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Nicola Merrett

Nicola Merrett

Hi, I’m Nicola and I am an MSc Women’s Health student at University College London. I have an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Lancaster University, and I am passionate about using qualitative research to inform medical knowledge, practice, and technological innovations surrounding women’s health. My main interest surrounds people’s personal experience of menstrual pain and/or disorders, such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). My current research focuses on the earlier life course, such as teenagers and period pain. However, a life course approach must be multidimensional, and I have additionally researched infertility and the (peri)menopause. In my free time, I like to make the most of living in London for my masters. I also paint, sail, travel, and spend time with my family, friends, and dog! 

Award Title: Master's Scholarship

Start date: 01 April 2023

End date:  01 September 2023

Location of Research: Participants will be recruited across England. 

Project Title: Understanding young people’s experience of period pain 

Brief summary:

Qualitative research on the experience of period pain is limited but growing. This research is important in reflection of the prevalence of period pain and its impacts on women’s (and those assigned female at birth) quality of life both physically and psychologically. Social stigmas surrounding menstruation represent further challenges, where women report to be denied support for their period pain by healthcare professionals, colleagues, and family members. 

My project wants to address a gap in research that has overlooked young people’s experience of period pain and how age might influence accessing care. I will conduct semi-structured interviews with young people aged 16-21 with self-reported period pain. Each interview will explore their history, practices, and attitudes surrounding their period whilst they were aged 13 to 18. Qualitative findings will be used to identify participants health and wellbeing priorities for managing period pain 

Methods: Qualitative semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis. 

Benefits anticipated: 

We hope this project will be empowering for participants to talk about their period pain without judgement. This research will act as a springboard to encourage more researchers to apply a life course approach in women’s health research, addressing the gaps in knowledge we have on teenager’s experiences.  

Interviews will explore participant’s health and wellbeing priorities that they wish doctors and nurses can address, which must be unpacked in further work to implement into primary care.