Story by Pragya Bhagat | Art by Samidha Gunjal
The Menstrual Cycle
Menstruation, also referred to as a ‘period’, is normal vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of the female reproductive cycle. The bleeding occurs as the uterus sheds its lining, which is called the endometrium. It is a completely natural process that virtually all girls and women between the ages of around 12-50 experience. A period can last up to seven days, occurring once in a 28-day cycle. Periods may lead to varying degrees of pain and discomfort, such as cramps or bloating as well as changes in mood and behaviour. These are also perfectly normal, and can be alleviated using various methods, like painkillers or hot water bags.
Today, there is a wide variety of products that can be used to deal with periods. These include sanitary napkins, as mentioned in the poem/comic, as well as tampons, liners, and menstrual cups. It’s important to choose an option that one is comfortable with! Here are some links that you can explore to learn more:
Although menstruation is a completely natural process that half of the human population experiences, there has long been, and even is today, existing stigma surrounding it. Periods are still treated with shame and perceived as something ‘unclean’ and ‘dirty’. In parts of India, menstruating women are traditionally not allowed into the house and are forced to reside in a space outside. Women are also often barred from several religious activities when on their period. Even in modern and urban spaces, women are expected to deal with their periods and period products with embarrassment and secrecy. Periods are talked about in a hush-hush manner and are referred to by different words. Products are also similarly wrapped in newspaper/ black bags/ discrete packaging, as though they were something bad.
Despite society’s existing stigma, it’s important to remember that periods are perfectly normal and healthy. As Pragya and Samidha tell us in the comic, it’s about time we all accept that! The stigma surrounding periods stems from several myths and false beliefs. It’s up to us to break this narrative through more open conversation and education regarding menstruation.