From One Girlboss to Another: What we know—and don’t—about menstruation

Red Days are challenging, but the bigger battle is the stigma and misinformation surrounding it. For Menstrual Health Month, let’s vanquish these harmful period myths once and for all.

Menstruation-- every woman gets them. But despite the fact, there are still so many misconceptions about what happens during that time of the month. While some may be kind of funny (remember being told to jump three steps from the stairs so your period only lasts for three days?), a lot of these mysteries are straight-up harmful. 

Across the world, the Philippines included, periods play a huge part in girls and women missing or dropping out of school, causing them to miss out on opportunities. Taboos and stigmas surrounding periods contribute to that and may even put girls in potentially dangerous situations, like exclusion from everyday spaces or even being forced into solitary confinement.

But every girlboss knows that knowledge is power -- especially when it comes to your body. May 28 is Menstrual Hygiene Day, with the whole month dedicated to helping girls and women who menstruate have access to the products that need and banishing period taboos that can hold them back. In honor of that, we’re getting real about red days and the threats that may come with it.

Myth: Periods are shameful and shouldn’t be talked about.

Because of social and cultural norms, menstruating women are made to feel that periods somehow make them disgraceful or untouchable. So as not to be discriminated against, women have come up with “secret codes” to refer to their period: Aunt Flo, code red, shark week, bisita. A report also shows that 51% can only openly talk about periods with people they are close to, while 12% do not talk about it at all, limiting their access to knowledge and emotional support.
 
The truth is: menstruation is a normal, routine function of a woman’s body. It is most definitely not dirty, so just like any other bodily function, periods don’t need to be talked about like they’re shameful secrets. 

Fact: There is a lack of access to menstrual products.

According to UNWomen.org, 12.8% of women and girls live in poverty worldwide, leaving them with little to no access to menstrual care products. The cost of pads, tampons, feminine wash, and other products leave many girls without ways to manage their monthly periods safely. Some even resort to unhygienic options such as rags, tissue paper, plastic bags, and even newspapers.

Fact: Menstrual hygiene practices impact your health.

During our periods, we face the threat of red day bacteria that make us prone to more itch, odor, and irritation. Unaddressed, this can lead to health problems such as:
 
Bacterial vaginosis, an imbalance in pH levels in your vagina caused by having unprotected sex and with multiple partners, douching, or by not properly disinfecting your feminine areas during red days.
Toxic shock syndrome,or when the natural environment of the vagina is disrupted, usually caused by inserting objects that have substances that may throw off its equilibrium.
Pelvic infection,  or when your vulva is exposed to red day bacteria for too long that it starts crawling up through your vaginal canal and to your pelvic organs.

These risks can be prevented and conquered if women are given access to the right information, emotional support, and period care products. Through the #GirlbossesWearRed campaign, GynePro drives home the message that without these problems to hold them back, girls and women can do anything. This is further amplified during GynePro’s Red Talk Week: a platform that aims to conquer Red Day miseducation, fight lack of access to Red Day care, and vanquish the stigma of Red Day conversations. 

As a girlboss, you can help fight against period stigma among girls and boys through the #MeronAko campaign of the Department of Education. add

Sources:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4488331/ 
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bacterial-vaginosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352279
https://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/multimedia/2019/10/infographic-periods 
https://www.medicinenet.com/bacterial_vaginosis_causes_symptoms_treatment/article.htm 
 


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