Too often we ignore the facts that stare us blank in the face; where no open dialogue is being created about the topic that affects millions of women everyday. The uncomfortable yet painful feeling circulating below our abdomens but it’s viewed as the most natural functions of the human body: Menstruation.
I can hear the cringe in some peoples’ voices and I can’t see why this is an uncomfortable subject for many, particularly the male species. It seems as though society has brainwashed us into thinking that we should be ashamed of uttering the word ‘period’ and that we meant to keep it to ourselves. Menstruation is nothing new and it happens each month lasting between 3 to 7 days. However, I have come across that some women experience it for more than the average days.
Mine in question, is irregular so I can expect my monthly visits at any given time and often I end up embarrassing myself. For a very long time, make that years, I felt the need to bow my head down in shame whenever an accident occurred; where people will stare at the red mark stained on my pants and turn their heads in embarrassment when my period is part of the process that will one day bring new life into the world. On many occasions, I would have to hide my sanitary towel inside my bra or slip it into my pocket to hide this taboo from my male counterparts.
I came across this survey indicating that whether women living in the Western or Eastern side of the world, speaking about your menstruation in front of male family, colleagues or friends is shameful and therefore makes it difficult for young girls to be educated properly about menstruation. They get a sense that something is wrong with their bodies because there’s little to none education on the topic. And it’s not only in third world countries but in developed ones too, where speaking openly about periods is a sign of weakness and makes it more challenging for women to advocate on the health issues surrounding the stigma.
The pain is far to often unbearable and I remember one guy telling me to just suck it up. My discomfort is every other woman’s’ discomfort and so is my pain. I jack myself with various painkillers to subside the piercing agony exploding in the lining of my uterus. It is so bad that I’m unable to stand nor sit, either resulting in throbbing headaches and nausea. I remember it being so bad I was rushed to hospital and having to be on a drip for three days with no explanation. But I’m lucky. I have the resources at my fingertips where tampons and sanitary pads are at my disposable yet to a young child or woman, riddled in poverty and with virtually no resources nearby, they being shamed in their community. They getting sick by various health infections or drop out of school because they have fallen behind..
This is why I wholeheartedly support Dignity Dreams (NGO), who helps underprivileged South African women and girls meet their personal hygiene requirements as well as Subz Pads by Sue Barnes, who designed washable sanitary pads and panties for the under privileged girls. Please get in touch and help a child with completing their education and let’s not allow another young girl to fall behind on their education because she doesn’t have a sanitary towel. Let’s empower and encourage one another on the stigmas surrounding periods and start creating open and interactive platforms where we as women can discuss the everyday struggle of being a menstruated woman.
Until our next coffee date.