It was another school day, and Taye was getting ready for school as usual when she suddenly felt a sharp pain in her abdomen, that increased with each passing minute and she felt wetness with it. She called out for mum as this was a new situation she didn’t understand.
Mum had her take her bath and line her panties with a sanitary pad as she explained to her that she was having her period also known as menstruation, where unfertilized eggs released from the uterus get shed as blood and tissues.
Mum taught her that every woman experiences her period monthly, after an ovulation period of 28 days though the number of days can vary for all women. Ovulation is the body’s way of preparing eggs for fertilization, which when it doesn’t happen causes the eggs to be shed from the uterus, menstruation starts at the age of 15 till menopause.
Taye’s mom told her about the steps to keep her body clean during this monthly flow as it is a thing of dignity and shouldn’t be treated with shame or fear. Taye was to wash her body three times a day, use comfortable pads and dispose of them properly, change her pads regularly between 6-8 hours and not to use soaps directly on her vagina. Mum told Taye to watch out for signs that the body gives, to alert her to the start of her period. Some of these signs are backaches, abdominal pain, breasts tenderness,fatigue.
Do remember, said mum that menstruation is a natural occurrence for females only, from ages 15 years and above, it is when the uterus sheds blood and tissue from unfertilized eggs, menstrual hygiene Is how to stay clean during one’s period by bathing regularly and using pads that are comfortable, and proper disposal. Ovulation Begins the process of monthly cycle as it releases eggs from the ovaries to either get fertilized or shed off.
Research conducted by Stellenbosch University has found that an estimated 30% of girls in South Africa do not attend school while they are menstruating because they cannot afford sanitary products.
Basic knowledge such as this should be taught to all young girls especially those in the rural areas who most times have misconstrued theories about periods. A period should end a sentence not a girls education, this quote is as a result of recurring events in low income settings where most menstruators cannot afford sanitary towels and have to result to using cloths, rags newspaper scrapings, or just sitting at home to avoid the stigmatization that comes from such situations. The combination of period property ( which is the inability to purchase sanitary towels and receive health care during a menstrual cycle) and the lack of complete orientation about puberty and sexual health, makes it so that most of these girls are thrown into situations they barely understand.
Pad Drives are been run by volunteers throughout the world, and girls are getting desensitized about the stigma around menstrual cycle. Though efforts are being made to combat period poverty, there is still a lot of work to be done and more volunteering to cover especially in the area of donating pads to areas that can’t afford it.