Menstruation and Self-care.

Menstruation and Self-care.

28th of May is celebrated as the World Menstrual Hygiene Day.

For a woman, menstruation is practically a life-partner, isn’t it? No wonder then that we refer to our Periods as “Chums”! And, these chums can be a big pain in the…you know what!  But, it’s these very chums that we need to be grateful for giving us the ability to carry within our womb a life–a blessing the species of the opposite sex is deprived of.

And, it’s these chums that deserve to be celebrated on World Menstrual Hygiene Day!

It’s, indeed, a great platform to also share menstrual care and hygiene that we need to follow.

 

MENSTRUATION AND SUPERSTITION:

We have heard of customs in our country as well as in certain foreign countries, about how menstruating women are considered impure. 

Instead of considering Periods as just a physiological process, like any other,  happening inside the human body, they are regarded with disgust, and a woman on her period, impure.

It’s only awareness about the process, and education, that can banish such age-old myths and superstitions and help women lead better lives.

So, yes, thanks again to the Menstrual Hygiene Day, we can openly talk about this “taboo” topic, and express the need to accept it as a natural process and help women get the support they so need.

 

 PERIOD PRODUCTS AND THEIR AVAILABILITY:

If you are reading this post, you are one of those blessed ones who have access to period products of the best quality, without having to make any adjustments in your monthly budget. But, as you know, there are millions of women out there who have no such access to any products that can take care of them during those five days of the month.

I am sure you must have read about how women belonging to the poorer sections of our society have to make do with anything they can find to protect themselves during their periods.

Rags dirtier than the dusters used to clean floors,  leaves, ash, paper, mud…my fingers tremble as I type these words, wondering how these women go through their entire lives living in such squalid conditions when they actually deserve better.

Thankfully, we do have some kind samaritans who, through the sheer goodness of their heart, have made affordable sanitary napkins available for these women. May their tribe increase!

We could also lend a helping hand to women, like our domestic help, for example, with period products that they might find unaffordable. It could make a world of difference to them!

ECO-FRIENDLY PERIOD PRODUCTS:

Today, the focus is on sustainable living and women are opting for products that are manufactured from natural fibres that do not pose a threat to either our health or our environment.

Reusable sanitary napkins made from cotton, disposable sanitary napkins that are bio-degradable, intimate washes made from oils and rose water and without any harmful chemicals can be bought online or from stores that stock up on such products.

These products are skin-friendly, do not cause rashes or irritation to the intimate areas as they are made specifically keeping our skin in mind.

These also do not put our environment at risk, considering a sanitary pad takes almost 800 years to decompose!

Do check out such websites that speak about sustainable sanitary products.

MENSTRUATION AND SELF-CARE:

Today, at the age of 46, I am not so bothered about the PMS or my periods. It is definitely a painful period, no doubt, but I have learned to take care of myself and manage it well with certain lifestyle changes.

However, there are many youngsters who suffer from lack of information about self-care during periods and find it difficult to handle the PMS as well as the time during the periods. And, hence this post.

 

PERIOD PROBLEMS:

Mood swings, body ache, tenderness of breasts, stomach cramps, giddiness, fatigue, irritability are all problems that we face before and during periods. Around 10 days before our period starts, ovulation takes place, and the hormonal changes that take place in our body bring about the symptoms that announce that our periods are just round the corner.

Our moods swing from ecstasy to irritability, and we can shed tears at the drop of a hat! Our anger too can shoot through the roof if we don’t control it in time. It’s really a tough time to handle. But, there are certain changes that you can make in your daily life, diet and lifestyle that will help you manage the symptoms better.

SELF-CARE TIPS FOR A HAPPY PERIOD:

1 First of all, breathe. And, the first instant you start feeling like you are not yourself, know that you are PMS-ing.

2 Our diet plays a huge role in managing our moods, so eat well. Include vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs in your daily diet.

Flaxseeds are known to reduce depression and irritability thanks to the Omega 3 fatty acids present in them. Dry roast and grind flaxseeds and fenugreek seeds and have a spoonful of this powder every morning on an empty stomach. Follow it with two glasses of water that has lemon juice, grated ginger, tulsi leaves and carom seeds.  Just boil the water for 5 minutes and drink it when warm.

3 If you are suffering from unbearable stomach cramps, use a hot water bag to give yourself some relief. Check with your family physician or your gynaecologist for painkillers.

4 Take it easy when you feel too tired or sore. Sleep for some more time (if you can), or try and reduce some workload if you can’t take a leave from work/college. You deserve all the rest you can get.

5 Try practicing Yoga asanas that give relief from backache, stomach ache, and pain in the legs. Breathing exercises or Pranayam (learned from a Yoga teacher) will definitely help keep your moods under control.

6 Do visit a counsellor or a psychiatrist if your mood swings are uncontrollable. There is really no need to feel ashamed. It’s for your health, my dear!

7 Do go for a walk in the evening to fill your lungs with some fresh air if you have been sitting cooped up at home all day. It will do you a world of good! Your need the exercise because sitting for long hours does more harm than good.

8 During PMS, one does crave chocolates or spicy, junk food. Whenever I start craving chocolates, pizza or chaat, I know my chums are just round the corner and I go indulge myself without any guilt. Do not bother about calories on such days; just pamper yourself. it’s an advice given to me by my gynaec friend!

9 Call up or meet your girlfriends to share your PMS woes.Your girls will understand you better than anyone else, coz they too go through it all and know the exact words that will soothe you.

10 Pamper yourself on days when you feel morose and/or melancholic. Opt for your favourite comedy TV series or movies, and not something tragic or depressing. But, if you do feel better after shedding some tears,  then stock up on a handful of tissues and just have a good cry. It can be quite the therapy you need! I do it…all I have to do is watch dog videos or read something sentimental and I cry a bucketful! It does give me a lot of relief.

 

Your Periods need not come in your way as you work towards building a Life for yourself. A little bit of TLC (tender loving care) is all it needs to live a healthy and happy life…even during “those five days”!

Looking after yourself (before, during and after your periods) is your duty and your responsibility towards yourself. For, if you don’t, no one will. Trust me!

Our face doesn’t often reveal that we are on our periods, except when we are cranky or fatigued. And, even then, we have to continue working–at home or at the office–for no one’s going to sweep us off our feet, lay us on a bed and offer to do our work for us! All they will say, is, “Come on, it’s just something that happen every month! What’s the big deal?”

Forgive them, for they are ignorant.  Take extra care of yourself and shower yourself with loads of love, ‘coz you are worth it!

 

Love,

SHILPA…

 

P.S.

A note to men:

Dear men,

If you are reading this…those five days of the month when we aren’t ourselves are tough on us. We aren’t enjoying a picnic–it’s all because of the hormones, you see, that we “go crazy” (as you like to call it). So, some amount of sympathy, and empathy, with a dollop of caring words will help us a lot.

Thank you!

Shilpa…

 

 

It's important to look after yourself, for if you don't, no one will!

 

 

 

 

22 thoughts on “Menstruation and Self-care.

  1. note to the men is the highlight of the post, Shilpa. well written.
    I used to use hot water bag on my stomach on the first 2 days and it brought great relief to me. I used to sip limbu paani made in lukewarm water. My friends used to have zeera paani. these home remedies assuage the uneasiness attached with the periods.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, Kalpana. Home remedies are the best, whatever be the malady. Thankfully, for me, I haven’t experienced any cramps. Just tenderness of the breasts (which can get difficult when travelling) and a pain in the lower back.

      Like

  2. That note at the end was the best bit. Most men just do not get it or use it as a tactic to put women down. Loved your post – it’s a great reminder that we need extra care those five days of the month. My daughter is entering her teens and I’m a little bit worried about how she’s going to take it when it happens.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True, Tulika. Most men find it all a nuisance and think we put up an act to avoid doing any work. Ah, well, unless we don’t sensitise them, things aren’t going to change, right? I do hope the note at the end of my post makes at least few men change their thinking. ;P

      Reading about your worries for your daughter, reminds me of myself, when it all began. How I hated it all, and wondered why do only we girls in India have to live with it!? Heheheh..

      Like

  3. Did I tell you that I recently switched to menstrual cup and am really loving it so far. Yes, we need to take care of ourselves. For me the PMS drives me nuts. Exercising helps me though the heat, mood swings and bloating really pull me down. I try to slow down and take more care of myself. This is a useful post, Shilpa.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Rachna!

      I can imagine how easy-to-use the cup is, Rachna. I wanted to make the switch earlier, but kept dilly-dallying. Now because the flow has reduced considerably, I will switch over to the reusable pads. Those are far more comfy, I feel. No rashes and all. 🙂

      Like

  4. You know I hate it when I am asked if I am PMSing when my mood throws tantrums. It means to me as my emotional bursts are of no value thus not to pay heed to.
    It has been forever thinking about the menstrual cup and I cannot bring myself to use it. Everybody out there is advocating its use now. I liked the bit about helping the domestic helps with providing them quality period products. I will take this up upon return to India.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here!
      Earlier, whenever I would be in a bad mood, or irritable, hubby would ask if I was chumming, or pmsing. It hurt badly, coz I wasn’t doing anything on purpose!

      It’s just something I ignore now and don’t share with him anymore. I try to keep quiet when he is around and when I am PMSing. That’s the best I can do for myself!

      Menstrual cup is something I am not going to invest in now because my flow has reduced drastically. SO, I will go in for reusable sanitary napkins. I also intend to discontinue using the tampons. They are comfortable to use, but I don’t feel the need to use those anymore. Am growing “old” now! 😛

      Like

  5. Recently I started feeling fatigued and irritable during my periods. Now I know a little more rest and pampering helps me from turning into a beast during this time. Taking it easy really helps. Good tips, Shilpa.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A very useful and informative post, Shilpa! Periods can be painful but they are absolutely necessary too. I am thankful to my mother who introduced sanitary napkin to me when a few of my friends were using cloth.

    However, I am more thankful to the maker of menstrual cup who has made my period more comfortable. I feel more liberated after using the cup, a feeling which a sanitary napkin cannot provide.

    I urge you and all women folks to take up menstrual cup for a happy, rash free, smell free and environmental friendly period.

    I agree with you on binge eating during PMS…it has happend with me too. I know my period is round the corner when my hunger doesn’t get satiated. However, I also know the side effects – the fullness and bloating after eating much. I get terribe back pain on my 1st or 2nd day of chums, however, for the last few months, the intensity has reduced. Maybe practising bhujangasana has helped. I don’t see any other change. Will heed your advice and consume more flaxseed too and see if it helps me further.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have also heard about the menstrual cup being a blessing, but I am planning on using the reusable sanitary pads I found online.
      My backache has also reduced considerably, maybe because of age, or maybe because of perimenopause.

      Earlier, I would only lie around the house feeling depressed and tired. Now, though, I go for my walks, do some Yoga asanas and also eat whatever gives me happiness.

      I only wish I had realised this earlier!

      Thanks Anshu, for sharing your experience and also for talking about the menstrual cup. ❤

      Like

  7. Excellent post about menstruation, Shilpa. I just can’t imagine what it must be like for poor women without access to proper protection. So terrible. I remember reading about that man in India who invented a machine to make inexpensive pads. I thought it was great that a man was so innovative and empathetic to women’s needs. Many men just don’t get it and only see it as an imposition to them. I remember my hubby being that way on occasion and not being that sympathetic. Loved your letter to men to try and be patient and have empathy! Good one!

    Now I’ve gone through menopause which presents its own challenges but I’m still relieved to be done with periods. Mine were always very heavy and painful along with great fatigue and mood swings. Nope, don’t miss them one bit but I do have empathy for those women who suffer during them. Not much fun and important to practice lots of self care of eating right and getting rest and avoiding a lot of stress which just escalates the mood swings. And indulging in chocolate is a must! Haha!

    Great article, my dear!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Cat. Men rarely make an effort to understand what women go through every month. But, if they so much as come down with a cold or a sore throat, they behave like babies, and demand all the attention they can get!

      We are built stronger, no doubt, but we too are humans, and I wish this is what men would realise.

      Taking care of ourselves is so necessary, because it’s only we who know us and our needs better. That’s the reason I stress on self care and self love, whether you are on your periods or not. Making our health a priority is a need for every woman.

      And, if eating a chocolate on days you are feeling down makes you feel good, then you just go ahead and grab an entire bar and eat it to your heart’s desire!

      🙂
      Thank you so much for sharing so frankly what you have experienced!

      Like

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