DON’T SUFFER! TALK ABOUT IT!
Every month, millions of women go through a cycle of pain, cramps, and discomfort.
Menstruation, a natural part of a girl’s reproductive cycle when the blood from the uterus exits through the vagina. It is a biological process that happens to occur between the age of 11-15 years.
So many taboos and myths surround menstruation, and our society covers it under the blanket of secrecy. Due to these myths, women are even restricted from participating in various socio-cultural activities.
Many cultures associate menstruation with shame, embarrassment, and dirt.
If we talk about India, even using the word menstruation is no less than a myth. This has been a hurdle in spreading awareness about the subject.
What are these myths?
One of the Vedas says that Indra Dev was guilty of killing a brahmin, and out of his dead body, a woman, namely, Bramahatya, was born. Since there was no way to send her back, she was given a place to live as menstruation in the women’s body. As a result, it appears every month as menstrual flow. That’s why many people consider it a sin and something impure. Another myth also claims that a man who sleeps with a woman during her period absorbs that part of the sin. This is just the beginning.
In Hindu culture, women are prohibited from participating in various activities because they’re considered impure. These beliefs are completely baseless and illogical.
Scientifically, the actual cause of menstruation is ovulation followed by missed chances of pregnancy that results in bleeding from the endometrial vessels and is followed by preparation of the next cycle.
In India, a large part of the population believes these stories. It is also believed that menstruating women are unhygienic and unclean. Hence, the food they prepare or handle can get contaminated. Society doesn’t realize the effect of these taboos on women. These myths and restrictions affect them mentally as well as physically.
Harmful implications of these taboos:
Due to these myths, women hesitate to talk about it, and on the other side, a lot of men don’t even understand how natural this process is. According to the recent CAG report, in India, about 23 million girls drop out of school every year due to periods.
Moreover, menstruating women find it hard to share how badly they suffer the pain and cramps. And most of the time, rather than seeing a gynecologist, they endure in silence. This pain can sometimes lead to DYSMENORRHOEA. This term might sound new to you, but a lot of women are victims of it.
What is Dysmenorrhoea?
Dysmenorrhoea is the medical term for your menstrual cramps. It is a condition of excessive pain in female reproductive organs due to some issues. It is of two types, primary and secondary.
Primary dysmenorrhoea is the name for common menstrual cramps, and it happens with every other girl. Primary dysmenorrhoea is not because of any disease, and the pain generally begins one or two days before you get your period or when bleeding actually starts. It can cause severe and frequent menstrual cramping from severe and abnormal uterine contractions.
And the other one is secondary dysmenorrhoea, which is a serious problem. This is due to some physical cause or a disorder, or an infection in your female reproductive organs. Pain from secondary dysmenorrhea usually begins earlier in the menstrual cycle and lasts longer than common menstrual cramps.
The irony is that a large part of society is unfamiliar with this problem, and society appears to be a hurdle in advancing knowledge about dysmenorrhoea. It’s no less harmful than other diseases.
Related: Is a Menstrual Cup Under One’s Wing?
Causes of Dysmenorrhoea
Primary Dysmenorrhoea is caused due to a chemical imbalance in the body. People with this condition may witness abnormal contractions of the uterus.
Other medical conditions cause secondary dysmenorrhea. It is generally caused when endometrial tissue implants outside the uterus. Endometriosis often causes internal bleeding, infection, and pelvic pain. There can be various other reasons for this condition like Pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine fibroids, abnormal pregnancy, tumors, et cetera.
How does Dysmenorrhea feel like?
Symptoms of dysmenorrhea can differ from person to person.
However, some of the common symptoms can be nausea, cramping in the lower abdomen, pain radiating down the legs, pain in the lower back, fatigue et cetera. If you have any such symptoms, do not hesitate to consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.
Also, it may be helpful to keep track of your periods and the days on which pain and cramps are the worst. It will help you see the changes in your body.
If you notice other symptoms, like headaches or heavy flows, or nausea, you should keep track of those, too.
How painful is Dysmenorrhoea?
More than half of women who menstruate have some pain for 1 to 2 days each month. Usually, the pain is mild and goes away in 3-4 days. But for some women, the pain is so severe that it keeps them from doing their normal activities for several days a month.
The fastest way to cure Dysmenorrhea
It is advisable to see your doctor. Apart from that, you can place a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower back or abdomen, rest when needed, avoid foods that contain caffeine, avoid smoking and drinking alcohol, massage your lower back and abdomen; you can have hot beverages as it can soothe your menstrual cramps.
Moreover, the ones who exercise regularly often have less menstrual pain. To help prevent cramps, you may make exercise a part of your weekly routine. Apart from that, you can try yoga, acupressure, and breathing exercises. In case these steps don’t relieve pain, your healthcare provider can suggest medications for you.
What present scenario says?
Earlier, even asking for menstrual leave was considered unethical. However, with the advent of social media, a lot of women, media organizations, and individual blogs began addressing the issue. This led to the acceptance of talking about menstruation and the difficulties associated with it.
Several countries have introduced a menstrual leave provision for their employees. Japan passed a law allowing women with debilitating periods to take days off. Similarly, in South Korea, women were granted menstrual leave from the year 2001 onwards.
Companies like Nike have also adopted similar policies. Even in India, many companies follow these countries’ footsteps and allow female employees to take a day or two days leave during menstruation. For example, Swiggy has announced to give two days monthly “time off” to its women delivery partners. And various other companies like Mathrubi, Zomato are doing the same.
It’s high time to rise above these taboos and talk about them openly. And it is earth-shaking to educate the women about dysmenorrhoea so that it can be diagnosed and treated on time. Every time you suffer in silence, a new victim is born.