Painful menstrual cycles shouldn’t be the norm
For ages, women have been excluded from many aspects of socio-cultural life because of the taboos and myths that surround menstruation. It affects women’s emotional state, lifestyle mental health, and physical health. The exclusion of women from the “man’s world” stems from the myths and stigma attached to menstruation. Often a woman’s potential and capability is doubted because she bleeds. Whether it is running for political office or being taken seriously at home, women always have “crazy times” or “that time of the month” stamp they have to deal with.
A lot of women complain about having mood swings, severe cramps and it could be physically debilitating for many women. They take days off from work, but the truth of the matter is that periods are a very natural function of the female reproductive system.
The challenge of addressing the socio-cultural taboos and beliefs in menstruation is compounded by limited knowledge and understanding of puberty, menstruation and reproductive health. In India the mere mention of the word is a taboo, this social belief appears to be a hurdle in the advancement of knowledge on the subject. As members of modern, developing society everyone should fight against the misconstrued reality and bitter truths that surrounds menstruating women.
Painful periods have been highly normalized in the past years. Women experience cramps in their lower abdomen and back, ranging from mild throbs to severe aches. The reason for period pain is prostaglandins, chemicals that uterus’ tissue lining produce to help the uterus contract during the menstruation cycle. Varying levels of prostaglandin production in the body determines the intensity of the pain. However, sometimes these painful menstruations can be a symptom of endometriosis. Lack of medical attention in these cases can lead to serious health risks in women. 1 in 10 women is affected by endometriosis during their reproductive years and has been estimated to affect 200 million women across the globe. This primarily happens because of the lack of awareness about it.
Dysmenorrhea is often mistaken as a regular side-effect of menstruation. Women usually take pain-killers to relieve themselves of the pain. Women often don’t realize the severity of the situation until it is too late. Therefore it is very important for women and health professionals to build open communication platforms and improve awareness around painful menstrual cramps. The taboo of being the silent and non-addressable state of menstruation is one of the main reasons why women themselves are not aware of painful period cramps. Therefore it is dismissed as a normal occurrence.
According to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom and justice. People talk about equality and fairness, yet something as natural as menstruation is kept under a veil. This secrecy violets the dignity and respect of women and hurts their identity, self-worth, and self-esteem. Menstruation is a normal physiological process, and in order to progress and combat the problems associated with it, it should be treated as such.