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Period. Good For Her, Good For Earth

Menstruation needs to be seen as a basic biological activity among women, and acknowledged for the same

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It is one of the greatest ironies that one of the Oscar winning entries from India, this year was a documentary on Indian women and the concerns they face. Period. End of Sentence is a movie that comes at a very apt time in the history of our country.  The average woman has 450 periods in a lifetime, making this a long term and frequent occurrence. We have 42.7 million consumers in India. 18 million Urban and 24.7 million Rural using sanitary napkin. However, the awareness on menstrual health is something that is still almost miniscule.

One of the primary reasons for this, is the cultural taboos and myths that accompany menstruation. The other is a simple conspiracy of silence around menstruation, which is seen as a primarily ‘women’s issue and not a health issue. Studies suggest that as many as 200 million women, lack awareness on menstrual hygiene. Women are historically less inclined to consider their own health and the taboo around menstruation can lead to many concerns for them. From young girls dropping out of school when they get their first period, to lack of even basic simple knowledge around choice of sanitary napkins, even among educated urban women, the problems are numerous. The impact of poor menstrual hygiene has increased health risk, including urinary tract and reproductive tract infections. 

Menstruation needs to be seen as a basic biological activity among women, and acknowledged for the same. Till very recently, very few Indian women had much choice in sanitary napkins, or even knowledge of the impact that these have on their health. The impact of poor women’s health is not just a personal one, but affects families and community as well. An overall improvement in women’s health and participation in secondary education and jobs can impact a country’s GDP by almost 1%.

It’s not all a gloomy picture though. As education and awareness levels improve, women are getting better access to menstrual health. Once the taboo around the subject is removed, we can have more conversations around menstrual health and acknowledge it as necessary as any other health concern women might face. The rising trend of better sanitary care, from the most affordable options to a premium range, means that women get to exercise greater choice in their menstrual hygiene. It is heartening to see that the industry is growing by 80% in the next two years. This Industry has done business worth $508 million in the last financial year. 

A responsible brand, will recognise that just creating a good product is not enough. It’s also important for the brands to increase overall conversation and awareness on menstrual hygiene. Educating women not only on the efficacy of the product but also the impact of harmful plastics, chlorine in the product can have on their long-term health is as important. Another great responsibility we have today is towards the environment. As more and more brands enter the market, there will be greater awareness and choice for women to do right by themselves, their health as well as their environment. 

It is also very important to have a healthy discussion around menstruation, which seems extremely hard for a lot of people. We have heavily stigmatized menstruation in India. It is the time to stop treating it as something unholy and conforming to the notion of it being a taboo. We need to raise our voice against the rural cultures who consider menstrual blood to be something evil; rising above these misconceptions will certainly help the women make a choice and stand up for themselves. 

One should also understand their own period cycle as it is also extremely important in keeping up with menstrual hygiene. To figure where yours fits, start counting from the first day of your last period & stop on the first day of your next. The pre-period often includes symptoms of PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome). Post-period days tend to carry a heaviness of having finished something significant while simultaneously preparing for something equally so – ovulation. Peak ovulation is the high fertility days of your every month/period cycle. Ovulation takes place 12 to 14 days after the first day of your period cycle. 

Once you become friends with your body, you learn how it feels during different phases of your period cycle, which makes it easy to correspond your plans in accordance with its needs, like planning a trip to the beach in the appropriate window of time.

The female body is no doubt a galore of enchantment – take the vagina, for instance. It is made so as to keep itself clean with the help of natural secretions. Aside from menstrual blood, vaginas also secrete a white mucus. This discharge is produced naturally and is considered to be the sign of a healthy vagina.

And then the little, obvious things – maintain sound personal hygiene, try to use clean WC facilities, change your pads every 4-6 hours ,wear clean underwear that you change often, maybe even wear panty liners to quit troubling yourself (and your pretty underwear) with stains from everyday discharges! 

The title of this article presents a dichotomy: the idea of a period being “good for her” in the modern day seems like a pipe dream. With all its surrounding taboos, women on periods are shamed and alienated. The only way to break this upsetting norm is by taking charge of your own self. My message to every woman is to begin taking care of herself and being kind to her body…I promise you, soon, society will come around.  

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
world health day 2019 women

Monica Bindra

The author is Co-founder, Laiqa - bio-degradable sanitary napkin brand

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