The New Zealand golfer was getting her physiotherapist to help stretch her back out during the final round of the tournament
Professional golfer Lydia Ko is being praised for talking about how periods affect her game and for normalizing discussion around the topic. The New Zealander is ranked No. 3 in women's golf and was halfway through her final round of the Palos Verdes Championship on Sunday when her physiotherapist helped stretch her back out. Golf Channel commentator Jerry Foltz was curious if the tightness in her back and hips was a recurring problem and how it was affecting her game. “I hope not,” said Ko. “It’s that time of the month. I know the ladies watching are probably like, yeah, I got you," she added looking at the camera, reported The Guardian. “So, when that happens, my back gets really tight, and I’m all twisted. It’s not the first time that Chris has seen me twisted, but it felt a lot better after he came. So, yeah, there you go.”
Golf Channel commentator Jerry Foltz was left speechless and scrambling for words, highlighting why periods remain a taboo subject for many, especially men. Foltz finally muttered an awkward "thanks." Ko laughed at the awkwardness hanging in the air without putting Foltz on the spot and said, "I know you’re at a loss for words, Jerry. Honestly it is.” The 17-time LPGA Tour winner speaking candidly about periods and laughing off the awkward moment was praised online. Very rarely is menstruation in women discussed in the context of sports and how it affects their game and Ko's words helped normalize the conversation. Women athletes have long adapted their training according to their menstrual cycles.
Marama Davidson, the New Zealand Greens co-leader, heaped praise on Ko's open interview. "Great work Joe Porter on @NZMorningReport just now towards normalizing the issue of period pain for athletes in light of Lydia Ko speaking plainly about menstruation symptoms. Definitely not acknowledged enough," tweeted Davidson. Karen Nimmo, a clinical psychologist who has worked extensively with high-performance athletes said it was a welcome change. “It’s really healthy that we actually mention it as a normal part of the sport that has to be factored in, not just physically, but also psychologically. We have to consider that people go through cycles and we have to think about that when we are planning training and events,” said Nimmo on New Zealand's TODAY FM. “Menstrual problems are a common part of elite sport, and finally we have a gateway to discuss it,” Nimmo said. “So go Lydia, I say.”
Some of the others who have spoken up about menstruation include Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui and British tennis player Heather Watson. In 2015, Watson said her showing in the Australian Open was down to starting her period. During the 2016 Rio Olympics, Fu Yuanhui's team came 4th in the 4 x 100m medley relay and revealed that periods had impacted her performance. She told reporters “my period started last night so I’m feeling pretty weak and really tired.”
Periods have long been considered a taboo subject but the conversation about periods is becoming more common. As we reported, Pixar's animation movie "Turning Red" pushed the boundaries of storytelling by including various subjects including periods, sexuality, crushes and adolescent rebellion. Many praised the movie because it helps teach young kids about their bodies as well. The animated movie shows the main character, 13-year-old Mei Lee, going through adolescence and it's a refreshing change to see menstruation handled with such sensitivity while normalizing it as well. Menstruation is rarely discussed in some households, so therapists believe this movie could be a conversation starter on the topic for kids.
In the film, when the teenager first turns into a red panda, she hides in the bathroom and her mother anticipating she has periods, gets her menstrual pads. Therapists believe the scene is a great way for parents to start the conversation about periods with their children. “Of all the things parents have to be concerned about when it comes to raising children, a normal body function like menstruation should not be one of them,” said Elizabeth Schroeder, a New York-based sex educator. “There is so much shame wrapped up in how bodies work when instead we should be celebrating them.” Normalizing menstruation helps girls become more confident through their teen years and not associate shame with having periods.