Have you ever:
- Felt embarassed simply because you were on your period?
- Hid a pad in public while going to the restroom to change?
- Slowly opened your pad in public because you're afraid to make noises?
- Avoided using the word "menstruation" and had to refer to it as "aunt flo", "mother nature", and "time of the month?
Well.. you're not alone. 870 other women have too.
According to MenstrualHygieneDay.Org, "Of 1,500 women, 58% of them have felt a sense of embarrassment simply because they were on their period."
It is a very sad reality especially when menstruation is a natural process for a lot of women. It's the mark of puberty, fertility and femininity, yet it is often shrouded in shame and secrecy. In some cultures, women are confined to their homes or even banned from religious ceremonies while they are menstruating. This is because periods were seen as unclean and dirty.
As a result, many girls grow up feeling ashamed of their bodies and their periods. Most girls are embarassed to communicate or ask someone for help or advice once they get their cycle. Not having a support system while going through a big physical change can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can have a negative impact on a woman's overall health.
Sadly, there's also a lack of education when it comes to menstruation. According to UNESCO, just in India, "71% of adolescent girls remain unaware of menstruation till they get their first period."
In order to overcome period shaming, it is important for women to talk about their experiences with friends and family, as this can help break down the barriers of silence and shame. This will empower children to ask about their cycle and explore period products that would make their cycle manageable.
And we should not only educate women, according LifeSciences, "Eyring and Magnusson created a 15-minute Qualtrics survey and the results showed that men who have fathers present in their household tend to have more negative attitudes towards menstruation. Eyring says that father figures have an integral role in their family’s attitudes towards menstruation and women’s health. Parents who have negative attitudes about sensitive topics tend to perpetuate their beliefs through their children."
Fathers and brothers should be educated on how they can further understand and aid their family members who experience menstruation. When girls are taught about menstruation in a positive and open manner, they are more likely to have a healthy relationship with their bodies. By destigmatizing menstruation, we can create a more supportive and inclusive world for women.
Let us work on breaking down the barriers to empower girls and women to embrace their bodies and their menstrual cycles. Let us talk about our cycle and destigmatize women’s health issues.