"I was never able to really talk about my period before I was 30 and that silence impacted my mental and physical health. It all started with my first period. I was barely 11 years old I came back from school. I was still living in a small town in southern Brazil. I rushed to the bathroom because I thought I had just urinated and suddenly I saw blood. I had no idea what was going on in my body, I was scared. My mother had never informed or educated me about this. I called her screaming and she just said, "Ah, you have your period" I couldn't stop crying, I felt a mixture of shame and sadness and my mother handed me a big piece of cotton. I felt like I was wearing a diaper. I remained silent for long hours. It’s the day I became a woman and the memory I have of it is a feeling of shame instead of pride and joy”
London April 14, 2020
Jeisa is not the only woman to have had such a traumatic experience in response to the most natural phenomenon.
More than half of the world's population are menstruating. However, in society, this remains a taboo subject. This unspeakable silence has a direct negative impact on the health of women, and this is the subject that I wanted to talk about today.
On average between 2,555 and 3,000 days in his life, or more than 8 years in total! For too many women, it is as many days to experience an illegitimate feeling of shame or worse, to be victims of discrimination.
Lack of period information
The British Medicine Journal has explored the silence and taboos surrounding the subject of menstruation in poor-developing countries. The results of this study are appalling. In a large majority of these resource-poor countries, and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, women are not sufficiently informed about their periods and their bleeding. As these are "unspoken" subjects, they have no information about what to do or not, including the most basic health reflexes. They lock themselves in a silence that endangers their health.
A source of anxiety, isolation and health risks, they risk very serious infections. Not to mention the hygienic products to which they do not have access. They therefore resort to less conventional solutions which sometimes risk compromising their health. In certain African ethnic groups, for example, young girls use tea towels, sheets, a piece of mattress, or even newspaper.
Periods are culturally "shameful", and some traditions even resort to the archaic system of menstrual exile.
It is this sad fact that inspired Pink Panty to support C4C and thus contribute to education and fight against "menstrual precariousness."
Even in so-called developed countries, periods are still and always a taboo subject. If mothers and fathers speak a little more openly to their daughters, it is almost always a quiet and discreet discussion.
You don't put your tampons on the bathroom shelf, you don't dare complain about period pains. When you change protection at work, you hide it in the palm of your hand ...
This attitude of silent precaution is also very harmful. Indeed, some women suffer for example from bleeding accompanied by pain and dare not tell anyone, yet the diagnosis can be very serious. Others dare not ask a colleague for a tampon and keep it for too long, taking the risk of having a toxic shock.
The taboo of menstruation is a fight not to be taken lightly. There are aid programs that try to break the silence in countries where the subject of rules is totally taboo, such as CARE or REGLES ELEMENTAIRES.
If mentalities are gradually changing in the West, thanks in particular to some Instagram accounts which uncomplicate the subject of periods (@spmtamere), we also all have our share of responsibility for making sure that we speak out!