Last year was the first time I participated in Menstrual Hygiene Day. The theme was on #NoMore limits which spoke to me. The conversation made me realize how little Menstrual Hygiene and Health Education I received in my childhood. Yes, we had Science lessons and reproduction or rather adolescence was mentioned in class. This gave me a biological overview of what will happen to my body when I attain the age of 12 years.
So what actually happened? When I got my first period, I was terrified and had no idea what to do or who to talk to. Trust me, girls are not so friendly when you have soiled your dress and it is your first experience. Thank God for an older girl in the class who told me what was going on, gave me some pointers and instructed me to go talk to my mother about it.
What Nobody Tells You
I realize that there are so many things nobody talks to young girls about and they include and not limited to the following:
1. Period is part of being a woman and they are monthly till a point when you are either pregnant or hit menopause. If you miss it something is off.
2. CRAMPS HURT! Nobody warned me. They hurt as crazy and that is why so of us miss out on class or even work because the pain is unexplained.
The other part is the cramps manifest in different ways not just lower abdominal pain. Sometimes you will be bedridden because it is that time of the month.
3. NOT All period last for 3 days. This is just the bare minimum. Some experience it up to 7 days. There are, however, medical conditions related to this. So if you are having unusual periods see a medical practitioner.
4. THE FLOW IS NOT UNIFORM. Everyone has a different flow despite the number of days and you will need different types of Pads. For others, the flow is different at different times so you need to be self-conscious.
5. NOT ALL PADS ARE FRIENDLY. This is the hardest lesson to learn. Some sanitary towels are not so friendly and it is because of the material used to make them. The worst way to learn about this is when you get burnt and it will hurt badly. Choose the products you use carefully, preferably something with a cotton layer will be ideal.
6. YOU WILL NOT ALWAYS HAVE A SIGN. I used to think that there is a universal sign to know that my periods are on the way the truth is there is none. At times you will get cramps, at times your dates will be right while other times they will just show up. To be safe always have a pad or a tampon in your bag.
7. THERE ARE THINGS THAT CAN AFFECT YOUR CYCLE: I was surprised when I found out that anytime I traveled a far distance, my period came early. Being a woman requires you to be so alert because even certain foods will affect the cycle as well. There is no hack to this, everyday is a learning experience.
This is just about it. Feel free to share with us something you learnt along the way relating to Menstrual Health.
I run an initiative called Decent Conversations where we focus on Sexual Reproductive Health, Wellness, Relationships and Life Skills. We are in the process of implementing a Girls’ Menstrual Health project. This will be a comprehensive package, concentrating on provision of appropriate sanitation and hygiene (sanitary towels and panties), timely information about menstruation and puberty education.
To partner will us send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or reach us on 0786404432 / 0724569526.