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How Do I Deal With My Periods During The Pandemic?

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This post is a part of Periodपाठ, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC to highlight the need for better menstrual hygiene management in India. Click here to find out more.

In this article, we will discuss mental health during the pandemic, access to sanitary products and home remedies for cramps, and other period trauma.

What If Sanitary Products Become Unavailable?

sanitary pads in the market
You can browse online websites like Big Basket and Amazon for sanitary products. Representational image.

With the sudden lockdown that was imposed in India, how do you access sanitary pads? As of today, some manufacturers of period supplies report their supply chains are still producing and delivering at normal speed. It’s unlikely but not impossible that if people panic more, tampons and pads might suddenly disappear from the shelves. Myna Mahila Foundation is one such organization that is still manufacturing low-cost pads at its centers.

You can browse online websites like Big Basket and Amazon for sanitary products. They can easily bring sanitary products to your doorstep, be it menstrual cups, sanitary napkins, tampons, etc. Many people are still unaware of this as sanitary products are *NOT GOOD FOR SALE*.

Dealing With Anxiety During The Pandemic

Dealing with a viral outbreak that we have never seen before, plus being isolated at home is leaving a lot of people feeling down. If you’re feeling anxious and uncertain, know that your feelings are totally normal and valid. Anxiety can cause stress and stress can delay your period. Symptoms/signs can be in the form of mood swings, body aches, cramps, etc. Not only can the above cause you irritation but also make people around you uncomfortable.

woman with her hands in her face, stressed, anxious, worried
Anxiety can cause stress and stress can delay your period. Image for representation purposes only.

“Anxiety”, a term with which the younger generation is very familiar, can definitely worsen during the quarantine. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 1 in 3 of ‘young people’ suffer from anxiety on a daily basis. And now during the pandemic, with quarantining, the youth is unable to socialize, for obvious reasons, but it is more serious than it sounds.

It is especially bad for those who live alone. Not meeting people for weeks is a struggle. Stress can impact both mental and physical health. Some folks with underlying anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are feeling triggered right now. If you’re feeling mentally impacted by the Corona-Virus news, the best thing to do is to focus on yourself and practice some self-care.

Scrolling through your news feed, you may find everyone posting pictures of the new painting they finished, a certificate of completion of a course on Edx or Coursera, a new dish they made, etc. Looking at all these things can sometimes make you feel low. This lockdown made us adapt to a completely new lifestyle, the one you never expected to see ourselves in.

It’s completely normal if you do not feel like doing anything productive- such as learning a new skill, improving your grades, etc. During this lockdown, make sure your thoughts do not take over you and try to have a positive notation about the present situation. It’s very important to take care of yourself during this time.

 Here are some ways you can do so:

  • Revisit an old hobby.
  • Fix some things around the house.
  • Find an indoor workout routine that you enjoy.
  • Monitor your media intake.

Alternatives To Sanitary Napkins

 When there is no other option, we can look at what people who menstruate do with limited resources. When menstrual products aren’t available, many people use a small cloth or tissue paper. A cotton sock may be thin enough to be worn comfortably in underwear. Everyone who menstruates has had to improvise at some point!

Menstrual cramps definitely can make you feel uncomfortable during your periods. Here are some home remedies to deal with menstrual cramps during this pandemic without you stepping out of the house:

Natural remedies for menstrual cramps. Image for representational purposes only.
  • Basil leaves (Tulsi) is a divine herb used in many ayurvedic medicines. Boil a bunch of the leaves in water and steep it for 5 minutes. Strain it into a glass and add a teaspoon of honey. Drink this regularly every day for a couple of weeks.
  • Cinnamon is a spice commonly used in Indian cuisines. Boil 2 teaspoons of cinnamon in water. Steep it for 10 minutes, strain, and add a teaspoon of honey. Drink it daily for a couple of weeks.
  • Sesame oil can be used to massage your lower abdomen while menstruating to reduce the pain.
  • Drinking hot fluids and taking a shower in hot water can also help in reducing the pain.

During this lockdown, we need to ensure that we dispose of the sanitary napkins in a very hygienic way. Make sure you wrap the used napkins in a newspaper before throwing them in a bin. Wash your hands with soap and warm water after disposing of it. Do not flush the used sanitary napkins in a toilet, as this can cause the blockage of the sewer. It can also pollute streams and rivers, cause hormonal changes in the wildlife, and enable harmful organisms to enter the food chain.

During this lockdown, we are also supposed to make note that we can be asymptomatic carriers of the COVID-19 virus, therefore proper disposal of the napkins can be one of the measures we can do to prevent the spread of the virus.

 During this pandemic even though we are virtually surrounded by everyone, you may feel lonely. Remember, that we’re all in this together!

The article has been written by Himasutha Reddy and Pooja Shah.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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