It’s time to talk openly about menstruation

Menstruation is a natural reproductive process, yet practices and information surrounding it are not widely available and it is often frowned upon to speak about it.

Women on a mission to break the stigma tied to menstruation and share their wisdom about maintaining a healthy moon cycle gathered in Woodstock earlier this month to discuss the many methods and remedies available.

Organisers Rona Mirimi and women’s health and pregnancy consultant Dr Gauri Lowe introduced women to an array of “green” sanitary products available as alternatives to tampons and pads which are not environmentally friendly. From menstrual cups to sea sponges and re-usable pads, many options were on display for various menstrual needs. The Iris Cup, which is a silicone cup, functions like the moon cup, which is twisted and used during menstruation and lasts up to 10 years. This saves a lot of money and reduces sanitary waste.

Some women, such as Dr Lowe, who do not enjoy using the cup, prefer sponges. These are cleaned sea sponges and can be used and rinsed a couple of times before being discarded. Washable material pads made out of organic material are also green options.

“This workshop is the first in South Africa about fertility awareness, and I thought it would be great to spread knowledge about that. We are far behind compared to other countries. You can find menstrual cups in supermarkets in other countries. The pads and tampons contain chemicals and plastics which are not good for the body.

“On TV when they sell pads they always use a blue liquid, why not red when our blood is red? I learned about fertility awareness overseas, here some girls are not going to school because of how society treats women when they’re having their menstruation,” said Ms Mirimi.

She said that what one used could create internal problems, such as excessive bleeding or hormonal imbalance. So it is important to use a suitable sanitary product

“You see so many questions on Facebook about the menstrual cycle. Sometimes you go to your gynaecologist and she writes a prescription, but you’re not told much. It is so easy to check yourself and there is so much we don’t know,” said Ms Mirimi.

Products used during menstruation can be determined according to the height of one’s cervix which changes during menstruation. Other elements to keeping a healthy moon cycle include exercise, which can be done using a yoni egg.

The egg shape precious stone is used to strengthen the pelvic floor and release tension in the pelvic area. The method of exercise has been around for more than 50 years and can be used to tone muscles after childbirth and to assist with prolapse.

Dr Lowe said changing the way menstruation was perceived started with talking about what menstruation actually was, as many women avoid talking about it.

She said that change started with mothers, as education should be from mothers to daughters and sons.