Women in the society have been conditioned to believe some natural changes in their bodies are not meant to be heard of or discussed about even among female counterparts. One of them is the Menstrual Cycle or Menstruation. According to Dictionary.com, Menstruation is the process whereby a woman discharge blood and other materials from the lining of the uterus at intervals of about one lunar month from puberty until menopause, except during pregnancy.
Menstruation is a natural occurrence in a woman’s body. It is nothing to be ashamed of but in the past, the society made it seem like a taboo subject to be avoided only to be discussed behind closed doors in a ‘hush hush’ way and this has extended to the here and now.
I could recall a time during my secondary school days when the girls in my class were huddled together chatting about menstruation. Curious, I joined the discussion and blurted out that I not only collect money to buy sanitary pads from my mum but sometimes from my dad too if my mum was not around. I could still recall their dismay as if I had committed an abomination. To ascertain whether I meant what I said or not, they asked whether I always use a euphemism or a code word instead of saying 'pad' and I told them no, I ask my dad point blank that I need money for sanitary pads. There were outrage cries of how I could ask my father about such a thing and not feel shame? Didn’t I know it is something that should be kept between women? Blah blah blah. I was embarrassed and felt like the weird one. I was also surprised and angry and my anger made me tell them that my father had never for once complained about this nor made me feel embarrassed. In fact, to him, it was just a normal thing that a teenage girl should request for. I didn’t join them for such a discussion again after that but it didn’t deter me from asking my dad money for pads though.
Another instance was few weeks ago I was discussing with my roommate about the pros and cons of various brands of sanitary products when one of her friends who came to chat with us excused herself with her face bright red and hurriedly left the room as though she was being chased. It was later my roommate informed me that she was not comfortable with our discussion! I was flabbergasted. I thought it was only in Nigeria some women still feel reluctant to bring on issues like this but I didn’t know it extends to another country in another continent! Afterwards, my roommate told me about a girl in the next building who was bleeding for two weeks straight instead of the normal 4-7 days period and neither informed her parents nor her friends until she was too weak to walk and had to be rushed to the hospital. If she had talked with someone, she would have known that it wasn’t normal to bleed for so long and would have gotten help sooner.
This is a deep rooted issue that needs to be addressed. It has been so ingrained in us to keep things like this to ourselves that when things go wrong, we don’t know until it’s dangerous or too late.
To the men out there, never make your daughters, wives, sisters, female friend uncomfortable about their bodies. As women, we should feel comfortable with ourselves and with our bodies, we should let our children know it is okay to have conversations with their friends about menstruation and not to be afraid of the society. If you are having menstrual pain, do not be afraid to let your partner, father, brother, mother, friend know so they can you help or do whatever makes you comfortable. If you feel something is wrong with your body or things are not the way they are supposed to, please speak out. The world has changed and it's still changing, it's gradually accepting that menstruation is not a taboo.
Remember, as a woman, the society does not define you. You define yourself and what you are. Be proud of yourself.