Menstruation is a physiological process that most girls and women of reproductive age go through and there is nothing 'dirty' or 'icky' about it.
Every year, we celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28. This year, the theme for the event is 'Making menstruation a normal fact of life by 2030'. To make it possible, an increased awareness for menstruation and menstrual hygiene is required, not just among women but also among men. We at Only My Health have taken an initiative to provide #PeriodEducationForAll and spoke to Dr Anjali Kumar (Maitriwoman for Instagrammers), Director-Obstetrics and Gynaecology, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram, to understand how we can sensitise and educate everyone about menstruation.
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The Importance Of Period Talk For Men And Young Boys
Menstruation is not just a ‘girl’s problem’, as many view it to be. We all are a part of it, irrespective of our gender.
Dr Kumar said, “Period is not just a woman’s thing. The men are also equally part of it. When we talk of periods, we talk about the reproductive capacity of a woman. But even men play a role in it, especially when it comes to pregnancy.”
According to the doctor, men also need to be aware that this is a biological phenomenon and needs to be handled in a very natural manner. They also need to understand what women are going through, she added.
Also Read: Can Irregular Periods Give Rise To Heart Diseases? Expert Explains The Connection
‘We Have To Talk, Talk, And Talk’
On being asked how men and young boys can be sensitised towards menstruation and menstrual hygiene, Dr Kumar said, “We have to talk, talk, and talk.”
“We have to have good and honest conversations about it without any shame or guilt on the part of the stakeholders. For instance, in a school, if a teacher or a counsellor talking to the children, they should be talking to the class together. Earlier when we were kids, the girls were taken to a separate room and given an education about periods. That’s not right. The boys and the girls both need to be taught about the difference between a boy’s and a girl’s body and anatomy and how menstruation is a normal, biological phenomenon in a woman,” she emphasised.
Also Read: Menopause: 7 Ways To Manage Hot Flashes
Misinformation starts at an early age and therefore, the doctor highlights the importance of sensitising boys at a young age. She said, “Even at home when the mother is talking to the boy, the sons can be encouraged to buy the sanitary pad for the sister, or the fathers need to understand that in case they’re ordering groceries online or they’re going to the market, it’s alright to buy sanitary pads for their sister or daughter and there’s no need to hide it.”
When it comes to menstruation and menstrual hygiene, there should not be any guilt or shame attached to it. “Why should a sanitary pad be wrapped in black paper, why should there be hush-hush talk around it, when this is normal?” she quoted.
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Men Can Be Good Allies, But How?
According to Dr Kumar, the first step to take is to integrate men and young boys into this part of a woman’s life, right from the beginning. They should be made aware of it from an early age so that they’re more sensitive towards it and understand menstruation, the pain associated with it, and the hygiene practices.
She said, “When a girl is growing up in a household, in a school, the mother or the teacher also need to integrate the boy into this at a very early stage, respectively. They need to be told that this is normal and they need to be giving a helping hand to their sister or daughter or mother, when they require it.”
There’s a saying ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’. So if you want to be an ally or someone who wishes to normalise ‘period talk’ and debunk myths and misconceptions around it, start from the bottom up. Educate people around you, at home, in school, at workplaces, and more.