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Women use 5000 euphemisms for periods

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A global survey of 90,000 people across 190 countries has found menstruation is still a taboo topic, especially in Australia.

Menstruation is still a taboo topic in many countries around the world, according to a major survey on the issue.

The poll of 90,000 people across 190 countries found up to a quarter of those surveyed from Australia, Brazil and Chile admitted to missing work, school or an event because they were afraid of someone finding out they had their period. That's well above the global average of 17 per cent.

At the other end of the scale, only between 5 and 8 per cent of Singaporeans, Indonesians and Italians said they had stayed home because they did not want people to find out they were menstruating.

The survey also found women refer to periods in code using some 5000 euphemisms, including "having the painters in" or "shark week" to avoid discussing the issue with male colleagues or relatives.

Puerto Ricans were most comfortable talking to male colleagues and classmates about periods, whereas participants from Saudi Arabia were the least.

"It's unfortunate that so many people feel they aren't able to be open about their periods, and, in many regions, this is even the case within families," said Ida Tin, CEO of Clue, a Berlin-based female health company which carried out the survey.

"We're hopeful that with increased awareness and education about the importance of female health, we can move this discussion forward on a global scale," Tin added.

"We need to do a lot more to make sure women and girls know and are comfortable speaking about their sexual and reproductive health and their rights," said Franoise Girard, president of the International Women's Health Coalition.

The survey published on Monday was carried out using Clue's female health app, with the help of the US-based International Women's Health Coalition which promotes women's sexual and reproductive health worldwide.