What Aren’t We Speaking With Our Mothers About Feminine Issues?

I was really shocked to learn recently that in research undertaken by Mumsnet on behalf of BMI Healthcare found that 71% of women would be likely to talk to their partner about problems conceiving, but only 30% would speak to their own mother. Similarly, 62% of women would speak to their partner about heavy periods, but only just over a third would speak to their mother about the condition.


Then I had a bit of a think and wondered what I would do in either of those situations. Sadly I don’t have the option of speaking to my mum anymore as she died of breast cancer when I was 21. I did suffer from incredibly painful periods when I was a teenager, I would spend two days a month doubled up in pain, vomiting and would regularly miss school. I did speak to my mum though and after a quick trip to the family GP I ended up taking mefenamic acid until I gave birth to my own children which miraculously cured my period pains. I really don’t know whether I would have spoken to my mum if we’d had trouble conceiving, I would like to think that I would have, but I’m not so sure as sex (and making a baby has to involve that!) was something I never discussed with her. I remember her giving me a booklet about puberty when I was about 8, we never did discuss anything that was in it, but I devoured that booklet and when puberty hit I felt prepared.

I would like a different relationship with my own daughter though. We are very free and open about the human body and all of its functions in our house. We’re not ones to worry about nudity and as I worked for many years as an antenatal teacher my children are used to seeing plastic pelvises and knitted boobs lying around the house, they’ve watched my birth DVDs and all know the stories of their own births. I also bought this lovely book for my daughter by the fab Christianne Northrup which is a lovely gentle introduction to talking about the growing feminine body which I would really recommend. This one is on my reading wishlist too.


So, back to the research, where did we go wrong? Why do our daughters not feel able to talk to us about intimate parts of their life, why do we feel unable to speak to our mothers? In times past the great feminine wisdom was shared, like a special sacred secretive bond amongst women, just read ‘The Red Tent‘ to find out more. Back to the initial research, which also adds:

“This is despite the fact that family history is a key factor in many women’s health conditions, and seven in ten women surveyed know somebody in their family who has suffered a gynaecological issue,”

It surely has to all stem back to parenting? and how these issues are approached with our children and how we – as parents – deal with our own feelings and upbringing to ensure that we can afford our children the openness that they deserve?

If this has made you think about how you discuss feminine healthcare issues with your daughter I can’t recommend Dr. Christiane Northrup’s work enough, BMI Healthcare also have a pretty good women’s health section HERE.  Do you think your daughter would speak to you about heavy periods or trouble conceiving? If not….it’s never too late to change the way you approach this part of parenting, let’s make our generation the one that brings back that shared feminine wisdom again.


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Note: I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. I was sponsored to write this post by BMI Healthcare.

About SarahOckwell-Smith

Sarah Ockwell-Smith, Parenting author and mother to four.
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6 Responses to What Aren’t We Speaking With Our Mothers About Feminine Issues?

  1. Charlotte says:

    Lovely article but I have a son and I would like to be able to talk to him about this and not just leave it up to his father. Any suggestions?

    • Anjela says:

      Hello Charlotte. I also have a son and I found that when I did talk to him about the family and related little stories to him he started to ask questions. It then became easier to talk a little more intimately. I did find that our chats were often in the quiet time before bed but after his bedtime story. But you may find a better time to be quietly with your son. This of course is a lovely way to build the closeness that all mums with sons fear they will not achieve. Good luck

    • Anjela says:

      Charlotte may I also suggest that should your son be older and maybe more independent a chat about the family tree with some funny stories often gets things going. This bit of help was given to me when I wanted to talk contraception with my son.

  2. Anjela kewell says:

    I did not talk to my mum about conceiving but I did talk to her about other personal problems. My mum was the one person I turned to if I ever needed sound advice or help. However even though I am very close to my own daughter and we have discussed many intimate issues she did follow the advice of her health visitor when her own son was born until her confidence in her own judgement grew.

    However it is not easy to talk to a parent we do not feel close to. The bond that creates comfortable communication is created over many years. Unfortunately the society in which we find ourselves often forgets that family time is very important. How we change this is controversial. Society can’t go backwards. It is always evolving but sometimes important things get forgotten along the way. It is then that we need to take stock and stand up for sound, sensible and proven values to be kept in place and not be seduced by quick fixes.

  3. I never turned to my mother for anything, I never speak to her now, so my husband is my shoulder for everything,
    I don’t want this with my daughter, I want her to know she can talk to me, she is only 4 so still young, but I am open with her, and will answer any questions honestly, I won’t shy away from anything, which is what used to happen to me, till I closed up and stopped asking

  4. katesurfs says:

    I talk to my mother about EVERYTHING, and she’s relatively conservative, while I’m pretty crunchy 🙂 But we still find a common ground and understand each other. We also live 10,000 miles apart, I have only seen her once in the past 6 years, but we talk on Skype every week. I now have two daughters of my own, 3 1/2 and 15 months. I talk to them about everything. They SEE everything that I do (ahem, open door bathroom policy). We co-sleep, babywear, tandem breastfeed and share pretty much everything… If that doesn’t make my daughters want to share things with me when they’re older, I’m not sure what would! Every girl needs that female role model in their life, I agree!

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