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!

 

 

 

 

The first man to wear a sanitary pad. #WATWB

The first man to wear a sanitary pad. #WATWB

Imagine this – you get your period and there are no sanitary pads available where you live. Or, worse – the ones available at the chemists  are far beyond your means and threaten to burn a hole in your pocket. If you were to buy those pads, your kids  go without food! And, thus you settle for some rags, or maybe some leaves, or, brace yourselves, some ash!

Can you visualise yourself in such wretched conditions? We, who take our comfortable lifestyle for granted, cannot even imagine the plight of millions of women for whom even basic amenities are luxuries they can’t dream of affording!

So, when a man comes up with a brilliant idea of a machine that manufactures low-cost sanitary pads, it’s like manna to the women living in the developing countries.

 

Sharing today, at #WATWB, the story of Arunachalam  Muruganantham, the first man  to use a sanitary pad!  A school drop out from Southern India, his courage, perseverance and dedication  brought about a change in the lives of countless women  in rural India, as well as other developing countries.

 

The inspiring story of a man.

 

Do read the inspiring story of  ‘The Menstruation Man’,   here. 

We Are the World Blogfest, or #WATWB, created by Damyanti Biswas and Belinda Witzenhausen aims to bring hope through stories that spread positivity in the darkness that surrounds us. 

Do join in with stories of real life heroes who go beyond the call of duty to make a difference to our world. 

#WATWB is held on the last Friday of every month. Share the stories on your blog and on social media and help spread the love!

Replacing the negativity with positivity through social media is the need of the hour. Let us all do our best and focus the spotlight on people who work towards bringing about a change in our society and a ray of hope to the world.

 

Why whisper, when you can be carefree? #Period Pride

Why whisper, when you can be carefree? #Period Pride

                 I had my first period at the age of 12, and today, as I sense  menopause peeping from round the corner, I remember a statement made by a professor way back in college:

Celebrate menstruation! It is what makes you a woman!”

Golden words, those, considering, we women hate this thing we would like to think of as  an affliction! When I first learnt about it, I wondered if only women in our country suffered from it! Hilarious, I know, but in my day and  age, innocence still existed.

With no Internet to enlighten us with information, we were too naive to understand life and its ways.  Discussing such taboo topics with elders was considered to be strict no-no. Mother did advice me on what I was supposed to do if something “went wrong” in her absence. But, Dad was not to be consulted as he had no knowledge about anything of the sort!

I would often wonder when I would be rid of this monthly trauma, and so once  badgered mother to tell me when I would become a free bird.  She muffled a laugh, wrapped me in her arms and enlightened me  that my periods would be my companion for more than half of my lifetime! I almost fainted.

Mother would recount tales of how  women from olden days were treated  during those few days  of the month. They would have to stay in an outhouse, or some dark and dingy room all by themselves and their plates of food would be pushed towards them through the door left ajar for such tasks, lest they “touched” someone and contaminated them.

They were forbidden from entering temples and kitchens, for they were impure. And if by mistake they did brush past someone, then that person had to have an immediate bath!  I was aghast at that piece of news!

I also found out how certain practices  existed when I was young. Maybe they do so now, too! Maybe the way it is considered a taboo and has laws pertaining to behaviour during those days,is the reason why it  is looked down upon as an exasperating issue  rather than just another bodily function.

Some years ago, mother had invited some guests at her place and some religious rituals also had to be performed. I was on my period precisely at that time, but I decided to keep mum about it and help mother, lest all the work fell on her shoulders. As I went about completing the chores, I wondered why God, who created us, would consider His children to be impure because of something He Himself had blessed them with!

How could our God be so petty?

I confessed to mother a few days later fearing the worst. But, mother was a lot more progressive in her views than I gave her credit for and accepted my views proudly! I wish every mother would be like mine.
I  know that I am hurting sentiments by saying such things; I am aware how strongly some people feel about it the issue.

I have also read about some “scientific reasons” behind these so called laws. However, treating periods as a natural physiological occurrence, like urinating or sweating, would be a lot more sensible, isn’t it?

Also, discussing it with girls, as well as boys, when they come of age, and making them aware of the various eco-friendly products that can be used during periods, would help create the awareness it so deserves. Doing away with age-old laws and  assuming a  more progressive outlook will help the  Naari lead a better and a happier life.

*Linking this post to Write Tribe #Period Pride.