Menstruation, or a woman’s monthly period, is a natural bodily process that occurs in females of reproductive age. Despite this, menstruation is often a topic that is shrouded in silence and stigma, leading many women to feel ashamed or embarrassed about their periods. In this
blog, we will explore what menstruation is, why it happens, and some common misconceptions and challenges surrounding this important topic.

What is menstruation?

Menstruation is the process of shedding the lining of the uterus, which occurs approximately once a month in women of reproductive age. The menstrual cycle is regulated by hormones, specifically estrogen and progesterone, which cause the lining of the uterus to thicken in preparation for pregnancy. If pregnancy does not occur, the lining is shed through the vagina as blood and other fluids, which is what we commonly refer to as a period.

Why does menstruation happen?

Menstruation is a natural part of the female reproductive cycle, and it occurs as a result of the complex interplay of hormones and physiological processes in the body. The purpose of menstruation is to prepare the uterus for pregnancy, by thickening the lining and creating an environment that is hospitable for a fertilized egg to implant and grow. If pregnancy does not occur, the body sheds the lining of the uterus as blood and other fluids, and the process begins again.

Common misconceptions and challenges

Despite the fact that menstruation is a natural bodily process, there are many misconceptions and challenges surrounding this topic that can make it difficult for women to manage their periods with confidence and ease. Some of the most common misconceptions and challenges include:

1.Stigma and shame: There are a pervasive cultural taboo surrounding menstruation, which can lead women to feel ashamed or embarrassed about their periods. This can make it difficult to talk openly about menstruation, seek medical care or advice, or access menstrual products.

2.Lack of education: Many girls and women do not receive adequate education about menstruation, which can lead to confusion, fear, and misinformation about this important topic. This lack of education can also contribute to stigma and shame
around menstruation.

3.Pain and discomfort: Many women experience pain, discomfort, or other symptoms during their periods, such as cramps, bloating, mood changes, and fatigue. These symptoms can be challenging to manage and can interfere with daily life.

4.Access to menstrual products: Access to affordable and reliable menstrual products, such as pads, tampons, and menstrual cups, can be a challenge for many women. This can lead to discomfort, embarrassment, and even missed school or work days.

5.Period poverty: Period poverty refers to the inability to afford menstrual products or access adequate sanitation and hygiene during menstruation. This can lead to serious health risks and can also impact girls’ education and economic opportunities.

Menstruation is a natural bodily process that is essential for female reproductive health. Despite this, many women face stigma, shame, and other challenges when it comes to managing their periods. By increasing education and awareness about menstruation among men and women, we can help break down barriers and empower women to manage their periods with confidence and ease.

-Contribution by Ishika Shah for RAAY Foundation