Usually the Rendezvous was the 18th of every month. I had to be prepared to help her through that period of pain. She was always gloomy during that period loosing her ever present glam which made me smile all the time. I also had to have some painkillers and warm water, readily available to deal with the pains when it was unbearable. Even when we were not in the same location, I had to call her to ensure she was going through the pain as comfortably as possible. It was part of her life and my life too. You just cannot ignore it.
What is Menstruation?
Menstruation is a woman’s monthly bleeding. When a lady menstruates, her body sheds the lining of the uterus (womb). Menstrual blood flows from the uterus through the small opening in the cervix and passes out of the body through the vagina Most menstrual periods last from 3 to 5 days.
Menstrual Health and Hygiene is an issue that every girl experiences and has to deal with once she enters adolescence. A young lady’s first period or menarche usually begins between the ages of 9 and 14, although sometimes as early as 8 and as late as 17. Her first period is also a sign that puberty has begun. In some communities, the lack of appropriate and adequate sanitation facilities prevent girls from attending school, particularly when they are menstruating.
What are the challenges of Menstruation
The onset of menstruation is a landmark event in the life of a young woman. Yet many complications and challenges accompany such an event. Some of these challenges are:
- in some countries, girls cut up pieces of mattress or use twigs and leaves as pads, causing infection.
- in some countries women can’t hold traditionally male jobs because it is perceived that menstruation causes “imbalance” or is “unpure”.
- some people believe menstruation is a disease
- some girls have to miss school due to lack of menstrual hygiene facilities.
The beneficial link between female education and lifetime health has never been in doubt; a better-educated girl takes better control of her life. Not just her life but the life of the world. This is evident in how menstruation which isn’t popular on a global platform affects the Sustainable Development Goals like:
- Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages (Goal #3);
- Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all (Goal #4);
- Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all (Goal #8).
Health Problems Related to Menstruation
Women can have a range of problems with their periods, including pain, heavy bleeding, and skipped periods.
- Amenorrhea — the lack of a menstrual period. Causes can include: Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, Extreme weight loss, Eating disorders, Excessive exercising and Stress.
- Dysmenorrhea — painful periods, including severe cramps. For some women, taking a warm bath helps ease their cramps. Some over-the-counter pain medicines can also help with these symptoms.
- Abnormal uterine bleeding — vaginal bleeding that’s different from normal menstrual periods. It includes: Bleeding between periods, Bleeding after sex, Spotting anytime in the menstrual cycle, Bleeding heavier or for more days than normal, Bleeding after menopause.
What Can Be Done About Stigma Related to Menstruation?
We are all stake holders of Menstrual Health and not just the people experiencing them. How can we participate in making change in menstrual education?
- Provide education on menstrual hygiene, so that women and girls feel confident and are empowered to make informed decisions about how they manage their menstruation.
- Promote education for boys, men, mothers, teachers, health workers and other professionals, so they can help break negative social norms and provide accurate information and support.
- Enable girls to stay in school by ensuring access to hygienic menstrual products, adequate toilets, water and disposal options.
- Integrate menstrual hygiene education into national school curricula, policies and programs for adolescents
Office On Women’s Health: Menstruation and the menstrual cycle
Menstrual Hygiene Day: Education About Menstruation Changes Everything