Imagine a world where women can freely bring up the topic of menstruation without worrying about anyone reacting violently or countering it with a period joke—what a concept, right? The menstrual cycle is a bodily function as normal as sweating so why is it that, even in 2018, bringing up the topic among friends still entails awkwardness and a lot of self-consciousness?
We live in a world where talking about something as natural as a woman's monthly period is taboo. We grew up believing that the subject of menstruation must be kept private because of the idea that it is disgusting and inappropriate. However, it is the lack of menstrual education and regular discussions about this topic that can become a potential threat to the health and lifestyle of women everywhere.
The stigma, as I have learned, begins at an early age, as early as a girl’s first period. I know this because when I woke up at 11 years old after a week of abdominal pain with a red stain on my underwear, I was panicked and felt so embarrassed that I didn’t tell my mother about it until hours later. Imagine being too embarrassed to tell your mother—the only woman in the house who would know what to do. Shame should not be a part of the menstrual experience and yet, during my very first time, it was all I felt.
By high school, every girl in class would have already been experiencing their periods and have learned the unspoken rule—you just don’t talk about your period, especially not around boys. With such a minimal frame of reference when it comes to menstrual experience, a young girl can only know so much about the changes going on in her body and how it should work.
In fact, I didn’t even realize what was wrong with my menstrual cycle when I was a junior in high school. For two straight months, I bled every day and I could not bring up the topic with my mother or my female friends because I wasn’t comfortable discussing it with anyone at all. That summer, I was hospitalized and nearly died of blood loss had I not been injected four bags of blood—all for the reason that I wanted to avoid an uncomfortable discussion about it. No woman should ever have to go through that.
I have a lot of regrets from my high school years and one of them is not talking about my period more. Yes, the menstrual cycle is painful and messy but when did we ever agree to tagging it as inappropriate, disgusting, or even shameful as a subject? It’s every woman’s right to be able to bring up the subject without worrying about anyone getting offended or reacting violently.
Talking more about menstruation can help make the world around us better understand the subject matter. There are only so many schools and companies around the world that fully comprehend the effects of the menstrual cycle to a woman’s body—just how painful and intense it can get—and actually allow menstrual leave. In the countries that don’t recognize menstruation as a valid reason for leave, women like me, who suffer heavy flows and monthly cramps, have to sacrifice several days’ worth of learning or salary in an entire year.
Open discussions regarding the menstrual cycle can also help disprove misconceptions and may guide us as a people into making better decisions for society and our country. One good example would be the issue of removing contraceptive pills from the Philippine market as a follow-through to the RH Law. Contraception is not its sole purpose but it also needed to regulate a woman’s irregular and unhealthy menstrual flow.
Changing the way we see and treat women’s menstrual cycle can do more than just promote a healthier lifestyle for women—it can save lives. Imagine a world where you can bring up the topic of you menstrual period and you’re met with genuine concern and curiosity. Imagine a world where men don’t feel embarrassed at the counter buying their sister or their girlfriend a pack of napkins or tampons. Imagine a world where women’s emotions aren’t invalidated because of her PMS. Now, help us make that happen.
In partnership with feminine care brand Jeunesse, we're encouraging you to break the stigma on our periods. Check out our pinned post on our Facebook page, and share your most memorable, awkward, or funniest period story!
ALSO READ: #KababaeMongTao: Why Girls Should Never Hear This Sexist Statement Ever Again