Welcome to this edition of The Girl’s Guide.
In this post I want to talk about a common topic which is often shyed away from- Menstruation: My personal story and challenges, and a few useful tips.
I hope you find it enlightening.
One Saturday evening in the year I turned 14, I was at home with my mum, younger sister and a relative who was visiting, when I started to experience some cramps in my lower abdomen.
I probably thought it had to do with hunger, because I felt better after we had dinner.
Early the next day while returning from an errand, as I got down from the taxi, a co-passenger told me there was a stain at the back of my skirt- which was so obvious since I was wearing a white skirt (with blue and red stripes).
I wasn’t even embarrassed because I didn’t know how the stain came about.
However, by the time I got home, I proud feel something warm and sticky in my underwear, so I went to the bathroom to check…
And that’s how my menstrual journey began.
Thankfully, a few months before while in school (I was in a boarding house), there was a team that gave us a menstrual hygiene lecture and handed out free packs of ALWAYS sanitary towels.
So that day after having my bath, I used one of the sanitary towels, got dressed and went to church.
No one however prepared me for the physical or psychological stress associated with the package.
I remember one day, I was at my mum’s shop by myself while having my period, I got so stained and had nothing to change with, so I had to make do with some old newspapers. I’m still traumatized by that memory.
Anyway, I resumed to school with some trepidation. How do I cope with my menses every month without embarrassing myself in front of my classmates or teachers?
It took a while to get accustomed to properly discarding used sanitary towels without making a big mess and not getting my house wear or school uniform stained. Still happened more times than I care to remember.
I also suffered from moderate to severe menstrual cramps that often rendered me unproductive for a day or two.
This became the pattern even during my university days.
I can remember instances of staying back in the hostel while my roommates went for lectures because I couldn’t leave my bed. On my worst days, I would have a bloated stomach, diarrhea, and nausea. I would often go without food all day.
Dysmenorrhea was a horrible nightmare.
There was a particular day I asked God to take me home, I was done with this world…lol.
Back then I didn’t use analgesics, but I’m a lot wiser now.
Here are a few things I wish I knew earlier:
1. Menstruation is NOT a taboo.
Although some cultures and religions place restrictions on a menstruating woman, menstruation is not a taboo.
It is simple physiology. As natural as urinating and defecating.
It’s not something to be ashamed about whether in school, at home or at work.
2. Dysmenorrhea is NOT a myth.
If you’ve never ever had menstrual pain in your life, Glory to Jesus!
If you’ve ever had it, even if it was mild, come in here for an e-hug🤗
I’ve come across a few people (fellow women inclusive) who have this ignorant notion that only lazy people experience menstrual pain and that the symptoms are often exaggerated.
If you’re on that particular table, receive sense in Jesus’ name!
Menstrual cramps can be so debilitating that it renders you physically and emotionally unable to go about your daily activities.
3. Increased stress levels can alter your menstrual cycle.
Whether mental or physical, too much stress can delay your period or even make you skip an entire month, which is not a bad thing (unless you’re sexually active and trying NOT to get pregnant hehe…)
4. Sexual activity does NOT cure menstrual cramps.
Unless it’s been scientifically proven, it is simply a myth.
5. Being a Woman is a blessing.
It’s hard not to hate being a woman because of the physical and psychological stress associated with menstruation.
Not many societies make it a priority for menstruating women to stay comfortable by providing the necessary resources for proper menstrual hygiene in office buildings and other public areas.
With a few healthy adjustments to my attitude and lifestyle, my menstrual experience over the years has significantly improved.
||When to see a doctor:
– Menorrhagia: When your menstrual flow is too heavy or the duration is prolonged.
– Amenorrhea: When you unexplainably miss your period for more than 3 months.
– Metrorrhagia: When you bleed inbetween your normal menstrual cycle.
– Oligomenorrhea: When you have infrequent or irregular menstruation.
||On Menstrual Hygiene and Tips To Reduce Menstrual Cramps.
1. Dispose used sanitary towels carefully.
Please do NOT flush down a water closet. Instead wrap it in a plastic bag or an old newspaper and drop it in a thrash can.
2. Wash your underwear (stained or not), preferably with lukewarm water and detergent after every use.
3. Dress smart and walk with confidence.
4. Always go out with extra gear.
Whenever you are menstruating or about to begin your period, don’t forget to take with you a small pouch that contains the necessary items (underwear, sanitary towels etc)
5. Use a hot water bottle to massage your tummy.
6. Keep painkillers handy if you experience menstrual discomfort.
Unless you’re predisposed to peptic ulcer disease or Gastrirtis, NSAIDs are your best bet.
7. Avoid oily diet, soda and caffeine.
8. Have a Menstrual/Ovulation Cycle Tracker.
I use the Flo App and it’s perhaps the best thing that happened since sliced bread.
Would you like to share your Menarche Story?
Please send me an email at email@example.com
Thank you for reading!