Menstruation/periods/monthly, call it what you want, are a task to handle. Here’s a list of some of the numerous troubles women face, just to swamp through a ‘period’ day.
Packing up for a war
It’s no less than a war for a female. She goes through a lot of hormonal ups and downs before the periods are due (PMS .i.e. Premenstrual Syndrome). Once she start’s bleeding, every step, every action, she needs to be cautious about her position, continuously fearing staining. Moreover, having to change sanitary napkins every few hours, popping tablets to contain cramps, choosing a comfortable attire, while maintaining personal hygiene are all increasingly annoying. A study suggested that 70% of women are prone to Reproductive Tract Infection(RTI) due to the usage of unsanitised clothes and prolonged use of tampons or pads. Not just this, but the usage of these napkins for longer duration may lead to cervical cancer. Prolonged exposure to stained pads can cause bacterial growth and infection in the genitalia; plastic in sanitary pads also leads to irritation of sensitive skin.
The saga doesn’t end just here. In order to maintain a regular menstrual flow, women need to take special care of their diet through the month. “It’s hard enough to bear inconvenience 4 days a week, but to have it at the back of your head the rest of the days is also tedious,” says 30-year old Radha Sivaraju, from Hyderabad.
During menstruation, women need rest from daily chores, due to fatigue and cramps, but the busy city life makes it impossible for women to just curl up under a blanket. And since the bleeding makes one feel sticky and sweaty, there is a constant distraction at work. A school or college student may have to manage several field activities like dramas and sports, all of which are inconvenienced by leaking out. One needs to find extra energy and patience to go through the day without bursting into flames.
Plus, due to the pain and gush of estrogen, women have desires to eat chocolates, ice creams, etc. to sooth the travail. Home food tastes bland and unnecessary cravings that may later upset the body occur. A healthy woman will try to control these desires which makes her even more distracted.
Sanitary napkins are used extensively in India as compared to a menstrual cup or tampons. However, 88% of the women in India do not use sanitary napkins. There are two reasons for this; one because pads are expensive and second because buying pads from the chemist is seen as shameful. Now let’s talk about the 12% of the women who use sanitary napkins. They feel there is a huge cost associated with feminine hygiene, a cost that men never have to bear at all. For example;
A packet of Whisper Napkins (8pads) = Rs 80
Average duration of a menstrual cycle = 4 days
2 pads a day = 8 pads per cycle, i.e. Rs 80/month
Therefore, 80×12 = Rs 960 per year
Regular Tampons (pack of 20) = Rs 175
Super tampons for heavy flow (pack of 10) = Rs 110
Assuming you need Super tampons on day 2 only
Day 1 – 2 Regular tampons = Rs 17.5
Day 2- 2 Super tampons = Rs 22
Day 3- 2 Regular tampons = Rs 17.5
Total = Rs 57 per cycle
Therefore, 57×12 = Rs 684
Apart from this, on days of heavy flow or unbearable cramps, it may be difficult for women to travel by public transport. Especially if you’re taking a fast train in Mumbai southward, you’ll be pushed and pinched with no concern. On such occasions, women may prefer to take a taxi to their workplace. So assuming you live at an average distance from work and spend say Rs 100 one way. You’ll end up having an additional expenditure of Rs 200 per day x 4 days = Rs 800 per month. Multiply this with 12 and you’ve got Rs 9600 pa out of your pocket, just like that.
That much money gone from your annual saving is blue when you work 45 hours a week to pay bills.
As women go through a lot of travails during their periods it’s quite obvious to be a little annoyed those days of the month. Rural society is not that acceptable towards women on periods, whereas in most metros speaking of it in public is considered taboo. Sanjana Donkar, 24-year old professional from Bengaluru says, “The side effects along with periods like diarrhea, headaches, and nausea makes it worse. It doesn’t help that women need to travel, focus and be productive. So placing rules that don’t let them even discuss their pain is just ridiculous and inconsiderate.”
It’s a man’s world
Nature has designed the female body different from men, due to which women’s behaviours and actions have been dominated by men for decades. And while women today are considered equivalent to men, household activities are still a woman’s job. They are expected to think practically, emotionally, financially about the family, work, and society, all at the same time. Even when bleeding, women have to be perfect at their home jobs. And all this inevitably takes a toll on their corporate life. They are considered inferior at the workplace. Having no hang-ups 30 days of the month are better odds than only 26 days, which makes men more “eligible” to be promoted. Our society is ingrained with the thought that women will create work issues 4 days a month, which means they have to work that much harder to prove their mettle. It is, after all, a man’s world.