In light of the World Menstrual Health and Hygiene Day observed recently, I won’t pad how I feel about the stigma and taboo around periods. We all came into this world from the same place– the uterus. A concept that needs reminding in every possible context today. However, the process essential for bringing life on earth is associated with shame, humiliation and even disgust in many parts of the world.
My father is a doctor. So, menstrual health was treated as just another health issue in my household. So, despite growing up in a small non-city (district) in the state of Bihar in India, I was fortunate enough that my home was a safe space where there was no disgust associated with this topic. I was allowed to sit in all poojas (religious ceremonies) and was welcome to whine about my horrible cramps. But, outside the house, things were different. Friends and even aunties had different names for the monthly cycle– from “Aunty flow” to “down” and whatnot.
Decades years later, telling the same people that I am writing an article on menstrual health and hygiene was in itself a great litmus test for the taboo and stigma around this topic even now. No one said that they were disgusted by the notion to my face but I got a lot of uncomfortable nods and grunts.
This Is A Matter Of Health
People need to understand that menstrual pain is a medical condition (and an unbearable one at that) and we need to talk about it– create awareness and bust myths.
According to a study, at least one in four women experiences distressing menstrual pain characterized by a need for medication and absenteeism from study or social activities. Period cramps (also known as dysmenorrhea), are mostly caused by a hormonal imbalance, which can start before the period commences and last for several days.
And in the past two years, amidst lockdowns and increased isolation due to COVID-19 all over the world, there have been reports of increasing “period stress” that is affecting women’s cycles and overall menstrual health. According to a study by Mayo Clinic, stress can not only cause increased menstrual pain but it can also delay the periods or cause Amenorrhea or the absence of menstruation.
So, instead of disguising this very natural and normal occurrence as a matter of shame, disgust and humiliation, we need to de-stigmatise it and create conversations around this topic.
Some Natural Remedies That Work For Me
Now that we have established that period cramps can be horrible and many women go through this pain every month, let me share a few easy, reliable, tried and tested natural remedies for better menstrual health.
When it comes to cramps, I try not to pop painkillers (anymore). Full disclosure: I used to pop 3-4 Ibuprofen tablets during one cycle when I was younger but now that I am 30 and probably a bit wiser, I find myself more inclined towards natural remedies.
Herbs like chasteberry and wild yam have been used for thousands of years for treating menstrual pain and boosting women’s health. Two years ago, I discovered and subscribed to The Scarlet Company’s Scarlet– a natural tonic that contains both these super herbs and more, and it has helped me a lot with my cramps and flow.
Another thing that never fails to work is a hot water bag. I swear by hot water bags and cannot go without them during my periods. They not only help with cramps but also ease the flow. Yoga also helps a lot too. In fact, for any new moms out there, if you are facing extremely heavy flow and acute period pain postpartum, just like me, trust me when I say that 20 minutes of sun salutation every day can make those horrible back pains and cramps go away.
This is 2022. Period.
This is 2022. The world is getting crazier, stranger and scarier every day. When one girl comes out of the “period-shaming” closet, she voices the pain and struggles of many others who might be still stuck inside. As a society, we need to do better. And, creating unnecessary sensationalism, stigma or taboo around serious health concerns and issues is not doing anyone any good. Can I get an Amen?