Menstruation : Myths And Misunderstandings

In many parts of our society, people actually take pride in believing and inculcating myths around menstruation rather than shunning them.

“Those days”, “Monthly”, “Not clean days” or simply “Period” and “Menstruation”. One system and many names, based on the- beliefs, of course!

Menstruation is the regular discharge of blood and mucosal tissue from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina. The first period usually begins between twelve and fifteen years of age, a point in time known as menarche. Up to 80% of women report having some symptoms prior to menstruation. Common signs and symptoms include acne, tender breasts, bloating, feeling tired, irritability, and mood changes.

Menstruation is an important part of the female reproductive cycle, a normal process, and definitely not a “curse”. It has nothing to do with your yearly ‘pickles’ turning rotten if a menstruating woman touches them”.

Unhygienic sanitary practices during the period are dangerous, not the menstruating woman.

In earlier days, there wasn’t enough knowledge and awareness about menstruation. No sanitary napkins were invented. No hygiene was considered. No facilities were provided to the menstruating women. So at that time, our ancestors made some traditions or you can call them rules, like, women could not do hard work, they could not cook, they would sit in one corner of the room and food would be served to them. Taking a pain killer was out of the question, so to provide menstruating women with rest, these rules were made.

Humans are fast at advancing life and lifestyles. And for this, they can easily accept changes. So with this behaviour, we have changed the perception or belief about menstruation.

With the first period of a girl’s life, her mother tells her how lucky she is. She is capable of becoming a mother one day. She is capable of producing a human being. But that girl, who has no idea about what has just happened to her body. Honestly, she is either confused or scared. She is learning to use pads (if lucky enough! It takes another article!). She is learning to walk, sit and sleep in these pads. She is trying to handle the cramps and aches. She is learning to hide the packets of the pad from the rest of the family; she even has to learn how to discard the used pads safely.

Now, if all this wasn’t enough, she is also made to go through a whole lot of restrictions. She is told that she is not allowed in the kitchen during ‘those days’. ‘Period‘, the name she was just told, has suddenly changed its definition. She is banned in the kitchen, where she was taught she belongs. She can’t even take a glass of water on her own. She is given an old piece of cloth and supposed to sit in a corner of a room where she will get a plate of food and water. This will continue for three or more days.

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I am not exaggerating. I have heard these examples from so many friends. But with the changing time and progressive mindsets, we have many people who have influenced these perceptions through their articles or speeches. Even women are actively involved in breaking the taboo around periods. People are willing to spread awareness on subjects like menstruation and use of sanitary napkins. The subject which is still considered a ‘hush-hush’ matter in many parts of the society is now being discussed openly. Honestly, I am happy about it.

A few days back, I was involved in publishing an interview with Mr Arunachalam Muruganantham who had developed the low-cost sanitary napkin making machine.

In the time of such revolutionary steps, one day, some words fell on my ears. Two middle-aged women were discussing:

Woman 1: “My daughter-in-law is having those days. So I am supposed to do all the house chores for the next five days on my own.”

Woman 2: “So do you follow this for five days? We only follow for three days.”

Woman 1: “No no. We follow for whole five days. We don’t even let her touch our used clothes to wash. Why make our clothes dirty with her touch when she is on her period?”

Woman 2: “We allow washing clothes. We just don’t allow her in the kitchen and the temple.”

Woman 1: “No. I believe that if you are following it then follow completely.”

Sorry, did I just say ‘Progressive Mindset?” Still, in many parts of our society, people actually take pride in believing and inculcating these manipulated myths.

On the other hand, many families don’t believe in such myths. Yes, these are nothing but myths. The rules were made for women so that they could get the compulsory rest during their periods. But what have we done? We started relating it with God. In the name of God, we have declared human beings dirty, untouchable for the same function which makes her capable of giving birth to another human being.

God, Mother Nature, Power, whatever you call it, has created living beings, including us, the humans, including females. That nature has created our bodies. No one has created their organs on their own. It’s just us, the humans, who have always differentiated and discriminated other humans based on various things: bodies, gender, colour, religion and money. In some way, we make others’ lives miserable, and we don’t feel guilty about it.

Humans have power: the power of the mind, the power of speech and the power of intelligence. But it is a shame that we use this power to diminish other humans for something very natural and obvious.

Not everyone studies science. But you need to get yourself informed instead of believing in myths and lies which you are told at a very young age. The girl would consider herself dirty during her periods because that’s how she has been conditioned since childhood. Did you just see that? We, the ill-informed people made a person discriminate one’s self. And trust me, an ill-informed human is more dangerous than a dumb human.


Image Source: Pixabay


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