded a woeful 89 on Monday, McBride appeared well out of the running. But the Upton-by-Chester golfer improved by 14 shots for a 75.
“That put her in a play-off with five competitors chasing the 32nd and final place in the knockout draw – and she snatched the place by being the only player to get a par four at the second sudden-death hole.”
The real reason for the ‘unlikely turnaround’? The 89 was my first day of a period, the 75 the second day.
That’s it. The conditions of the course and the weather were very similar. As I’m a determined person I still went out on day one with the mindset to play well but physically I felt very ill; cramps, cold sweats, slightly dizzy, a lack of dynamic balance and an inability to clearly see the lines on the greens. The symptoms will not be the same for everyone, I am actually an extreme case as, after 10 years of going back and forth to the doctors in May last year, I was finally diagnosed with endometriosis.
The fact is I couldn’t say anything about the real reason to anyone except my parents as no-one ever talked about it. I was lucky enough to be part of the Cheshire ladies’ team and a member of the England U21 squad. Regular training sessions were held where all aspects of your play, performance and preparation were looked at in detail including psychology, diet, fitness, appearance, even down to what you should pack in your golf bag. But there was never any mention of how to deal with your period when playing. Even then this to me seemed crazy!
I believe it is still not talked about openly due to the fact that women, in regards to media coverage and winnings, are still are way behind men. To then talk about such a feminine issue could be viewed as a weakness and why women will never be as highly regarded as male athletes.
Well, it is not a weakness, it’s a biological fact. It happens to 50 per cent of the population every month. The range of symptoms that can be experienced are wide and varying and no doubt play a part in an athlete’s mindset and ability to perform.
So thank you Heather Watson, it’s 2015 and we are all ladies so let’s start being honest about something that is fundamentally part of us and our lives.