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  • Stephy Stephen

End The Period Stigma: Why is menstrual awareness important?

As a recent female graduate looking for her first job, I was pleasantly surprised when I was informed that menstrual leaves are available at ETI, as it was the first offer I got in a long while that had the provision. It was probably why I felt comfortable discussing PCOS and menstrual health in the very first meeting I had with the team. I write this down with immense gratitude for the privilege of menstrual education that my social circle has received and with the inevitable sadness at the realization that it’s still a privilege

The news report of the untimely death of a 14-year-old by suicide due to stress related to menstrual period shocked us all in the last month. While this unfortunate incident has created a discussion about the importance of period education, it is still shrouded in shame and stigma, as impenetrable as the black polythene covers that the sanitary pads are stuffed into.

The attempt to create a shift in the societal mindset about the multitude of mental and physical health implications of menstruation should start early on in homes and schools. One single chapter in biology textbooks about reproduction where menstruation finds a mere mention is inadequate to even remotely capture the depth of psycho-social and physical changes a period can bring. The lack of menstrual awareness will further perpetuate distress as it translates to more barriers in achieving menstrual hygiene. From the monthly bleed to menstrual products to medical assistance, menstrual education in India needs to reinvent itself. The scope of such education measures should expand not only in terms of its topics, but also in regards to its participants. The non-menstruating half of our population also needs to be aware of the changes associated with periods, so that they can become part of the support networks. Just because it is a natural process, does not mean that it should become a cross to bear.

Here’s hoping for a future where sanitary pad vending machines are no longer a sign of ‘elite’ institutions and where menstruation is not a topic of discussion only in hushed tones.


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