How Lack of Menstrual Education Fuels Stigma Around It

Stigmatization around menstruation has been prevalent for ages. Lack of menstrual education can add fuel to this stigma and we need to break the cycle. In many parts of the world, menstruation has a stigma associated with it. Many women relate their period with feelings of shame, discomfort and secrecy due to a societal pressure not to talk about menstruation. Menstruation is still viewed as an uncomfortable, taboo topic even though a quarter of the world experiences it every month. These stigmas have been passed down through generations, intertwining themselves in the culture of society.

Without proper education regarding menstruation, this stigma will continue, further fuelling period poverty. These misconceptions and harmful ideas surrounding menstruation that originated years and years ago will continue to remain prevalent in the conversation surrounding menstruation. These conceptions have been ingrained in society to the point where active learning and discussion about menstruation is required to reverse the stigma around periods and menstruation. It is integral to manage one’s period hygienically and safely. However, the stigma and secrecy surrounding menstruation leads to a lack of conversation and understanding about periods.

A survey done by The United Nations found that many girls do not have a complete and accurate understanding of menstruation.  Education is important for girls to correctly manage their menstrual hygiene. When getting their first period, it is important that girls are in a position where they understand what a period is, why they get a period and that they have access to the resources to manage their periods properly. Mismanagement of periods can lead to many health complications. General abdominal discomfort, cramping or soreness may occur. In more extreme cases, infections, such as yeast or urinary tract infections may occur. These health complications may make these women more prone to infertility. 

Lack of education and understanding can be physically harmful for girls and women who are menstruating. Unsafe and improper methods may be passed down through generations. Girls may choose to use hygiene alternatives and ways of management that are not clean or safe for themselves such as using unclean cloths or leaving tampons in for too long. Clothes should be washed and cleaned properly to avoid infection. However, they are often used dirty as girls are embarrassed to wash and hang them properly due to the secrecy and shame surrounding menstruation, especially in underdeveloped nations.

We at ZamZam Foundation Inc. hold workshops in underprivileged areas to promote menstrual hygiene, break the taboo and discuss how to correctly use and dispose of pads and other menstrual products. We aim to educate girls and women in underserved areas about menstrual hygiene and its importance. We also hold workshops in more urban areas to shift the focus onto sustainable menstruation practices. While women in urban areas may have access to menstruation products and more knowledge, The Jute Pad Project aims to expose them to the dangers of utilizing products with plastics and chemicals within traditional menstrual pads. The Jute Pad Project strives to educate women about eco-friendly menstrual hygiene solutions and the significance of these on their health and the environment. We hope to play a part in breaking a dangerous stigma that has a harmful impact on the lives of many girls around the world. 

Menstrual education is extremely important in order to break the cycle of this harmful stigma deeply ingrained in society. Furthermore, it is important to educate women to manage their menstrual cycles in a way that is safe and hygienic. Menstrual education will play a role in reducing period poverty as education is the first step to emphasizing the importance of proper facilities and products to manage one’s period and the importance of doing so. Things are definitely changing, slowly. People’s attitudes have shifted to being more open to conversation about menstruation but there is still so much work to be done.

We encourage you to be open and honest when talking about your menstrual cycle to inspire education and action!

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