Call it Aunt Flo, Sharks Week, datang bulan (the time of the month), dai yi ma (big aunty), and so on, women have been oppressed and fed with inaccurate and misleading information on menstruation for far too long.
Menstruation is a normal and natural body process that most women experience. Despite it being common, there are still numerous ludicrous misconceptions surrounding menstruation in this day and age.
According to a report by the World Bank Group, at least 500 million women and girls globally are facing period poverty, and do not have proper access to adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management.
With a lack of access to sanitary products comes limited awareness and understanding of the best ways to manage menstrual hygiene.
In conjunction with Aurelius Healthcare’s Menstrual Awareness Month, Dr. Azizah Rusly, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Aurelius Hospital Nilai is here to debunk some myths surrounding menstruation, which you may have heard or experienced.
1. “My mum said I need to wash my pad because blood is dirty, and it will attract devils!”
Period blood is similar to other blood from our body and is not dirty. It is made up of blood, uterus membrane, mucus lining, and bacteria.
While it can sometimes appear to be clotted or darker, such occurrences are completely normal.
Disposable pads should be appropriately wrapped and thrown after a single use.
However, if you are using reusable pads or menstrual cups, soak them with cold water and wash using normal detergent, baking soda, or vinegar.
It is also important to keep them dry. Doing so can avoid infections.
2. “I was told that sticking a washed pad to my face gives me clear skin.”
It is unhygienic, as menstrual waste or products should be disposed of properly.
The methods for getting clear skin will vary depending on a person’s skin type. A healthy and balanced diet can help you be the best version of yourself.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, drink an adequate amount of waterm and exercise at least three times a week.
3. “A tampon will break my hymen.”
Tampons may cause some stretching or tearing of the hymen, but this could also happen when you engage in vigorous activities.
Some women may experience discomfort when inserting a tampon during the first few times. However, it will eventually get better.
4. “I should avoid cold foods or beverages as it will give me heavier flow and period cramps.”
There are no studies to prove or disprove the effects of cold drinks or food on menstrual cramps.
Menstruation is connected to the reproductive system, whereas eating or drinking is linked to the digestive system. These systems function separately, and do not affect one another.
However, some women are sensitive to cold food or drinks, which might increase or induce cramps.
At the end of the day, you should know what your body is used to, and act accordingly.
5. “I used to hide my sanitary products as it is inappropriate and disrespectful to be shown in public.”
Sanitary products are everyday lifestyle items just like tissue and toothpaste, which support and help women feel more comfortable during menstruation.
Every woman should have the freedom to purchase sanitary products without feeling embarrassed about a monthly natural occurrence.