Talking about periods is taboo in our society.
A girl would have heard at some point in her life “Oh look! Api aap k lia diapers!”, she would have felt embarrassed for sure and maybe less due to having periods.
In our society, the discussion around the female body is always considered ‘waahiyat’ and ‘fahaash’.
“Shhhhh! We are not supposed to say it loud”, a teenage girl tells her friend.
And because of this taboo, perhaps so many girls are conditioned to feel less or ashamed for having periods.
In some Indian communities, for example, women aren’t allowed to enter the kitchen or cook while menstruating. It’s believed that their menstruating will cause the food to go bad in some way.
This shaming prevents women and girls from accessing the right information they need to maintain good menstruation hygiene.
Let’s explore 8 reasons why you (if you’re a girl) or a woman shouldn’t feel ashamed about their periods and what to do about it.
Before we talk, let’s pause for just a second. If you or a loved one is having irregular periods, pelvic pain, then you’ll probably find great help talking to a gynaecologist via video consultation or direct appointment.
Reasons to not feel ashamed for your periods
1. Periods are natural, and you’re not weird to have them
About half of the seven billion people who exist in the world have experienced or will experience menstruation at some point in their lives. Throughout history, women have experienced. You’re not alone, you aren’t weird to have them.
It’s a normal biological process that’s essential in the bigger picture for continual of mankind.
2. It’s okay to not know how your body works
Many women don’t know or fully understand how their reproductive system function. Since from an early age, girls aren’t conditioned that talking about periods is taboo, the same girls when they become women don’t know what happens in their body.
It’s okay if you don’t know how your body functions. Acknowledge it.
3. Men should know about periods too
Most men in our society are completely unaware when it comes to periods. Usually, men feel embarrassed too talking about periods due to social conditioning. “Huh”, “ummmm”, they would respond.
This creates a self-perpetuating cycle in which women feel ashamed for having periods, they don’t talk about it. Men feel reluctant as well. Both genders don’t educate themselves, and discussions never happen.
And this leads to both genders frowning whenever periods are mentioned. A sense of shame is felt by both genders whenever initiating discussion.
4. It’s a disguised blessing
Periods can be a good indicator of your health. Since periods are affected by stress, diet, diabetes and many other things. So if you are having irregular periods it might be a sign your body isn’t functioning properly and you need to see a gynaecologist perhaps.
5. It’s a sign of non-pregnancy, congratulations!
Getting a period means you’re not pregnant. Your body telling you, ‘hey, congratulations, you didn’t get pregnant’. If you’re married and sexually active, your period can be a good sign that you’re not pregnant.
Even if you’re trying to get pregnant, having regular period can indicate you’re ovulating and hence you should continue your effort to become pregnant. In many cases, infertility is due to irregular ovulation, so your period is a good sign.
6. Your periods don’t invalidate you
“It must be her time of month “, sometimes a woman gets to hear. This blaming and shaming of women’s behaviour on menstruation only undermines them and makes them feel lesser for having periods.
If you are menstruating or not, and get the blame for your behaviour on your periods, know these remarks by others meaningless. Such remarks or having periods don’t define your self-worth.
7. You shouldn’t be ashamed of your body
Ignore if other people have a negative attitude toward menstruation implying it’s yucky, impure, dirty. Don’t let anyone tell you’re unfit certain activities and environments. If you maintain good menstruation hygiene you’re good for anything anywhere.
There’s nothing innately wrong with being female. You’re beautiful the way you are. Be proud of being a woman/girl.
8. So many women don’t have access to good menstrual hygiene
Period shaming has created a culture in which periods are seen as unmentionable, and non-legitimate health concern.
According to Plan, “only 12% of girls and women have access to sanitary products around the world.” So many women use dirty rags and other unsanitary materials when menstruating, which can cause infections and other complications.
In Pakistan, according to UNICEF report has warned that in some cases information about menstruation has been intentionally withheld from reaching as an act of “means of protecting their chastity”. This leads to a negative impact on their physical and emotional health.
According to a 2017 UNICEF survey, 50% of young Pakistani women had no knowledge of menstruation before their periods started. About 28% of women reported that they had missed school or work because of stomach pain or worry over staining their clothes.
Educating yourself about your menstruation and maintaining good menstruation hygiene
is one of the ways to fight this shame. Change is important, with one woman at a time.
Actions to take (solution)
Own your body and its all processes
Accept your body, periods, and have no shame about them. Your periods aren’t source of shame ever, it’s only the people’s opinions.
Help yourself and others understand periods better
Educate yourself and others about periods. Next time someone mentions ‘periods’ or you want to talk about it, feel the reluctance and go through it talking about it. Approach it as a learner and educator.
Treat menstruation like it’s everyone’s problem
It’s not just about you, it’s bigger than you. You are part of the macrocosm, our society and its well being depends on your well-being.
When Arunachalam Muruganantham saw that his wife was using dirty clothes to manage menstruation, he felt it a problem all women faced and decided to do something about it. He saw it as a problem not just of his wife but the whole society’s well being.
He went out and invented affordable sanitary pads which are helping women across India.
Realize your well-being is ultimately linked to our society’s well being, so educate yourself and maintain good menstruation hygiene.
Periods aren’t just a women’s issue, it’s the concern of our whole communities since ultimately it’s a matter of public health. No girl fakes her period, it’s natural. Period!
If there’s something unusual about periods (irregular periods) or maybe you’re confused about your menstruation hygiene, get help by talking to a gynaecologist via video consultation or appointment.
We as a society need to break this taboo.
Women need to help women to educate themselves about their bodies.
We need to understand the importance of menstrual hygiene.
Next time someone tells you “it’s behuda” to talk about the period. Ask them to research or spill facts over them.
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