contraceptive medicineWith less than twenty days left before the gaokao, third year high school students have become the main focal point of teachers and parents. For female third year students, lead teachers are an extra layer of protection.


Lead teacher suggestion: if you have menstrual cramps, take birth control

Yesterday, an individual username 学生高考 posted on a Ma’anshan local website called xiaomawang, saying that she was the mother of a third year student. The user claimed that her daughter had returned home from school yesterday and told her that the lead teacher quietly pulled her to the side right before the end of class, asking her when her period was and whether or not she was experiencing menstrual pain. The lead teacher also recommend to the student that if she has menstrual pain, she should take birth control, and that she should do so as early as possible. This would delay her period, so as to avoid it having any negative effect on her gaokao.

The poster of the comments was interviewed by Nanjing-based Jinling Evening News, saying that her daughter gets good grades, and that since the teachers want to maintain a high average on the test scores of the students they teach, they also take extra precautions with students. Although Mrs. Shao understands the great care the lead teacher has, when it comes to this kind of sensitive topic, it would be better to get in touch with parents first to make a decision. Otherwise, when others find out, they might think her daughter is actually taking contraceptive medicine to avoid pregnancy.


Investigation: Nearly half of female students are worried

“I’m very worried that during the days of the test, my ‘good friend’ will show up and affect my test results.” Yesterday, reporters went to numerous high schools in Ma’anshan, and with the help of teachers, interviewed ten female third year students, half of whom had worries like this.

Among the ten girls interviewed, there were five who were “very worried”, as well as two who had gone to a doctor for medicine to adjust their period.

After doing some counting, one student named Li discovered that this year, her period would be starting during the days of the gaokao. “I get serious cramps and and other issues every time I have my period, and I am worried that over ten years of study might be ruined by my period.” For this reason, Li has found a women’s hospital, and would like to delay her period by taking medicine. “Although the doctor recommends that I do not do this, and instead that I would be fine just using some painkillers, I’m still quite worried.”

Some girls still plan to change the date of their period although it does not fall during the gaokao. Another student named Jing said that although her period is not during those particular days, she wants to avoid being nervous by having it sooner or delaying it. “I’ve never been very good at dealing with stress, so to avoid any surprise situations, I’d still like to make some preparations.”

“That day, our teacher wanted us to go buy birth control.” A student named Jie explained that in the past few days, the lead teacher had gathered all the girls in the class together and talked to them about the issue of periods during the test. Since the lead teacher is a younger male teacher, he wasn’t too clear either. He just said, “Go to the pharmacy and buy some medicine called Levonorgestrel (毓婷), then take it for a few days before the test.”

Jie said that she had not heard of this kind of medicine before, but that after school she went to the pharmacy with several other female classmates. When she loudly said, “I want to buy Levonogestrel”, the salesperson was astonished, responding, “That’s birth control medicine!”

The girls blushed immediately. “So awkward!”


Department of Education: Don’t encourage it, don’t promote it

Reporters interviewed a manager at the Ma’anshan Department of Education regarding the incident reported on the internet. The manager explained, most children today are only children, and that many parents give excessive vitamins and nutrients to their children. Additionally, puberty arrives for each child at a different time, so not even to mention high school, many girls are already having their periods during middle school.

The manager also said that according to their understanding, such medication recommendations have been made to female students for many years. Even during the high school entrance exam physical fitness tests, there are some third year middle school students who use contraceptive medicine to prevent period during running and avoid an embarrassing situation affecting their test.

The manager explained that because it involves private and sensitive issues, the Department of Education has never encouraged nor promoted these methods among female students, and that for the same reason, the Department does not have the authority and is unable to prohibit female students from taking birth control or using other methods to delay their period during testing times.


Expert: Taking progesterone has fewer side effects

Will taking birth control definitely delay one’s period, and is there any way to have the same effect while reducing side effects? To answer these questions, reporters went to to ask Director of the People’s Hospital of Ma’anshan City Gynecology Department, Jiang Yezhong.

According to Dr. Jiang, menstruation is an important physiological sign of maturity in females that  has a set cycle, and disturbing this cycle has no benefits to a woman’s body. If a period occurs during the gaokao, it’s most important to reduce any pain. Aside from enriching the blood through regular use of traditional Chinese medicinal food-based therapy, it’s very hard to manage this pain in the short term.

Jiang Yezhong told reporters that if a period must be delayed, taking birth control is not the best method since this medicine may cause nausea, vomiting, bleeding, and other unpleasant issues. There are many side effects, and according to statistics, contraceptive medicine has strong psychological effects on young women. For this reason, taking birth control is not as good as taking progesterone caplets (which are sold by most pharmacies). Dr. Jiang explained that progesterone is a natural pregnancy-related hormone with few side effects. Students can take 400 mg per day starting one week before the test, and can stop taking it immediately following the test. It cannot be used long term.

Dr. Jiang explained at the same time that most people who take progesterone are able to delay their period, but that some people are not sensitive to the medicine and do not absorb it well, so results may not be clear. Regardless, harm caused to the body will be less than if taking birth control. Any individual who finds taking birth control effective will also find taking progesterone effective since the reason for taking birth control is to take advantage of the effects of the pregnancy-related hormones. This is the same logic behind taking progesterone.


Original publication date: 5/22/13


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Original publication date: 2/2/13

sexedBoys roaring with laughter, girls are embarrassed

Eleven-year-old Keke is in the second section of the 6th grade class at Mitingzi Elementary School in Chongqing’s Jiangbei District. She told reporters that several days ago in a midday meeting, lead teacher Liu gave a speech to all fifty boys and girls on physiological and sanitary issues for women. Additionally, Teacher Liu gave a pack of sanitary pads to each of the twenty eight girls in the class. “They’re Hushubao brand with a blue wrapper and one daytime pad plus one night time pad inside” said Keke, whose information was backed up by her classmate Leilei.

Reporters went to Jiangbei Mitingzi Elementary School in the afternoon two days ago to do spot interviews with sixth-grade students. A total of eight students, including female students Lili from the third section of the 6th grade class and Yanyan from the fourth section, as well as male student Junjun, all had sanitary pads distributed in their classes during the week.


Synchronized distribution at all 65 district elementary schools

While at Mitingzi Elementary school conducing interviews yesterday, reporters talked with the school’s moral education director, Teacher Tan, who verified that in recent days the school had distributed both sanitary pads and adolescent health education informational booklets to about one hundred female students in the four sixth-grade sections.

“Before distributing the sanitary pads, we talk about some physiological and sanitary information with the students, and show some videos on adolescent health education,” said Teacher Tan. “We’ve been doing this for five or six years. Every year we distribute the pads once, which are provided by the Jiangbei District Board of Education.”

“This is a part of the adolescent  health education. The goal is to guide students taking care of their bodies, and tell parents how to look after the development of their children. The director of the “proper bodily practices” sanitary health program at the Jiangbei District Board of Education said, “We started giving sanitary pads to the adolescent and pre-adolescent girls ten years ago. This time, we provided materials to sixth-grade classes at forty-five schools in the district, as well as seventh-grade classes at 20 middle schools, for a total of between 5 and 6 thousand people.” The director said that the sanitary pads and reading materials are given with the support of the manufacturers and printers.


Parents: This is good for the children’s development

“I received sanitary pads from the school when I was a middle school student. I think that straightforward adolescent education and sex education is good for the development of children. I support what the Board of Education, the school, and the teachers are doing,” said Leilei’s mother, who from time to time shares information and secrets about growing up with her daughter.

Mr. Wu is a single father whose daughter also attends Mitingzi Elementary School. He strongly supports the school’s methods. “It easily took care of something that was a cause of anxiety for me, and helped me a lot.” Mr. Wu explained that he experiences some embarrassment when talking about adolescent health with his daughter because he is male. “It’s not just that both she and I feel embarrassed when talking about it, but I’m also worried that the information I’m telling her isn’t accurate and complete enough.” Mr. Wu feels that giving sanitary pads to female students is a way of teaching them how to care for themselves.


Experts: It’s worth promoting, but be careful how it’s done

Vice-Dean of Chongqing Normal University’s Preschool Education Institute, Professor Hu Chaoyang, feels that it’s healthy to give sanitary pads to sixth-grade girls. The practice is definitely worth promoting, “but we need to make sure to have conversations with them about adolescent health before we hand out the sanitary pads.”

Hu Chaoyang stresses that because fifth and six-grade students are right in the beginning stages of adolescence and are starting to develop a vague sexual awareness, teachers and parents must give straightforward and proper guidance.


News analysis:  Is Elementary school adolescent education nothing more than a pack of sanitary pads?

The news of the distribution of sanitary pads by a district in Chongqing was met with support by many parents. We do not oppose the distribution, but would like to point out that if this education is simplified to nothing more than the distribution of a pack of sanitary pads, some reflection is in order. Adolescent education is very important for children, especially when some students are already developing a bit of sexual awareness, so how we help children pass through this special period is crucial.

Female adolescence and puberty have two other important points. The first is the growth spurt starting at the age of nine that can result in a peak of 6-8 cm in growth per year, and ending at the age of 18 when bone stop growing. Girls can gain about 25 cm in height. The second is the increase of fat deposits on the body, especially in the buttocks, as well as the widening of the pelvis and the development of female curvatures. This set of bodily changes are the signs of a girl’s slow growth into a young woman.

The period during which puberty begins differs among girls, and is determined by various factors including heredity, level of health, nutritional condition, the local atmosphere, sea level, social and economic conditions, and sanitary habits. Generally, girls will begin puberty between one and two years before boys. In recent years, there has been a trend within China of girls having their first menstrual cycles earlier and earlier, which is due to increases in quality of living and economic conditions. Girls who experience extreme weight loss, lack of nutrition, or engage in too much exercise often have delayed first periods, whereas girls who are overweight often get their periods earlier than expected.

Psychological characteristics: Girls who are over ten years old are beginning to develop a sexual awareness, and beginning to have a hidden interest and feelings for the opposite sex. The phrase “first awakening of love” is used to describe this period.

By the age of 15 or 16, and following the second period of physiological development, girls will also start to become more psychologically mature. They begin to think of themselves as adults who want to rely on themselves and be respected by others around them (including parents). They want to be treated fairly, make their own friends, solve problems on their own, and have their own little world. At the same time, they hope to make emotional and intellectual connections with the opposite sex, but have unstable emotions, temperaments, and characters, and are still quite impressionable and influenced by social trends, their friends, movies, television, literature, and other types of information and media.

This is a period of rapid growth for both the bodies and minds of girls, a crucial period of development of intellect and talent in which an individual’s professional course is rooted. So it’s extremely important for them to put the majority of their energy into developing their real talents in order to set up a base for their future dreams and ideal education.  It’s also important to have straightforward sex education during this period, including sexual morality and legal issues surrounding sex. This helps girls develop a proper outlook and sense of morality, setting up a stable base for occupational and personal life in the future.


News Perspective

The present adolescent education and sexual education around China still has many blanks and holes, and is not as comprehensive as many programs internationally. If children do not pass the test of adolescent education, it will definitely have an effect on their healthy development. They can take an entire class, but the road ahead is still long, and teachers and parents must accompany them along it.


Comments from Weibo users

@墨片时代7:Society is developing more and more, but there needs to be more of this type of stuff in the countryside. Girls there need common physiological knowledge even more!

@诚诚三岁了:The Ministry of Health prohibits hospitals from giving milk powder to the parents of newborn babies to prevent covert advertisement by milk powder brands. What’s the difference between what this school is doing and what the hospitals want to do? It’s covert advertising! Just give the sex ed books to the school and let the girls make their own choices.

@h冬冬1116:I got sanitary pads from my school when I was young too!

@虎澧糊涂:Education still needs reform. This is a starting point.



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Doubts About Fujian Middle School’s “Gentlewoman Class”

January 9, 2013

School says it won’t end the class As it is written in The Book of Odes, “A well-mannered young woman is a good match for a gentleman.” Since time long past, girls who are able, virtuous, and beautiful have been highly sought after. Recently, in order to cultivate students into gentlewomen, Zhangpu #2 Middle School […]

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