The Crimson Moon, The Taboo, The Neglect and a Taint Free You!

Soniya Nikam, MS, RD.

Soniya Nikam, MS, RD.

Nutrition Consultant, Content Lead & Editor of DawaiBox Health Reads at DawaiBox
She is a Registered Dietitian who does not believe in dieting; She has a Master's Degree in Nutrition but she is not your "I know it all Nutrition Guru!"; She loves food but loves talking about food even more. Her articles are a direct reflection of her personal quest where nutrition science meets real life! Oh, and she is owned by a 3 m.o. naughty kitten 🙂
Soniya Nikam, MS, RD.
“Periods”, “Chums”, “That time of the month”, instead of calling it by any of these names, why did we call it the Red Moon again? Well, what can I say; lately I have been under a terrible spell cast by a man named Sampooran Singh Kalra (Gulzaar), a spell that is making me see “Chaand” everywhere!

Also, maybe because to me somehow a woman resembles the moon. She is bright, beautiful, extremely influential but at the same time also very very vulnerable. Like a waxing and waning moon, her moods and hormones change every single day of the cycle! Doesn’t a women’s reproductive cycle resembles the lunar cycle to you? It does to me! I don’t know if it is true or a myth, but as a child, I once heard of Chandra-Rog (Moon Madness!). In which the affected people exhibit different degrees of emotional instability as the moon waxes and wanes. I even know of some people whom I truly believe (till this date) that they are suffering from this Moon Madness as every single time they throw the biggest fit, it just happens to be on a full moon or a new moon!

Talking about the Moon and the Madness, why don’t we talk more freely about Periods? In a country where neither buyers nor sellers feel the need to hide the goods when the cigarette, alcohol and now even condoms (thankfully) are involved; why are we still giving and receiving sanitary napkins gift wrapped in yesterday’s news?

What are we so ashamed of? Are we trying to “protect” the sanctity of a mere cotton pad? Or are we really still trying to hide that, maybe…just maybe our daughters and sisters are menstruating! That they are coming of age…

Since when menstruation became a Taboo in this country where a girl coming of age used to be celebrated? The practice/pratha still exists in some parts of the country but then again so does the practice of associating menstruation with embarrassment!

Who was the first person that gave you your first ever “Period Talk”?

Two daughters one 12 years old and other 8. Father and mother both working. Mom is a teacher, she would always be absent in the mornings as her school would hold morning sessions. As a result dad would always be the one feeding, bathing, clothing, doing hair braids, and cleaning after the kids and sending them off to the school before he himself could leave for the work :)… One fateful day however, while sorting through the kids dirty laundry, he notices a fresh blood stain on the 12 year old’s petticoat! Remember we are in the pre-cell phone era here (he can not send mom a SOS text). We are in an era where sanitary napkins are still a novelty. What the dad does next is truly unlike what fathers his generation would do. He takes one of his clean baniyan, tears it off and makes a cotton cloth napkin out of it and gives it to the kiddo. He tells her where to place it and how. As trusting and obedient the child is, knowing that the dad would never tell her anything wrong, she follows the instructions. Afterwards while braiding the hair, dad very gently explains the scared and confused kiddo what is happening to her. He tells her that it is very normal, that it happens to all girls, that it happened to mom too! Then he tells her the story of Shiva-Parvati and how important this phenomenon of menstruation is! That if not for the menstruation and the bleeding, the mankind would not exist. He told her that she too (like Parvati) holds the power of recreation…

Have you had a “period talk” with your girl child yet? And how about with your son or your husband yet? What are you waiting for, have that talk with him as well as one day he too will become a father…

Need little visual aid with the explanation? Here is a great educational video-

Now the lack of awareness and lack of openness about menstruation are not the only issue we face. A meta-analysis of over 180 studies in past 15 years [1] show that in India-

  • about 50% of adolescent girls are unaware of the cause of the menses.
  • Only 25% of adolescent girls know that the bleeding is coming from the uterus.
  • Only 1 in 8 girls faces no restrictions at all during the period days.
  • 25% of girls are still missing school on those days due to cramps or to avoid the shame of a stain being spotted

And again, I don’t have a study to quote here but I am pretty sure almost 99% of schools in India do not do menstruation ed! (If I am wrong, which I would love to be in this case, let me know down below in the comment section).

Also noted was the fact that rural India still prefers cloth napkins over pad which is good and bad both. Good in the sense that it is more eco-friendly. And bad because the washing could be improper due to the well-known scarcity of water in rural areas, and drying under the sunlight does not always happen (clothes are mostly dried indoors and in dampened places, so to keep them out of anyone’s sight).

India is changing thought. Usage of sanitary napkins is becoming quite a norm everywhere which brings us close to an alarming issue. What do we do with the non-biodegradable pads? Potentially 9000 tons of waste per annum, how do we dispose of them? Is there any better or eco-friendlier option out there?

Have you all heard of the Menstrual Cup?

Yulia Grigoryeva/Shutterstock

Yes, a reusable latex cup that is placed by insertion(much like a tampon) that collects the menstrual fluid (which you can discard every 12 hours, then clean the cup with warm water and reinsert). If used properly, one cup can last you about 5 years.

But again, there is a LOT of stigma around using  products and the fear of it breaking the hymen. An unfounded fear if I may add. So for the skepticists,

Have you heard of Reusable Sanitary Pads?

 Yes, these are a real deal. Sanitary pads that you can wash, dry and reuse for as long as 5 years! These are available mostly online. And they might seem little expensive but trust me on this that it will cost you less than what you will be spending on 3 months of sanitary pads supply

Now now, do we still have any excuse to not be mindful of our menstrual hygiene as well as of our environment?

As women, we have so many stressful things happening to and within us as it is, then why do we need the added stress of the stigma and the stains? As human beings (that evolved from primates), it is our evolutionary duty to better ourselves and lead a better life.

So, ladies, let us break the stigma. Next time someone wraps the pack of pads for you, I dare you to say “No thank you😉”

For more information on all things Menstruation and Menstrual Health Management (MHM) visit http://menstrualhygieneday.org/

Team DawaiBox wishes you a Happy Menstrual Hygiene day.

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Soniya Nikam, MS, RD.
She is a Registered Dietitian who does not believe in dieting; She has a Master’s Degree in Nutrition but she is not your “I know it all Nutrition Guru!”; She loves food but loves talking about food even more. Her articles are a direct reflection of her personal quest where nutrition science meets real life! Oh, and she is owned by a 3 m.o. naughty kitten 🙂
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Soniya Nikam, MS, RD.

Soniya Nikam, MS, RD.

She is a Registered Dietitian who does not believe in dieting; She has a Master's Degree in Nutrition but she is not your "I know it all Nutrition Guru!"; She loves food but loves talking about food even more. Her articles are a direct reflection of her personal quest where nutrition science meets real life! Oh, and she is owned by a 3 m.o. naughty kitten :)

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