‘Period. End of Sentence.’, a documentary on menstruation in India wins an Oscar. Sadly, menstruation remains one of the biggest ‘taboo’ in our country. There are a hell lot of myths and superstitions surrounding menstruation which actually is a natural biological phenomenon.
Owing to society and culture, females esp. in rural areas find it embarrassing to talk about periods even to other females and an absolute shame to talk about it to males. This attitude has resulted in ignorance about menstrual health and hygiene in the society. For generations, women in rural areas and countless more didn’t have access to sanitary napkins and many still don’t have. Close to 70% of women risk their lives by not talking about periods and related problems due to ignorance and shame attached to it. Many girls are forced to opt-out of schools when they start menstruating.
I myself had the first-hand experience of this problem of myths surrounding menstruation. My mum would never allow me to wash my hair on the first two days of my periods, I have friends who aren’t allowed to enter the kitchen while menstruating, some aren’t allowed to eat pickles and the list is long.
Cultural and social influences appear to be a hurdle for the advancement of knowledge on the subject. However, there have been various efforts on the part of people and the government to educate people about menstruation and to provide access to low-cost sanitary pads. I have come across females who have access to sanitary pads but won’t use them due to a lack of awareness about menstrual hygiene and the risks involved. Myths about periods are bizarre as well as widespread and need to be debunked.
A) Period Blood IS Dirty Blood.
The blood that comes out of your vagina is just as dirty as the blood that comes out of other parts in case of an injury. There is nothing dirty about it. It’s more of a mix of uterine tissue, mucous lining, bacteria, and few blood cells.
B) You Shouldn’t Exercise Or Practice Sports While You Have Period.
Physical exercise can actually prove beneficial during your periods. In fact, regular physical activity helps to reduce menstrual pain, relieve bloating and alleviate PMS.
C) Period Pain Is Just A Drama.
The pain some of them might get during a period is real. This condition even has a medical name: Dysmenorrhea. In fact, around 20% of women have dysmenorrhea that’s severe enough to interfere with their daily activities.
D) PMSing Is Just Attention Seeking.
During PMS, levels of estrogen which are related to happy hormone dips and level of progesterone sharply increase. Progesterone is linked to that part of the brain that causes fear, anxiety, and depression. It is actual hormonal change and not just mood swings.
E) Periods Are Shameful.
Periods are nothing to ssh.. about rather a regular healthy menstrual cycle is a symbol of healthy reproductive health. These are as natural a phenomenon as breathing. There is nothing to feel embarrassed about. This is high time to stop believing and become aware of menstrual hygiene and health.
F) You Can’t Wash Your Hairs Or Can’t Bathe While Menstruating.
Bathing with warm water can actually help in relieving menstrual cramps and is relaxing too. And yes, it wouldn’t lead to infertility.
G) Don’t Eat Curd Or Pickles.
There is no scientific backing behind such beliefs. In fact, doctors recommend curd or buttermilk during periods as well as pregnancy. It helps in relaxing the muscles apart from other health benefits.