Don't hide health: menstruation marches down an unhealthy path
The menstruation period’s definition is the process in a person with uterus and ovaries discharging blood and other materials from the lining of the uterus at intervals of about one lunar month from puberty until menopause, except during pregnancy.
In many cultures, talking about the menstruation process is often taboo, either discussed in secret or not discussed at all. For example, in China, many students are compelled to hide their menstruation products when they ask the teacher for a bathroom break. For this reason, people are often uneducated about the effect of menstruation on the human body, making some wrong assumptions. The discussion on menstruation is not only essential for those with menstruation to have a better idea of healthy choices to make during their periods but is also an important conversation in breaking down barriers. Also, contrary to popular belief, period blood is not more dirty than normal blood; it contains blood, uterine tissue, mucus lining, bacteria, and nothing else. However, it is important to make sure the used menstrual products are wrapped properly before being thrown into the trash.
According to the National Health Service (NHS), certain symptoms occur in some people before their menstrual cycle, known as PMS (premenstrual syndrome). It is when a person has mood and body changes before or during their period. The cause of PMS is still unknown, yet theories connect it to the changes in hormones during the menstrual cycle. Those symptoms include:
spotty skin or greasy hair
loss of interest in sex
These symptoms usually improve when the period starts and disappear a few days afterward. Not all people who have periods get PMS; the symptoms vary greatly within different individuals, some may only get a few cramps here and there, while others may get so much pain from their periods that they are forced to stay in bed. Therefore, it is incorrect to assume that certain people would be able to “tough it out” during their periods because others seem to take their periods easier.
Here are some products that are used during periods, some health suggestions for using those products, as well as some myths about those products.
Sanitary pads: the most commonly used product. They are attached to the inside of the user’s underwear and work by absorbing menstrual blood through layers of absorbent material—usually rayon, cotton, and plastic. However, just as with any other product, the quality and price of those pads vary. Although they tend not to get too pricy, they can cause financial problems due to the requirement to purchase more sanitary pads every few months. They can also strain the environment because they are generally not biodegradable or reusable.
Tampons: Another very popular product when it comes to dealing with menstruation. They are usually small cotton tubes with a plastic inserter around them. To use them, you usually insert the tube into the vaginal canal and pull the plastic part out while letting the cotton part sit in the canal, absorbing blood. There is a possibility of leakage and risk of getting Toxic Shock Syndrome, a rare but life-threatening condition caused by bacteria getting into the body and releasing harmful toxins. Another thing to notice is that they are also not biodegradable or reusable.
Also, a popular myth is that tampons will take a woman’s virginity. As Peggy put in her talk during October, virginity is only a definition for each person and doesn’t have a special implication, such as purity.
Menstrual cup: This works similarly to tampons, yet instead of absorbing blood, the cup collects blood. Therefore, people using it must remove, empty, rinse, and re-use it as necessary. It takes some practice to fold and insert the small silicon or latex cup, but it would be comfortable afterward. Moreover, since it could be reused for as long as years, it is definitely a lot more environmentally friendly.
Period underwear: They are normal underwear with special absorbent layers built within them and another layer that prevents blood from flowing onto other clothes. They are usually more expensive, but since they work like normal underwear, they are probably the most efficient.