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MENSTRUATION AND MENTAL HEALTH

Menstruation or Periods or Monthly is the discharge of blood and mucosal tissue from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina. The mental health of females is greatly affected by the process of menstruation. For example, they may experience mood swings, irritation, sudden cravings, and cramps at this time of the month. Enough care must be given in terms of physical health as well as mental health.

You may ask, mental health? But how is it relevant to menstruation? Well, the female hormones i.e., progesterone is the highest in our body during our monthly cycle & although its main function is to regulate the cycle however it also has some side effects like headache, fatigue, depression, swelling, tender breasts, and many others.

Serotonin (mood, anxiety, and happiness regulating hormones) and dopamine (regulates the feeling of pleasure and focus) levels also change while menstruation.

MENSTRUATION AND MENTAL HEALTH

But the condition of tribal women is much worse. Many pieces researches have shown that tribal women don’t have proper knowledge about Menstruation and their menstrual practices are non- sanitary. They don’t have any access to feminine hygiene products and lack conceptual clarity about menstruation. The most common source of their knowledge is the discussion between friends or information by their mothers. They are easily influenced by whatever they are told about the concept as nobody is there to guide them factually. These girls and women often face gynecological problems as well. The tribal people believe that there should be no regular bath cycle during the menstrual cycle due to which girls use dirty old rags for the absorption of menstrual blood. Other unsanitary ways include the use of hay, mud, etc., which is stuffed in the vaginas to stop the blood flow.

Feminine Hygiene Issues around the world

This is just not it! Females may also face some period related Syndrome or Disorder like

Premenstrual Syndrome

This syndrome is quite common. This usually occurs 5- 7 days before menstruation.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

This is developed due to Premenstrual Syndrome and there is no certain or specific cause for this other than being related to PMS.

Symptoms of PMS and PMDD may include

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Irritation
  • Anger
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Depression
  • Swelling in parts (other than the vagina)
  • Tender breasts
  • Swollen vagina
  • Weakness (differs according to every females’ body)
  • Pain (some may go through mild, little or no pain while others may face an extreme level of pain, and even moving an inch for them causes them to cry out due to the cramps)

Treatments

  • Birth Control Pills
  • Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen, Advil, etc.
  • Naproxen sodium like Aleve eases cramps and breast discomfort
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, etc.) reduces mood swings

Therapy

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT helps women manage their hormonal changes and mood swings. Therapy may help them channelise their negative thoughts into positive thoughts by talking.

The female body requires great affection, love, and care at this time. This happens due to the so-called Period Stigma. Period Stigma can be defined as the stigma of cultural taboos due to lack of education, discrimination & period poverty (the inability to access or afford feminine hygiene products.

  • The period blood is impure- This results in casting the women out of the house during her menses & promotes the idea of untouchability
  • Women are not allowed to enter the kitchen and are neither allowed to worship as her impurity of menses will make the food as well as the god impure
  • If kissed during menstruation the female will conceive
  • Women are polluting and impure during their menses promotes the idea of women being inferior, useless, and a burden
  • The used period cloth should not be seen by anyone
  • Women should be confined to a room during menstruation so as to not spread the impurity
  • During periods body emits smell or ray which spoils preserved food and therefore women are not allowed to touch sour items (pickles etc.)
  • Menstrual blood is used in witchcraft and can lure men
  • Exercising during periods will make the body incapable of conceiving

Symptoms of PMS and PMDD may include

Self- Care Tips

Even after facing extreme mood swings and pains, the females are not given much rest and attention during their periods so here are some tips:

  • Eat right, drink right

Make sure to add proteins and healthy fats to your diet and avoid caffeinated drinks. Prepare a cup of hot water with honey in it; this will help relieve your pains, swelling, digestion, hydration, and hormone regulation, and don’t forget to lots of water!

  • Rest properly

Take good well-rested sleep. This may vary between 6- 8 hours according to your bodily needs.

  • Stay Active

Don’t let your fitness take a backseat. Exercise mildly, do yoga and meditation and it will do wonders for your body and hormones.

  • Keeping warm

The body needs to be comfortable especially at the time of menstruation. How to do so? Well, here is the solution! Make sure to take a warm water bath, hot shower, or use a heating pad to release the tension and soreness from your muscles. This will also help calm your nerves and reduction of cramps.

  • Find the right position

While sitting, lying, or sleeping you need to be relaxed and comfy so find the position that suits you and your body. It can vary from you being a starfish or being squished between pillows and comforter or even being in the fetal position. Choose your pick!

Lastly, there is nothing to be ashamed of! Menstruation is a natural process that actually defines the capability of the female body of being a mother. Without menstruation, none of us would have even be born. So, ladies however painful your periods are, tackle them head-on & believe me you can do it!

Menses is the monthly cycle

Without which we would not have been born

So, smile big and feel entitled

As an amazing jewel has been adorned

Self- Care Tips during periods

References-

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/285918466_Knowledge_and_Practices_Related_to_Menstruation_among_Tribal_Gujjar_Adolescent_Girls

https://timesofindia-indiatimes-com.cdn.ampproject.org/

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jeph/2018/1730964/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4408698/

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-981-15-0614-7_13#:~:text=’%20Menstrual%20taboos%20that%20deem%20women,control%20women%20and%20their%20sexuality.

Do View-

Social Anxiety Disorder (video)- https://buddingpsychologists.org/social-anxiety-disorder/

Anxiety Disorder (article)- https://buddingpsychologists.org/anxiety-disorder-2/

Thank You!

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Sushmitha Subramani

Well conceptualized and well iterated. Taboo persists till date. We must challenge these negative stereotypical thoughts and practices. This article is a good step in this direction. Well done.

Ishita dharwal

Really amazing article !

Leanne Rebelo

very well written! Encompassed a lot in a concise manner.

Nidhi Dahiya

Nice article with amazing concept. Keep writing.

Shramana Singha Roy

well written

Iarisa Nongbet

Really informative and well written on such a tabooed topic. Kudos!

Sneh Antil

Very well explained… Need of the hour