My Menstruation and How I beat Period Stigma.
If a dog touches your used sanitary pads, you’ll never get pregnant. Don’t climb trees during your cycle; they’ll not bear fruits. Don’t cook. Don’t sleep with a man. If you don’t get your period, you’ll die.
By now, I have heard every myth about menstruation. I am writing about menstruation and trying to inform people that these taboos and myths are unreal.
Menstruation is a basic fact of life for billions. Women and girls need their periods. It is vital, healthy, and totally normal. Yet menstruation topics are ignored, viewed as impure, shame and embarrassing in society. I want to break the taboo and stigma through this story.
I was in one of my monthly periods. For this particular month, my flow was heavy. I changed sanitary pads twice or thrice a day and there were a lot of crumps and pain. It was not my first menstruation that I would worry about, but this one flow instilled fear, anxiety, bravery in me to fight stigma and shame.
On Monday evening at around 5:30 pm, I was from work, this was the same time period I was in my cycle. A colleague at work always picks me up and drops me home. As we drove home, I never in my mind thought that blood would stain the red with black strip dress I wore for work. During the day, I changed sanitary pads thrice. My colleague dropped me on a junction sloping down to the residential where I live, and he did not notice anything.
As I got off the motorbike to walk home, a young girl comes notifying me that my dress is dirty while the Boda Boda men gave a deep stare at me. To me, I thought the Boda Boda men on the stage had sent her because they love disturbing females who pass by there. The young innocent girl’s message was not understood because she used a different language leading to a language barrier between the two of us. I then walked away.
A few meters away from the Boda Boda stage, a lady whom I bypassed called me “aunt, aunt”, your dress! I froze that instant and shivered.
Terrified within, I wondered if there was a problem with my dress, absorbing her statement, I then checked on my dress only to see a big stain of blood. In a blink of the eye, I looked back to see if the young little girl was still there, and to my surprise, she was standing right where I left her facing my direction.
This was her message, she was informed about the bloodstain in my dress. From this incident, this is how I felt.
- I felt embarrassed.
Genuinely after realizing that there was a bloodstain in my dress and more than 20 men had seen it, I wished the earth could crank down and swallow me, As I walked home, I put the handbag I was carrying beside me to behind me to cover the stain from other people.
2 . Secondly, I felt ashamed.
It was shameful for me that a young innocent girl came to inform that my dress was a mess and I could not understand what she was saying. I felt ashamed and disgusted with myself that the public knows is laughing at me bleeding through the dress was stigmatizing, and this made me stressed the whole night that I barely slept anxiously for the next day's reactions.
Getting Out of this Stigma.
The next day, I had to use the same road in order to head to work. Yesterday’s incident was stigmatizing and one way or the other, this was the only road to connect to the main road. And I will have to get a boda on the stage to drop me at work because my colleague communicated he would be late.
Fear throbbed, I knew that these Boda Boda men will not allow to carry me on their motorcycles because they now think that am dirty.
Walking past the Boda stage, One guy shouted “ aunt, aunt, tugande?” Simply implying, aunt, can we go?. I kept wondering if he was not among the others on stage yesterday, fortunately, he was. I wanted to get this experience out of my head and I ought to do something, we ought to do something.
- Develop self-esteem within yourself.
Menstruation is healthy and a natural part of the reproductive cycle. It is normal to bleed through the clothes sometimes when the flow is heavy. When you assure yourself that Menstruation is not impure, Then believe that these Boda Boda men or this little girl and the woman have sisters, a mother, a wife who see their periods every month.
The mindset I developed helped me fight the fears I had yesterday. And I think we should remove the misconception of blood as impure.
2 . Education.
We need to educate men and women, boys and girls on Menstrual health in our community. Having an open discussion of the taboos and myths to Menstruation will help young adolescent girls out there to come out of the stigma, they will be enlightened that Menstruation is just like the other fluids in our bodies.
Discussion on these topics will have a foster improvement among the peers and other relations making everyone around us very supportive.
3. Providing reusable sanitary pads and puberty education to girls and boys.
Every child should have sanitary, reusable pads and other menstruating materials, know what a period is and how the cycle works in order to feel normal and secure in their own body to help them get out of the stigma associated with periods. The fear associated with shame, embarrassment, and stigma is a result of inadequate menstrual hygiene products. Once there are adequate menstrual health products, the stigma will be kicked out of the way in the menstruation cycle.
You are all products of missed- menstruation, and you ought to provide mental, physical, psychological, and financial support to every girl and woman in their menstrual cycles to feel normal and comfortable in society.
“You are all products of missed periods!”