To all the people who are reading this, while having a glance through this article if you feel awkward or unpleasant irrespective of your gender, please do allot some of your valuable time to read this in precise.
We, the humans are struck with lot and lot of illogical taboos. 21st century India has seen a lot of drastic changes. We are planning for a voyage to Mars, education is easy, telecommunication is good but still deep down we still believe in myths and stupid stories. The mentality of most of us is quite conservative when it comes to considering menstruation as a taboo.
Let’s start from the first time a girl gets her period. While the first period is celebrated as a part of tradition, the consequent periods are abhorred. Talking about periods is seen as awkward, buying a sanitary napkin is an embarrassment (not just for women, even for men). One thing never gets old, it’s strictly forbidden for a bleeding woman to enter the temple. No matter what education we’ve had, we still refuse to see sense.
Where does all of this start? Why do we even consider buying a sanitary napkin as an embarrassment?
Let us consider a scenario.
There are two siblings: a sister and a brother. Sister hits puberty by the age of 11 (it is soon indeed, thanks to the adulterants in foods and milk). At the end of every month she grabs her stomach and sometimes yells in pain, she is confined to a solitary place. When this younger brother asks his mom what’s going on with his sister, this will be the most possible answer, “Nothing, she is having slight stomach ache.”
We, as whole, fail there to explain what menstruation is about. At that tender age, he won’t be able to get what we say, but still giving him a proper, non-falsified lesson is necessary, because the hesitation showed to that child may alter his entire thought on what’s menstruation. He will be forced to believe that his parents hesitated to explain him because it is something bad. This thought soon shifts into an embarrassment.
A 7-year-old child won’t understand what menstruation is. But a 7-year-old child could be molded just a way that he or she can have a clear idea about it in future. So when a child approaches and asks you something like that, explain to him or her with a smiling face. Explanation should be clear and understandable for their maturity level like the following one.
Every month, your sister’s body prepares to hold babies, like a bird prepares a nest. Most of the time, there is no baby, so your sister sheds her nest in order to make a new nest the coming month. Our (mother) nests are made of blood and flesh, and that’s is why there is blood. This blood is the reason why you are here. Since your sister utilises all her energy for the nest, she may feel tired.
Explanation is important, because whatever it may be, women empowerment, gender equality, sex education, it all begins there.
Even a grown woman could have an improper knowledge about periods. Tracking your period is way more important than most of the monthly chores. Dairy products should be avoided as they increase prostaglandins which make the uterus contract. More the uterus contracts, worse the cramps. Keeping the body warm may relieve the cramps. There are so many dos and don’ts to be followed during the process. Men should be made more aware of this. Even though you may never go through menstruation, it is necessary to know about certain things. For instance PMS.
Premenstrual syndrome – affects a women’s behaviour, emotions and physical health during certain days of the menstrual cycle. Levels of estrogen and progesterone increases during certain times of the months. This may cause mood swings, anxiety. This PMS thing isn’t a myth. So men, next time when she yells at you when she is on her period, just empathise. Period is painful but walking down with a body pain and mood swings is sure hell.
Now let’s talk about menstrual pads or tampons.
Seriously if you give me one million and insist me on starting a company, I will be surely starting a sanitary pad company, because that’s a golden goose. There is vast international marketing thriving and profiting from women who bleed. Over the course of history, many democratic governments treasury has been half filled by the tampon tax.
Have any of you seen a menstrual cup advertisement in your lifetime? A menstrual cup is comparably good, cheaper and environmentally safe when compared with tampons and pads but still, we have no clear-cut introduction to it. An ordinary sanitary pads pack consist of 20 pieces which costs around ₹300, while the single menstrual cup costs around ₹300 and can be used for a period of 2-3 years. So what if menstrual or diva cup comes into a complete circulation? Only once in three years, you will pay a tax for your menstruation, while in case of menstrual pads you may be paying it every month.
Menstrual cups are easy to insert (still pads are preferred for girls under 18 as it may be painful for some). They are non-toxic, reusable for period of 2-3 years but should be cleaned thoroughly after use. While the pads need to be frequently changed, diva cup can be left way longer than tampons or pads.
Pads or Cups, Menstrual hygiene is must.
And finally, let’s dismantle the myths and stupid stories about menstruation.
If pregnancy is all about life, then menstruation is nothing short of divinity. She bleeds so that you can walk over the face of the earth. Every period is a rebirth to create, nurture and transform.