This is one such topic I would usually avoid or hesitate to talk or discuss in public, but sometimes matters of such sort become so grave and can impact directly on someone’s life that they need to be addresses by hook or by crook.
Recently I was invited over to a session by a friend who works as a product manager at Hilton Pharma here in Karachi; this session was in regards to the World Menstrual Hygiene day being celebrated across a number of countries or probably all. The session was named, #AgahiZaruriHai [Awareness is necessary] targeted towards changing those mindsets who think discussing such topics is a taboo and these are not to be addressed openly because they violate certain social rules.
A large number of women would avoid talking about the issues and problems they face during their menstrual cycle; rather as per UNICEF global study, one out of every 10 girls will not attend school during her cycle. The case in Pakistan is a bit more intense as nearly 50% of the girls are found absent from schools during their cycle, mainly because they aren’t aware of how to handle menstruation properly or they are made fun of by the opposite gender or probably because of the underlying false assumption of a woman being impure during this process.
These myths and its likes are the very reason, I decided to be a part of this “considered-shameful” topic and talk about it openly in a large group. This group included males too.. yes males, educated progressive minded males who wouldn’t giggle in a corner over discussion on such an intimate matter but rather understand the concern and assist the current and potential women in their lives in times of need.
People assume things about menstruation as per what they have been told by their mothers or elders in the house, keeping aside some not all of them have any medical standing and need to be addressed to avoid misconception. For this, we had over two very renowned names from the obstetric field, Dr. Uzma Imran (Australian Fertility Concept & Agha Khan) & Dr. JehanAra (DOW Hospital) to give basic info and bust the myths related to menstruation.
Briefing out the whole discussion in points…
* First of all, it’s highly important for our mothers to talk about this phenomenon with their daughters BEFORE they start getting their period, and it’s completely okay to do so. There should be nothing shameful or scary about it rather it would prepare them in advance and save them from any embarrassment of getting it suddenly when they are out of home unbeknown of how to handle the situation and fear they have caught a disease or so
* Women during this phenomenon are NOT Impure for God’s sake!
It’s just a cycle that starts and finishes. Not that it contaminates any thing or anybody with touch. Yes, indeed as per Islamic teachings, a woman must not pray Salah or fast but doesn’t mean she can’t recite verses or pray silently within.
There are families that forcibly seclude the girls while they menstruate or restrict their diets and limit their movement.
And NO, her touch won’t turn milk into yogurt or rotten the vinegars in your home!… funny right? Yeah people still believe in this crap
* it’s super important for the lady to maintain her cleanliness at all times, specially during the phenomenon. Bathing may have a slight impact on the blood flow but this is from person to person and has no medical evidence in support. In certain cases, girls are also curtailed within the house during these times because they don’t shower through out thinking it will pause the flow and aren’t aware of sanitary napkins or other items to contain it. Just because the elder women of the house don’t talk to their young ones about it, they are left stranded and feel ashamed when someone from the outside talks about it with them. A lot of schools have had educational drives where teams went to educate girls on menstruation and it’s handling, but they were bashed for spreading vulgarity and talking shameless stuff not realizing that it’s an integral part of a woman’s life and she has the primary right to know what her body is going to undergo.
* it’s normal to have a blood flow within 8 to 800cc but if it’s anything less or more than the limit, it must be reported to the doctors instantly since it’s really common for young unmarried girls these days to develop polyps or cysts in their ovaries due to our unhealthy diets and if these are left undiagnosed, it could grow into larger fibroids or serious ovarian cancer, cause immense pain and in some cases become lethal too.
The percentage of ovarian cancer is quite high in our females because of the shame they feel in discussing such matters. Families don’t tend to these issues and they aggravate to grow monstrously large causing harm to the patients health.
* If a woman is complaining of unnecessary deep pain during her periods, please don’t think of it as normal, it’s probably because of a developing cyst or could be any other irregularity for that matter hence please don’t take such situations lightly.
* Regular exercise and movement is fine during this time unlike the way some people think that one must rest and not move at all. Rather agility keeps the body warm and the blood flow normal, unless ones condition is such that mobility seems difficult and burdensome, then obviously rest is important otherwise it’s perfectly normal to attend work and complete daily tasks instead of calling a day off just like that.
These points were brilliantly discussed in detail and a lot of questions answers were exchanged during the session, moreover it helped a lot of women, including myself, unwind with the hovering questions and talk to the doctors there and then to clarify it.
Understanding a woman’s emotions as she undergoes menstruation, it’s handling and hygiene management holds great importance. We are blessed to be part of educated families where we were taught about the process and implications beforehand however, this education needs to be promoted and taught in smaller cities or rural areas where it’s considered a huge taboo.
I’d appreciate if all you beautiful, educated and socially aware ladies could help spread information about menstruation and it’s processes and implications in your surrounding