The Importance of Menstruation

First off, let’s address what menstruation is. According to an article by MedicineNet, “Menstruation is bleeding from the vagina that happens about once a month, as a normal part of the menstrual cycle. It is also known as having a period. During this cycle, your hormones make the lining of the uterus become thicker, getting ready in case of pregnancy. Hormones also cause an egg to be released from an ovary, which is known as ovulation. If you don’t become pregnant, your periods start about two weeks after you ovulate. The lining of the uterus falls away and, along with some blood, flows out through the vagina. Periods can be light or heavy, and the blood can range from bright red to dark brown. You might also notice small clots.”

Menstruation is a shared experience among all females. The average age for a girl to get her first period in the US is 12, but the range of age is about 8 to 15 years old. Women usually have periods until about ages 45 to 55. Females everywhere understand what it is like to get their first period, and most females experience similar symptoms. Beside the bleeding, other signs and symptoms of menstruation may include headacheacnebloating, pains in the low abdomen, tirednessmood changes, food cravings, breast soreness, and diarrhea. Yet this universal female experience—menstruation—is a widely stigmatized issue. It is a topic that people are usually uncomfortable talking about, and it is typically a topic that is only discussed behind closed doors. This is because cultures all over the world have developed detrimental concepts and beliefs about menstruation.

For example, in Venezuela, many women are forced to sleep in huts for the duration of their menstruation. In rural Ghana, menstruating women are forbidden from entering a house with a man or cooking food. Many young women don’t have access to any type of sanitary pad, which can cause them to miss school and cause them to be 70% more likely to have reproductive tract infections. Another amazing example is the 2019 Oscar Best Documentary Short winner, Period. End Of Sentence., a Netflix documentary on the menstruation taboo in rural India. The story is set in the Kathokhera village in India, where a local group of women is using a newly-installed machine to make and sell sanitary pads, raising awareness, and fighting the stigma that surrounds menstruation in the local community. The film, which was created by Oakwood High School students who also founded a nonprofit organization called The Pad Project, aims to fight the stigma of menstruation, starting in a rural village outside of Delhi, India. For decades, the women there didn’t have access to pads, which resulted in health problems and girls missing school or dropping out entirely. But when a sanitary pad machine is installed in the village, the women learned to manufacture and market their own pads. The ladies felt so inspired that they name their brand Fly because they want women “to soar.”

The stigma that surrounds menstruation needs to seriously be debunked. Menstruation is an incredibly helpful process. Women are very observant when it comes to their body, and the menstrual blood’s color, duration, and odor can offer hints of your medical condition. Some women experience having heavy menstrual flow or having no period at all for a long time which indicates that there is something wrong with your body, helping you be aware of such changes. Your cycle stops when you have a heart disease, diabetes, or other reproductive health related problems. Being a woman helps you become more conscious of your health. Having a period is also a cleanser for the female body, and although you may not enjoy the cramps at first by the end of your period cycle there is a certain glow to you. Your mood is positive, there is a jump in your step. Through increasing education, promoting female empowerment, providing expanded resources, and encouraging candid conversations surrounding women’s health, menstruation may one day no longer be a taboo but will be celebrated for the natural experience that it is.

Sources

  • Davis, Dr. Charles Patrick. “Menstrual Period Definition, Symptoms, and Pain Relief.” MedicineNet, 12 Dec. 2018, www.medicinenet.com/menstruation/article.htm.
  • GOLDSTEIN , JOELLE. “Documentary About Menstruation Wins Oscar: 'I'm Not Crying Because I'm on My Period'.” PEOPLE.com, Time Inc, 24 Feb. 2019, people.com/movies/oscars-2019-menstruation-documentary-wins-oscar-not-crying-period/.
  • Janelle, Teya. “The 5 Most Essential Benefits Of Your Period.” Anigan, 19 Jan. 2017, www.anigan.com/blogs/blog-posts/most-essential-benefits-of-your-period.
  • Litman, Jill. “Menstruation Stigma Must Stop. Period.” The Public Health Advocate, The Public Health Advocate, 8 June 2018, pha.berkeley.edu/2018/06/05/menstruation-stigma-must-stop-period/.
  • Pictures: 1, 2, 3, 4