Not many people – even the educated urban folk know about menstruation and what women go through. As the social media posts photos with sanitary pads and talks about menstruation, let’s understand what it means.
“Ouch!” She screamed in pain and placed her hands on her abdomen. Her body felt like it was fighting a war; she believed it was when she saw all the blood. Thus, she felt weak and hopeless as all the hormones of her body bred chaos in her body. The dreaded word came into her mind; menstruation.
She hated those five days of the month. Her mother, a woman herself, was responsible for her hatred towards periods since childhood. She was asked to eat in a different plate, wash her own clothes and utensils and not to touch anywhere in the house – she was to stay confined in her own bedroom till the ‘sin’ wasn’t over. She wept in pain, helpless and dejected by the society. Suddenly she was ‘impure’, ‘dirty’ and ‘unwanted’. ‘She’ is an Indian woman of the 21st century.
Not only in rural households but also in urban ones, periods are looked down upon in the name of tradition. Women who are menstruating aren’t allowed to worship ‘God’. It is ironic because the same people who forbid women are those who believe that ‘God’ created humans and everything that happened to humans is ‘his’ will. If periods are ‘his’ will then how would ‘he’ not want the woman to enter the temple?
One possible explanation for the reason why women didn’t touch things and only rested in their rooms during the ancient times is because they were subject to a lot of physical hard work without any recreation or break back then. As the body needs rest during menstruation it is possible that the tradition had its roots in this belief. But now it is a completely different era and this has become a reason for pain, humiliation and rejection rather than a reason for care and concern. One should know that if women did not menstruate, the world will perish. Menstruation is the pre-requisite for reproduction.
It is very important to understand the reproductive system before making judgements about menstruation and the same is explained below in layman’s language. The blood that comes out of a woman’s vagina isn’t ‘bad blood’. It is the same blood as any human would have after wounding themselves.
The reproductive system of the woman consists broadly of the uterus, the ovaries and the fallopian tubes. The two ovaries (working alternately every month) release an ‘egg’ or the ‘ovum’ (the process of ovulation) which reaches the uterus through the fallopian tubes. The uterus is the place where the embryo is formed (an embryo later forms the foetus and then on birth becomes an infant or a child). The embryo is formed when a male sperm and a female ovum fertilize or fuse. The thus formed embryo fixes itself into the wall of the uterus to gain nourishment. However, when there an absence of the male sperm, the ovum does not attach itself to the uterine wall and as a result, the wall sheds – every month. The shedding of the uterine wall is termed as menstruation – that is the cause of the blood.
This is what is taught in basic science textbooks when children study in schools. It is a purely scientific process without which most people who consider periods as a taboo wouldn’t have been born!
There is nothing to be ashamed of – in fact, all women must be proud of those five days a month (five days a month is just a phrase used as people are shy to say periods – the days vary from woman to woman, it could be two days for some and seven for others).
The duration of menstruation is three to seven days generally. In some cases, it may exceed or be less than the specified number of days. The cycle of a woman can range from twenty-seven days to thirty-six days, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an exact month.
Your periods may get delayed due to various psychological and physiological factors such as ovarian cysts, fibroids, stress etc. Should you skip your periods for more than two times, please consult a gynaecologist. You may also skip your periods due to pregnancy and the same can be affirmed or denied through various tests (with some urine tests available in all medical stores which are not cent percent reliable).
It is advisable to keep track of your periods. You could note down the date you start menstruating, the end date and the symptoms. Additionally, you could also note down what made you feel better during those days. There are a wide range of applications available for mobile phones on various platforms. Browse through.
Some women, choose to take a pill to delay their periods intentionally for various reasons such as functions, excursions and sports-related activities. These are usually Norethisterone tablets. Do not self-medicate. Always take the advice of your doctor and only then take these medicines. Prolonged use of such medicines can be harmful to health as it changes the balance of hormones.
Educate yourself about the science behind menstruation, rather than suffering in silence. You are not to be ashamed of yourself.