Menstruation is inevitably part of a female’s life. Moreover, it signifies a girl’s transition to puberty and into womanhood. However, many young girls have little knowledge what occurs during menstruation. As a result, many young girls are nervous and even embarrassed to talk about it.
Young girls and menstruation
Girls usually have their first menstruation, medically called “menarche”, between 10 and 15 years old. However, it would depend on a girl’s physical development as to which age she will have her first period. If “menarche” happens, that means a girl’s reproductive system has fully matured.
Usually, there are telltale signs that a girl is about to have her first period. For one, menstruation usually starts at least two and a half years after her breasts develop. Moreover, she may also notice an increased amount of clear discharge coming from her vagina.
Technically, there’s no need to worry about it – it’s part of the process. However, if there’s itchiness and strong odor coming from the vagina or the discharge, it is best to consult to consult a doctor to rule out possible medical conditions.
For first timers, it’s natural to feel anxious seeing blood on your underwear. That is why it is important that young girls are assured and educated about this female matter.
Menstrual hygiene management around the world
As mentioned earlier, menstruation is an inevitable part of womanhood. However, many of us do not realize how blessed we are to have adequate facilities and feminine hygiene products to help women deal with their menstruation.
According to a report by The World Bank, “at least 500 million” females, both women and young girls, do not have access to adequate facilities as part of menstrual hygiene management (MHM). More than that, many countries especially in Africa and Asia lack such menstrual hygienic facilities in public places where it is needed the most. These include schools, places of work, and public health centers.
When we say facilities, these include sanitary pads, water to wash hands, clean toilets with locking doors, and disposal areas for sanitary pads. As a result, a lot of women and girls are left to have no “dignifying” ways to maintain their menstrual hygienic routine.
Due to the lack of MHM in their respective areas, many girls choose to drop out or miss school due to their “inability to manage their menstrual hygiene in schools,” the same World Bank report added.
In fact, a separate report from UNESCO revealed that 10 percent of girls in Sub-Saharan Africa miss school during their menstrual days. Since menstruation occurs every month (assuming that a girl has a regular menstrual cycle), just imagine how many classes these girls miss in an entire school year.
The cultural stigma of menstruation
Another challenge young girls and women face in many countries is the cultural stigma of menstruation. Apparently, many cultures consider menstruating girls and women as “dirty”. As a result, they are forced to exclude themselves from other people – even from their immediate families – and other activities during their menstrual period.
Such beliefs not only compromise women and young girls’ overall health, but also lead to general misinformation about menstruation. More alarming is because of this limited information about MHM, many women suffer discrimination and even maltreatment from other people.
With all of the above-given situations, promoting MHM is a must especially in less fortunate countries. MHM is more than just maintaining a proper hygiene. Rather, it also involves giving girls and women a chance to live a life with decency and dignity. More so, MHM is crucial to lessen the number of girls missing school due to their periods, or women living in isolation during their menstrual cycle.
Starting from the basics
To break off the widespread epidemic of misinformation, educating people about menstrual hygienic management is crucial especially among the youth. As adults, it is also our responsibility to teach young girls all about menstruation. In dealing with it, one must be open-minded and should not sugar-coat facts. In other words, set the facts straight and get to the point.
Not only young girls need to be educated about menstruation but also boys and men. Just because they don’t experience this “monthly visitor” does not mean they are already exempted. In fact, it is them that should be more understanding with what girls and women go through every month.
For one, having menstruation is not easy. Most of the time, menstruation comes unexpectedly even if you have a regular cycle. As a result, many women can be caught off-guard and end up staining their underwear, dresses, and pants. More so, many women around the world experience dysmenorrheal cramps along with their period that can affect their schooling or work.
For school girls, it is important to know some basics in dealing with menstruation while at school. Here are some must-haves in your “menstrual kit”: