Periods are a 'cruelty’ during exams.

image source, Marcus Handstock

image caption, Emily Handstock, who was diagnosed with endometriosis in her 20s, remembers being stricken with pain during her A-levels.

  • author, Kate Morgan
  • stock, Community Correspondent, BBC Wales News

Emily Handstock vividly remembers „struggling to stand” as she sat for her A-level geography exam, hiding a hot water bottle over her jumper.

A 25-year-old woman with endometriosis is posting videos online documenting the condition and how it affects her life.

campaign committee, Love your timeIt has published an online guide that provides practical advice for students.

Wales said the wellbeing of qualifications learners is at the heart of its work.

Emily is no stranger to managing debilitating period pain.

While she was sitting her A-levels, she was being investigated for endometriosis and remembers trying to control her cramps with paracetamol, ibuprofen and heat.

„I had a big jumper and a hot water bottle and the watcher, a man came as he thought I was hiding something. I’m not very comfortable, I’m on my period. , it’s a hot water bottle, it’s right there,” she said.

Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue like the lining of the uterus grows in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. According to the NHS.

It’s a long-term condition that can cause severe chronic pain, fatigue, and difficulty getting pregnant.

Diagnosed at 22, she said she had „no doubt” she was behind in her exams as a result.

image source, Molly Fenton

image caption, Molly Fenton started the Love Your Period campaign while still at school

’Painful periods are not unusual’

Campaigner Molly Fenton recalled her time during her exams was a „nightmare”.

“Definitely leaked… but my biggest thing was that I always had to go to the toilet, and I had to do so often.

„We didn’t have these conversations, maybe because they weren’t typical symptoms, but I got really bad headaches, so that naturally affected my work,” he added.

Adolescent Love Your Period was founded at a school in Cardiff to end period poverty and stigma among schoolchildren across Wales.

„Painful periods are not uncommon, and they are problematic and not supported by everyone, and it affects quality of life…Most people live with bad periods,” she said.

While the 22-year-old is in talks, no action has yet been taken.

The group recently published a guide on the topic offering advice from test takers:

  • Be prepared – make sure you have menstrual products and pain relief on hand
  • Stay fueled – staying hydrated will reduce inflammation, and healthy snacks are available
  • Stress Management – ​​Relaxation techniques or gentle stretching can help manage stress and reduce cramps
  • Sleep – Prioritize a good night’s sleep before the exam as rest is important for cognitive function and physical well-being
  • Ask for help – talk to your teachers if you have severe menstrual symptoms and/or talk to friends, family or a healthcare provider if you need extra support
  • Source: Love Your Period Campaign

„We’re using social media to reach people — we can’t change choices, but we want people to feel comfortable.”

image source, Cassandra Lane

image caption, Natalie Brown, teachers felt menstruation affected attendance, exams and behavior and confidence.

’Pain is a real distraction’

Natalie Brown, who works with the Welsh Institute of Performance Science, has surveyed teachers and students about period learning in schools.

„Sixty-four percent of teachers said it affected general learning, and I think 45% of teachers said it specifically affected test results and test performance in schools,” he added.

A research partner at Swansea University said primary school children told her it would be „bad” if they got their periods during exams, with pain being the biggest worry for many.

„Being able to sit still for a long time in an exam… it’s a real distraction when you’re trying to do your best,” he added.

Qualifications Wales said learners can apply for special consideration where appropriate.

„Any learner who is temporarily ill or experiences another event beyond their control… may reasonably request an awarding physical procedure called „special consideration” to the extent that it may have adversely affected their ability to sit for the examination or demonstrate their normal performance.

This process involves minor post-examination adjustments depending on the timing, nature and severity of the disease or event.

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