It was a beautiful summer morning and I was sitting on my bed, with eyes still half shut. I felt something strange under my crumpled bed sheet, something unusual. I could sense something flowing in between my legs. Initially, I thought I peed in my sleep but the bed was not really wet or soaked. Everything felt very uncomfortable suddenly. I carefully opened my bed sheet and there it was a big blot of blood on my bed sheet.
The first person ever to tell me about menstruation was not my mother but one of the novels which I had secretly rented from the school library. I also remember how in school all the girls were made to attend a session on sex education. This was when our teacher called out all the girls and took us to the AV room and showed us a video on menstruation. They showed us a video in the AV room and our teacher explained it in the simplest way possible. She said, “You will all wake up one day and will see blood in your underwear. Don’t be scared because all of us have been there and it’s the nature’s way of saying that your bodies are functioning normally and they are fit to carry babies. It is nothing unnatural, it’s a biological process”. The teachers then asked us about our experience. I had no idea about it. It was my first time looking at what actually goes on when one is on their menstrual cycle.
So that morning, when I woke up and saw some blood in my underwear I was not completely shocked. In fact, I was more curious. I ran towards the washroom to double check if it was blood or something else. And there were drops of blood which had stained my underwear. I ran towards my mother to break the news. I always heard people saying that it’s something to be kept as a secret. But somehow I was very curious and excited to get them. I knew from within that this was meant to happen and as my teacher had said ‘it is the most natural thing’.
My mother told me to go take a shower and just lie down on the bed. In the meantime, she went to the nearest medical store and got me pads. Pads, well I had seen the big fancy advertisements about these things before but never knew how to use them in real life. Mother very carefully explained me everything about them. She told me how to unwrap and how the lay them on my underwear and what to do once they are filled with blood etc.
When I look back now I feel that I was, in fact, lucky to have known about periods beforehand and hence I was mentally prepared for them. But to this day I know a lot of my friends or aunts who won’t talk about it openly. They will shy away from saying the ‘M’ word and instead use various names like periods, chums, aunt flow, that day of the month etc.
It’s a simple biological process just like having sex. Although it’s not an enjoyable experience but it’s what makes female bodies going. Menstruation is a process where every month the female body is preparing itself for pregnancy. If there is no pregnancy the uterus (womb) sheds its lining and blood. This mixture of blood and lining pass through the cervix and are released out of our bodies from the vagina. The menstrual cycle lasts about 3-7 days depending on a person’s weight, height, and various other factors. Usually, different people have different effects because of the cycle. Some people suffer from stomach ache, back aches, cramping, and acne.
I have seen many girls face a lot of trouble because of the cycle. Parents/relatives don’t let the girls do any work or touch anything. In India, and more specifically in Hindu culture a girl can’t go to a temple or worship God or touch any plant. Different regions in the world have different beliefs about what a girl should or should not do during this time.
This is the most natural form of a female body saying to the world that yes my uterus is ready to have a baby. I still don’t understand the reason behind people loving newborn babies, cuddling them, playing with them but shying away from talking about the menstrual cycle. That’s where it all started, right? There is no harm in calling it the menstrual cycle. There is no harm in openly going and asking for pads in a shop. There is no harm in educating others around you about the same. Half knowledge is equal to no knowledge.