SINGAPORE - Menstrual cramps, irregular cycles and painful periods are issues that men do not face - and hence do not know much about.
Four students from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at Nanyang Technological University hope to change that with a final-year project called Pride in Our Tide. The campaign, launched in November last year in partnership with Thomson Medical, aims to get both men and women talking about menstrual health.
Campaign lead Michelle Tay, 23, said: "It's important to involve men in the conversation as this will breed better understanding, better health and stronger relationships with the women in their lives."
The team, which also comprises Ms Chloe Then, 22, Ms Sharmane Suen, 22, and Ms Gwendelyn Gomez, 23, surveyed about 140 women aged 18 to 25 and found that about 40 per cent would turn first to the Internet, rather than a doctor, when they have questions about menstrual health.
This could lead to misdiagnosed issues and not getting the proper treatment. For instance, women may attribute irregular periods to stress, when the reason could be polycystic ovarian syndrome, a hormonal disorder affecting five to 15 per cent of women within the reproductive age.
The team held roadshows at three tertiary institutions in January and gave students a short quiz about menstrual health. Ms Tay says about one-fifth of the respondents were male students who took part in the quiz to win a goodie bag for their partners or friends.
The three-month-long campaign wrapped up on Saturday (Feb 23) with an event called Time of the Month, which was held at B Collective, an event space in Tampines. The event included two panel discussions - one for women and one for couples. About 50 people attended the two sessions.
Speakers included Dr Tan Kai Lit, an obstetrician and gynaecologist from Thomson Women's Clinic, national athlete Shanti Pereira and married couple Caleb Leow and Tan Peck Ying, co-founders of PSLove, a company that produces heat packs for menstrual, back and shoulder pain relief.
The couple shared tips for how men can support their partners during their periods. Ms Tan said it is useful for men to know the differences in pad lengths, and added that Mr Leow carries a back-up pad with him during her time of the month.
Dr Tan said: "If the campaign can help people understand what is normal for the lady to go through and that there's nothing 'dirty' about menses, that would dispel any myths and biases about this issue."
Civil servant Valampurithavan Thamilarasan, 23, attended the panel discussion with his girlfriend, Ms Gillian-Ann Mak, 22, an undergraduate at the Singapore Management University.
He learnt how to support Ms Mak during her period, such as asking about her food cravings and helping her discreetly check for period stains.
He added: "These are things I wouldn't immediately think of, but now I will be more conscious of how to react during her period."