Menstruation: What is it all about
It is the process in which a woman discharges blood and other material from the lining of the uterus at intervals of about one lunar month from puberty until the menopause, except during pregnancy.
When does Periods Start:
Most girls start to menstruate between ages 10 and 15 years. The average age is 12, but every girl’s body has its own schedule. Although there’s no one right age for a girl to get her period, there are some clues that menstruation will start soon.
According to a review carried out by CHIFA( Child Health and rights), shows that substantial numbers of girls in many countries have knowledge gaps and misconceptions about menstruation. This leaves them unprepared when they reach menarche that can lead to fear and anxiety. Girls commonly experience a variety of symptoms during menstruation (e.g., severe pain, headaches, fatigue).These symptoms combined with taboos result in their not being able to participate in household, school, social, and religious activities.
Girls in poor urban and rural communities face barriers to obtaining and using sanitary pads.In Cameroon especially most young girls use materials made at home with scraps of old cloth, cotton, paper, etc. Lack of privacy, access to clean water and functional toilets make it harder for them to manage their periods.
So What can be done to help manage this situation!
-Parents and Guardians especially Mothers must recognize that lack of preparation, knowledge and poor practices surrounding menstruation are key Handicaps not only to girls’ education, but also to self-confidence and personal development.
-In addition to building private latrines with clean water for girls at home and in Schools, Parents, Guardians and the community at large must consider how to improve the provision of knowledge and understanding and how to better respond to the needs of adolescent girls.
CHIFA on a study of over 80 journal articles from a number of low and middle income countries confirmed that:
-Many adolescent girls start their periods uninformed and unprepared
-Mothers are the primary source of information, but they inform girls too-little and too-late and often communicate their own misconceptions
-Because menstruation is widely seen as polluting and shameful, girls are often excluded and shamed in their homes and in their communities
-Many do not have the means for self-care and do not get the support they need when they face problems, which hinders their ability to carry on with everyday activities and may also establish a foundation for life-long dis-empowerment.
Based on my experience as a Girl advocate, Girls Rather no talk about Menstruation because they feel very shy talking about it and because the society and community in which they grew up made them understand that it is a taboo. My mum told me its a taboo to talk about menstruation at home. So I only grew up to learn on my own since I was not allowed to mention it anywhere; says Alima a 16year old girl in the Girls corner empowerment Program.