Sunday, April 30, 2017

Banished for Bleeding

This post is inspired by a BBC video, with the same title, posted on FaceBook by a former colleague and friend. The writer is blogging after an absence of a year and the last two posts were on cricket. So this is also an effort to deal with a socially relevant issue.

In India, it is estimated that school girls lose two months of the school annually due to their monthly menses. In parts of Nepal, where this custom has been illegalized since 2005, girls and women are still banished to a cattle shed during menses. Even in the educated urban environment women are shunned for five days during menses as untouchable. They are also excluded from all religious activities and visit to temples. Tied to the ideas of a woman's 'virtue' and 'purity', some religious cultures consider menstruation (a reproductive health element) religiously impure and ceremonially unclean.

The medical definition of menses is the flow of blood that comes from a woman's body each month. Menstruation is caused when the ovaries start to produce female hormones in girls around puberty which cause changes in the lining of the uterus. Every month, during the Period, the lining of the womb is shed, together with some blood. The time between the start of one period and the start of the next is known as the menstrual cycle. The bleeding May last from 2 to 7.days. Menopause, when the menstrual cycle ends, occurs usually between the ages of 45 and 55. So this is all a natural biological function within the female body.

For those who adhere to "natural methods of birth control", the menstrual cycle can be used to achieve pregnancy during periods identified as fertile or to avoid pregnancy during fertile days. Of course, this natural method of birth control which employs unprotected sex, is not as reliable as more modern methods such as IUD, pill or condom.

The point being made here is that it is high time that we, men and women, discard the stigma of menses and consider it as natural a phenomenon as child-birth. The term menses was first used in 1597; let us step out of the 16th century! In fact, in ancient England, the start of a girl's menstruation was called rather glowingly "flowering" and a flowered girl was ready for marriage. Of course we don't want to go that far and condone child marriage.