We used to talk about “monthlies” and now it is considered quite normal to have TV advertisements talking about “having your period”. Saying someone is gay is regarded as being very acceptable, but not in the 1950’s, when being homosexual was actually illegal and punishable with a long prison sentence.
But one area of discussion still needs to be navigated with care. That is any conversation about how we expel our waste matter from our bodies and the parts of our bodies that we use to do so. We still laugh nervously if someone should mention that they have haemorrhoids; and piles in certainly not a subject for conversation over the table at a meal. We say “I have some irritation around the back passage” not “I’ve got itchy piles”. Instead of saying “I am suffering from bleeding piles”, I heard a man say to his friend in the pub “I have got the usual discharge from my farmers”, (short for Farmer Giles and rhyming slang for piles). Irritated Chalfonts is another euphemism for an itchy bottom since Chalfonts is short for a town called Chalfont St Giles, for which the rhyming slang connection is obvious.
All this is very confusing, especially to someone trying to master the English language. In fact, piles is a very ancient word, thought to be over 500 years old and much more commonly used then than now. Just to confuse matters even more, the word piles can mean “lots of” or many as in “oh, he’s got piles of money”. So a mother could well talk about finding piles of dirty clothes in her son’s bedroom and no one would imagine she was talking about haemorrhoids. But imagine the complexity of trying to understand all of this if you were learning English. Gosh, it can make life a lot easier having English as your maternal language. Or at least it is if you are suffering from an itchy anus, or, as we say, “your farmers are giving you some grief!”