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The bloody truth

Why women need to start talking about their periods.

Samantha Lokey, Chief Editor

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Menstruation is a simple fact of life for half of the world’s population; a biological process that reflects reproductive health. Despite its constancy, menstruation remains a taboo subject across the map. People globally experience a variety of struggles due to period shaming, and product cost, severity depending where they reside. In the ever-lasting battle for equality, activists wonder, what is the next step? It is time for women to speak openly about their periods.  

The average woman menstruates for approximately 35 years, the actual time of menstruation adding up to seven years. For many globally, this is a major setback in their education and career (CNN). A study conducted by Always (a menstrual-hygiene product company) found that seven percent of girls aged 10 to 18 in the U.K. stayed home from school due to not having access to menstrual products. The education of these young women is stunted each month, simply because they are unable to access the tools necessary to care for themselves (TeenVogue).  

In India, a 12 percent tax was imposed on pads in 2017, making period products even more expensive than before. Women turn to hazardous alternatives such as using cloth, newspaper, wood shavings, and even ash in order to go about their daily lives somewhat comfortably. As many as one in four young women in India do not attend school while menstruating. In the U.S., one of the most developed countries in the world, these products are taxed as a luxury item, unlike food and medicine. As a result, 26.4 million people cannot afford period products in the U.S. alone (Bustle).   

In order to move forward, we must be conscious of our fellow women across the nations who struggle for fair treatment and proper hygiene while menstruating. There are multiple organizations that work to provide products worldwide, such as A Woman’s Worth Inc., a nonprofit which works to create hygiene solutions for all people who menstruate. Days for Girls, another nonprofit, is working towards providing affordable products and health education to all. By donating to organizations such as these, more young people are given the opportunity to achieve a well-rounded education while maintaining their health. 

Not only is product cost a concern, poor treatment of people while on their periods is a cause worth fighting. Outlawed only a year ago in Nepal, a practice known as “Chhaupadi,” called for a woman to be banished to a shed while on her period due to the belief that she became “impure” while menstruating. Shockingly, this put many women in danger of disease, rape, and even death.  

In many instances, misconceptions about periods are perpetrated by the taboo nature of them. For instance, during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Chinese swimmer, Fu Yuanhui , announced she was on her period while competing. This came as a surprise to many of her supporters back home, as many believed a woman is unable to swim while menstruating. Blood collection methods such as tampons are rare in China, as only two percent of the population uses them. Many mistakenly believe that when a tampon is used, a woman runs the risk of breaking her hymen, and she will no longer be considered a virgin (TeenVogue).  

As young people begin their menstrual cycles, they are immediately introduced to the stigmas that surround it. They will be the next generation in charge of standing up for women in need, so it is important they are educated and comfortable talking about menstruation. Supporting organizations that provide period education will give people globally a platform to stand up against the period taboo. As we break social and educational barriers, change will likely occur in a positive direction. Misconceptions and assumptions of a woman’s behavior and body should be quashed. The idea that every person is “irritable” on her period puts them in a box and shames them for a natural bodily function. The many odd lures and myths about periods will fade with time if it is made clear to all that women are still people on their periods and should be treated with equal respect as any. According to CNN, 26 percent of the population is of reproductive age. This 26 percent must be heard, educated, and respected.  

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The bloody truth