I had been working in Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh. I used to conduct science programs in schools to engage kids. I would interact with women meanwhile. I conducted a survey about menstrual health and wellness. This survey helped me to know about the taboo and problems women faced. These are a few findings:
1. 65% were using and comfortable about branded sanitary napkins. They found these pads cheaper and easier to use.
2. Women were kept in isolated rooms during periods and not allowed to touch food, utensils, newborns, handpumps etc.
3. During one session with a few women, I showed them a clear diagram of the reproductive system. As I expected, women were not able to relate to any part, function. They were not familiar with this diagram.
It didn’t come as a surprise. It is normal as we talk about heart, lungs, brain etc. and problems associated with these. We have never been comfortable talking about uterus, periods, ovaries and problems associated with.
Menstruation has never been a part of our discussions and learning. We love talking about health, career, dreams etc. with our friends, doctors etc.
It’s a reason for our existence but never a part of our discussion. We need to talk about periods without hesitation. It is just as normal as sleeping, eating etc. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It is just as normal as breathing for survival. We need to speak about function, discomfort and diseases.
Cervical cancer is a very common type of cancer among women. Out of women younger than 40 years of age, 78% cervical cancer cases were diagnosed in women aged 30 to 39 years and 21% of cervical cancer cases were diagnosed in women aged 20 to 29 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One percent occur in women under 20 years of age.
We need to spread awareness about our body parts and functions of body organs. It is time to teach them about health. Menstrual health is not only about women. It’s about survival.
We need to teach about it in a friendly way. It should come as a part of our health. People must know about pain, blood stains, discomfort, aches, and hygiene.