Dispelling the myths about menstruation

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In the same way that human beings eat, drink and breathe, women  with a typical healthy reproductive system menstruate for a large section of their lives. It is a normal and natural process. A young woman can get her first period anywhere between 10 and 16 years of age. Delayed onset of menstruation is rare and the process is so normal and that if a girl hasn’t started rolling by the age of 16, it is advisable for her to see a gynecologist.

With the advent of menses comes the very basic need of sanitary towels and feminine hygiene products. They are not only necessary, but essential. Lack of these resources will render a young woman incapable of doing normal, daily activities. She will not be able to move around freely in fear of exposing her staining let alone attending school. Unfortunately, 42% of young Kenyan women have no access to regular sanitary towels. This means missing out on school every time they have their period, as such menstruation causes Kenyan adolescent girls to lose an average of 3.5 million learning days per month. Worse still, research shows that one in 10 African adolescent girls miss school during menses and eventually drop out because of menstruation-related issues.

Due to the stigma associated with periods young girls in rural Kenya feel insecure during menses. They are constantly worried that they may leak through their clothes or emit an odor, so they choose to sit in the back of their classrooms and feel greatly embarrassed. This basically means that these innocent youngsters feel ashamed of themselves, a state that may lead to self-esteem issues, stress and unwarranted episodes of depression. No human being should ever have to feel ashamed of themselves as a person, over something they feel they have absolutely no control over.

In most households, the topic of menses is usually kept under hushed tones, spoken only in restrained whispers as though it were a secret. Yet women all over the world experience it. Sadly in some of our African cultures and religious beliefs, girls are considered unclean during the menstruation period. The menstruation period is even considered a curse in others. These are deceitful myths that need to be dispelled, rather than overlooked.

That is why it is important to educate the society about this issue. The young girls should be taught about menstruation, their reproductive health questions answered and the hygiene processes that should come with it talked about. Just as well, those false messages that are carried should be eliminated, such that these ladies are armed only with facts, and feel no reason to be ashamed. The rest of the society should also be educated, so that they may not perpetuate false myths and beliefs about menstruation.

It is with all these facts in mind that Always initiated the Stand Up campaign. The campaign highlights all the above mentioned pertinent issues, allowing this very important topic to come to light, such that we as a society may try to find a solution. The campaign aims to empower young girls and women, to remind them of all their great capabilities, encourage them to stand up for what they believe in, and go after their dreams despite the obstacles the

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