Unwrap the “Secret” of menstruation

Menstruation has been a taboo topic in India. A majority do not want to talk about it, many woman are shamed or treated as untouchables during those days. When a girl begins her first menstrual cycle, she is just shown what to do and wear and that’s about it. I had a workshop in school recently about the menstrual cycle and the girls there had so many questions – Why do we have to sit separately? Why aren’t we allowed to go to the temple? Can we tell our dad if we get it? Why do we have to keep it a secret from males?

Why is it looked down upon?

That got me thinking. The menstrual cycle is a very natural process in a female human. She reaches puberty, hair start growing in places, breasts start growing and then the period. It is a completely normal thing a woman goes through. So then why is it that only the period is shamed? or kept secret? or makes a woman an untouchable? 

It is time we start teaching our children about accepting it as a part of a woman’s life. If we tell our children (boys or girls) from a young age, about the process of menstruation, they will get accustomed to the pubertal changes that happen in a woman and the “secret” would get diluted.

So, after I had finished the workshop and got home, my mother asked me a simple question. ‘How would you start talking about it?’. This may be a question many parents may be stuck with which makes it difficult to initiate the conversation.

So, here are some tips about how to start talking about puberty.

  1. Make the child feel comfortable about this topic. The child should understand that this is a natural process of growing up and there is nothing awkward or embarrassing about it.
  2. Start the conversation on a nice happy day when both of you have time, not when you or your child is stressed about something or in a hurry. Rushing the topic will lead to incomplete information and unanswered questions.
  3. Use scientific terms. Instead of using baby names or slang such as “pee pee” or “hoohaa”, it is better to use scientific words.
  4. If you have a son, explain why it is important for a girl to get her period. Give him details about it because it would help your child to respect a woman more.

(If you have any tips you have used to talk to your child about puberty and menstruation, post in the comment section.)