‘I just don’t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die’
Menstruation is defined as the periodic emission of blood and mucosal tissue from the uterus of an individual. It is also referred to as Menorrhea. The time period during which it occurs is stated as Menses.
Every month, body prepares for pregnancy and if it doesn’t occur, the womb or uterus sheds it’s lining which results in normal vaginal bleeding which is half blood and half tissues.
Menarche is referred to as the first happening of menstruation ,it usually commence during the age of 10 to 16.
When the ovaries of an individual discontinue the production of oestrogen and progesterone naturally usually after the age of 45 is called as Menopause.
Menstruation doesn’t stop at bleeding it also includes
•Menstrual cramp pains and discomfort
•Lower back pain
•Mood swings and agitation
In some parts of the globe, menstruating people are considered as dirty ,untouchable or a disgrace. They are further mistreated ,stripped away from their basic rights and dignity.
According to a survey conducted by Clue, a period app along with international women’s health coalition there are around 5000 words for periods around the world ,this just exhibits that periods have largely been a taboo, source of humiliation and oppression.
What shocks the most is that periods are just a natural process occurring in more than half population of the world but it has an attached stigma to it which worsens the situation for the people experiencing periods. According to human rights council in 2014, menstrual health and equity are important factors in gender equality.
Some examples of mistreatments during periods include
•Exclusion from regular physical locations
•Confined alone is different spaces
•Forbidden or forced to bath
•Banned from touching or cooking food
•Dropping out of school due to menarche
•And so on.
MENSTRUATION ISN’T ALWAYS JUST A WOMAN’S ISSUE BUT A HUMAN ISSUE.
Women are not the only ones who go through menstruation. Moreover, not all the females who gets periods considers themselves as a woman. Transgender men might also experience menstruation, just as transgender women might not have periods.
THE MYTHS AND THE BUSTERS
Periods are something that are so prevalent yet it’s a topic people would shy away from and not discuss openly. This self imposed silence makes a room for a lot of myths and superstitions.
Period cramps are no big deal
No Uterus ,NO OPINION
Period cramp pains can be extremely painful and not something just like anything you have experienced. The pain makes you want to curl in bed and cry preceded by PMS and followed by these gut wrenching pains.
DYSMENORRHEA is a condition experienced by around 20% of the women characterized by painful menstruation which impacts and interferes with carrying out daily activities.
Hormones define woman
Hormonal is a term that is associated with menstruation for a very long time. There is a very real physical change in body during periods. The levels of oestrogen : hormone related to serotonin plummets and progesterone that causes fear and anxiety are increased. The impacts of hormones on mood are complicated, it happens on a monthly basis for us but doesn’t invalidate one’s feelings.
Period blood is dirty blood
As mentioned above period blood is partly blood (different from the blood that runs in our veins as it is less concentrated and few blood cells) and partly the lining shed from womb. It is not rejected body fluids but healthy evolved vaginal discharge.
You cannot get pregnant during your periods
Menstruation occurs as a result of your uterus preparing for a pregnancy and then shedding it’s lining in case of no pregnancy. There is a common myth that since during periods this lining is shedding one cannot get pregnant but it’s false.
A sperm can live in body for up to 5 days which implies that it can survive throughout your periods and then enter the body, thus possible to impregnate.
Avoid activities like sex or exercising
Exercise has proven to relieve pain during menstruating and helps feel more energised. Engaging in sexual activities will help by releasing pleasurable hormones like dopamine and oxytocin which helps in the betterment of the mood.
LACK OF ACCESS
Many individuals around the world approximately 12.8% do not have access to menstrual hygiene and products because of either poverty or stigma and myths regarding periods.
The cost of menstrual hygiene products (added taxes) leaves people who menstruate with little or no options to purchase products and forced to use it’s unhealthy alternatives like:
- Cloth strips
- Plastic bags
1.25 billion approximately do not have access to a safe , private toilet and 526 million approximately don’t have ANY toilet.
Period shaming, poverty , discrimination impact individuals physical and mental well being.
Fear of stigmatization along with limited access to menstrual hygiene supplies, water, disposal facilities and private ,clean bathrooms negatively impact school attendance and performance. Forcing individuals to drop out and into child marriage.
Policies that perpetuate stigmas , poor workplace conditions, and unsupportive labour laws can impact women’s economic opportunities
WHAT WE CAN DO???
1.Affordable and tax free sustainable products
2.Wider access to menstrual hygiene management and sanitation facilities
3.Better workplace policies inclusive of menstruating and menopausal women
4.Increased awareness of and about menstruation to help break free taboo and stigma surrounding periods
5. Period friendly schools encouraging them to educate students about periods
6.DONATE MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS LIKE SANITARY NAPKINS, TAMPONS, MENSTRUAL CUPS. (nothing as funny as the myth people thinking that use of tampon can break one’s hymen and that person is no longer a virgin)
7.Partner with companies to make menstrual products available.
It’ll be Just the beginning ,if we change our thoughts about periods being gross, shameful or dirty, then menstruation wouldn’t be a humanitarian crises. But we have a long history of embarrassment to overcome , it is so internalized in our behavior that being put on blast for having our period doesn’t help.
We shouldn’t feel that we need to hide our pads or tampons in black bags or whisper about them. Periods aren’t something out of the normal, and neither is talking regarding them. Let’s do our half to alter this cycle and ditch the stigma.