Periods are, in general, a difficult experience. The statistics, research and examples are all on the internet for those who’d wrangle.
From my observations, these are the reasons why periods are a hassle. This list isn’t conclusive, nor is it based on any numbers, but a first-hand account of what a woman has seen hitherto.
It isn’t debatable that there are countless myths about periods that seep down the generations. From labelling us impure to desisting us from playing sports, the ostracism and prejudice are endless. While I was fortunately away from all these impediments, I saw my friends going through sheer bias.
It can be said in a nutshell that it is due to not knowing what periods actually are. Had everyone known why periods occur and how they work, we wouldn’t have these freakish rules, right? Seriously, how can my uterine lining make the whole room impure?
Unfortunately, this isn’t limited to rural areas; I’ve seen period discrimination in urban, educated, well-to-do families.
In our house, when a girl gets her first period, she is given sweets made with jaggery to be eaten compulsorily alongside her daily diet. Also, a pickle that has jaggery is suggested. The reason could probably be that jaggery is a rich source of iron.
Hence, I wish traditions like these are abided by and not the uncanny ones. I’ve seen women eating the same quantity of food, or even lesser, during periods because of mood swings or loss of appetite. A balanced diet is crucial any day and this is taught in middle school.
Women should eat enough to combat fatigue and satisfy cravings, which isn’t often done either due to poverty or negligence. I say this because I’ve seen women so rigid on their fastings and diets that they wouldn’t eat anything despite being exhausted during periods.
The apathy towards PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is horrible. No matter how many researchers prove that period cramps are real and excruciating, our attitude remains sluggish. There are simple remedies, lifestyle changes, medicines, and of course, doctors to assist us with PMS.
Yet, we choose to push it under the carpet, conceal it under hushed whispers and belittle women who acknowledge period pain. What we face during PMS varies from others and so does the response. Just because we are strong, we don’t have to endure, nor can we expect anyone else to.
PMS and agonising periods are experienced universally at different levels. Hence, it becomes imperative that we stand by each other and not treat it as a competition of who can suffer more in silence. I don’t find any reason why we should pretend to be merry and perky while aunty uterus is punching us and our head feels like a boulder.
It is immensely sad but true that sanitary napkins aren’t always available. Like I’ve said, the statistics of how many women use sanitary napkins and what happens if we use cloth (not cloth pads that we buy, just cloth) or paper are just a click away.
It was the trouble to procure a sanitary napkin at a railway station that opened my eyes to the reality of menstruation. A lot of public places do not have hygienic washrooms with sanitary napkins supply.
These days, there are welcome changes with sanitary napkins being ordered online, railway and metro stations installing sanitary napkin vending machines, NGOs educating and helping rural women, etc. However, we have a long way to go.
As individuals, we should take steps at least in our vicinity to make sanitary napkins accessible. Hygienic sanitation is important irrespective of periods.