Menstruation. Period. Regla. Mens. “That time of the month.”
If you’re a woman, you’re no stranger to these terms. In fact, you might’ve cringed seeing these words. Anything that reminds you of that “unwelcome monthly visitor” is enough to make you (and your uterus) cringe.
But should that be the case?
Fortunately, someone stepped up to the plate and talked about periods.
With the goal of beating menstruation-related myths and misconceptions, the Philippine Commission on Women, in collaboration with the Department of Health, organized an event called #MenstruationMatters: A Forum on Menstrual Hygiene on May 26, 2017. The objective of the seminar was to enlighten women of all ages about the beauty of menstruation while debunking the myths surrounding the subject.
Here at Modern Filipina, we believe this natural cycle is beautiful, and with the seminar’s help, we’re dishing out the need-to-knows.
It’s time we all talk about our periods.
The Period Shaming Should Stop
Menstruation, despite being part of our daily lives, is not a big subject in homes, schools, or even in social circles. According to Cecile B. Guttierez, the Deputy Executive Director of the Philippine Commission on Women, it is the least discussed topic in Filipino homes. Nobody wants to talk about it casually, she says, and is also often “concealed from the public eye.”
“It’s as if menstruation is a communicable disease no one wants to talk about…a punishment to women…or a laughing matter to groups or cliques.”
There’s nothing wrong with menstruation — in fact, it matters.
Myths To Debunk
Due to the social stigma that comes with menstruation, some topics remain ambiguous because only a few are willing to talk about it. As a result, some women believe in menstruation myths that hamper their way of dealing with the monthly visitor.
#MenstruationMatters speaker Dr. Natasha Esteban of the Philippine General Hospital breaks the vicious cycle of menstrual taboos. Do you believe in the following?
Menstruating girls are dirty or impure
For Dr. Esteban, there’s nothing weird about menstruation, but the misinformation creates a stigma against women. In some countries, they cannot enter worship temples and must sleep outside in “menstrual huts.” The PH is no different; she cited a UNICEF study in Masbate and Metro Manila that reported girls experiencing stress and shame due to lack of menstrual knowledge.
To resolve the problem, the government continues to spearhead projects that provide information and resources for schools. Since information is power, these projects aim to reduce the stigma by giving out free resources.
When you get your period for the first time, jump up and down three times or down three steps
According to this old tradition, when you do this, your period will last for only three days. But is that the case?
A girl’s first period is called menarche and while this is a special event, girls have no control over the duration of their period. This applies to both first-timers and veteran period warriors. Regular menstruation periods last from 3 to 5 days, but in some cases, it can last for 2 to 7 days.
Bathing during your period will increase your flow, cause infertility or insanity
FALSE in all aspects (and somewhat crazy). Taking a bath will not sabotage your period or sanity.
According to Dr. Esteban, baths are important when you are on your period. Bathing during your period is safe and necessary; it keeps you extra clean and can also relieve some cramps (when you take a hot bath).
You should ALWAYS use douche and “vaginal washes”
Your vagina benefits a lot from the consistent cleaning, but remember, this special organ also has its own self-cleaning mechanism. While external cleaning agents are helpful, Dr. Esteban discourages using deodorants or soaps inside the vagina.
So how should you clean it?
Dr. Esteban listed down three steps:
- Wash the genital area with plain water (no soap) at least once a day
- Always clean from front to back (vagina then anus)
- Keep the area between the legs dry
- Don’t exercise or lift anything heavy to prevent heavy flow — there is no relation between your period flow and your exercise regimen. Dr. Esteban adds that if you feel like exercising while menstruating, go for it. Working out on your period is a great way to control PMS symptoms. She recommends swimming to get rid of those pesky cramps.
But can you swim on your period?
YES, YOU CAN. Dr. Esteban recommends using a tampon for a more comfortable swim, but you can also use pads.
Menstruation is troublesome, but it’s what makes women beautiful. This natural biological cycle is what sets us apart from our male counterparts. Instead of hating on it every day, it’s best to learn more about your period to gain a better appreciation of your mens, regla, or monthly bisita.
Want to learn more about periods? Check out the links below for the #MenstruationMatter videos: