Many of the followers of this blog, my friends and relatives who are uncomfortable with discussions related to the ‘bloody matters’ openly, may wonder about the need for me to talk about it on this blog!
I must confess that I haven’t always been this bold about it. In fact, when I was 10, I simply asked my mom to shut up when she tried to explain me about menstruation. Things changed when I moved out of the cozy cocoons of my home to work with Reliance in Mumbai. I was buying sanitary pads myself (without wrapping them in a newspaper or a black plastic bag). Some things still remained unchanged like whispering to female colleagues while asking for a spare sanitary napkin, hiding the sanitary napkin in the jeans pocket while going for a change or even faking mild fever to get a day off due to severe stomach cramps! But in 3-4 years’ time, after moving around in several places, I had ditched the last ounce of ‘shame’ I had in me for this topic and even started talking about menstruation openly with male friends. In hindsight I think I wouldn’t have taken this much time to change, had the topic not got a social taboo attached to it.
Everyone (at least adults) in our society knows about menstruation and understands that it’s a physical process that a woman’s body goes through every month. Menstruation can be a troublesome time for some women, especially the working ones or students. Not being able to talk about it only adds to the overall problem. The traditional and cultural restrictions that are pushed on to the girls in many families are even more problematic. We need to normalize the talk about menstruation in public. It’s time we come to terms with the fact that women are going to menstruate, whether we like to hear/talk about it or not. It’s the collective responsibility of our society to make their life easier, let them educate themselves and ask questions about it, and not add to their difficulties by stigmatizing the natural body processes or by unjustly forcing them into senseless traditions and customs.
Menstrual blood contains nothing but a woman’s unfertilized egg and some tissues that come out with it. Yet, many women consider it impure and hesitate in touching it. The same bloody sanitary napkins then have to be handled by the sanitation workers at the landfills or clogged drains.
Many also don’t realize the entire process of menstruation and the toll it takes on the environment. A menstruating woman in India consumes about 5000 napkins in her reproductive years. The amount of wood pulp used results into decimation of nearly one tree. In addition, the synthetic layers used in just one sanitary napkin equals to the plastics used in 4 carry bags. Then there are also a number of harmful chemicals such as dioxin and bleaching agents involved. Above all these, the very fact that these napkins are not biodegradable itself makes them a huge ecological threat. Read more about ecological impact of menstrual waste here.
Why go for such hazardous practices when there are several eco-friendly, pocket-friendly, more convenient and hygienic options like cloth pads and menstrual cups available to us. Here’s a detailed article on how to ditch disposable napkins and embrace the eco-friendly options. Personally I have been using menstrual cup for 4 years now. I could go back to the same old cup even after delivery. They are super-convenient. I have even played all day long in waterfalls wearing them! I know plenty of women who also use cloth pads and are super satisfied with it. I am ending this post with a couple of resources that would help people explore further on sustainable menstruation:
- Sustainable menstruation in India (Facebook group)
- Every woman’s guide to eco-friendly menstruation
- Museum of menstruation
Note: The post was featured at Blogadda for their Spicy satureday picks 🙂