Is Just Menses and It Is Normal
“You are now a woman. Do not allow any man to touch you because if they do, you will get pregnant”
“I was 9 years old when I started my menses and it was in church. As I stood up, I was quickly told to sit down that I was stained. when I finally checked, I saw blood and I got super scared wondering where I had an injury that will make me bleed so much. I was told it was my period and that it is a normal thing and that I was officially a woman”.
Menstruation is an important human experience among girls and women. It marks the beginning of reproductive phase in a girl. But, this experience is highly stigmatized. At the beginning of menstruation, girls are told to be careful of boys, so as to avoid failing pregnant.
What is Menstruation? It is the monthly flow of blood from the uterus through the vagina in girls and women from puberty to menopause.
It is a normal process for women and girls, and it starts at puberty or adolescence. Girls tend to start their menstrual periods between the ages of 10 and 14. And a few starts at 9 years. This continues until they reach menopause usually between their late forties to mid-fifties. During adolescence, a girl’s body starts to change. Along with physical changes (such as growing breasts, wider hips, and body hair) the girl will also experience emotional changes due to hormones.
The cycle for menses is usually around 28 days but can vary from 21 to 35 days. Each cycle involves the release of an egg (ovulation), which moves into the uterus through the fallopian tubes. The body’s tissues and blood start to line the walls of the girl’s uterus for possible fertilization. If the egg is not fertilized, the lining of a girl’s or woman’s uterus is shed through the vagina along with blood. The bleeding usually lasts between two to seven days each month, with some lighter flow and some heavier flow days. The menstrual cycle for girls during their first year or two is often irregular.
As part of activities marking the Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD), Knit Together Initiative (KTI) carried out a menstrual hygiene education at Increase International School. The sensitization event gathered over 50 students – who are adolescent girls to break the stigma on menstruation including teaching on appropriate use of sanitary products to manage one’s monthly period.
Way forward! Menstruation has critical implications for girl’s education and well-being. Menstrual hygiene materials must be made available and accessible to girls. Importantly, myths on menstruation must be broken in order to promote healthy self esteem among girls and relationship with boys. As menstrual health gains recognition globally as a critical human rights and development problem, stigmas and myths would have to give way to effectively address hygiene and management challenges faced by girls and women.