PRINCETON, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--With over 70% of women admitting they’ve hidden their menstrual products when going to the bathroom, and close to 60% of women feeling embarrassment or shame when they get their periods, menstrual hygiene advocacy and education for women and girls is crucial. May 28th is Menstrual Hygiene Day, highlighting the importance of good menstrual hygiene, access to menstrual supplies, and the eradication of period stigma.
“Getting a period is a rite of passage for most women and marks the start of the reproductive phase of life,” says Maria Sophocles, MD, OB/GYN at Women’s Healthcare of Princeton in New Jersey. “Unfortunately, from a young age, women feel shame and stigma surrounding menstruation. Instead of embracing this natural part of life, women are embarrassed, and not always equipped with the right information about how to address their needs. When women better understand their menstrual cycle, they feel less embarrassment and are better able to deal with issues relating to reproductive health.”
Dr. Sophocles emphasizes the following information to help women reclaim power over their period:
- Know the ins and outs of a period: Most women know that the typical menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, but many aren’t aware that a cycle length can vary 2-8 days from that number. If you talk to friends about their periods, you’ll notice that every woman has a unique menstrual experience -- from cycle length, to symptoms.
- Periods are good for your health: Ovulation is when an egg is released from the ovaries and travels through the fallopian tube, waiting to be fertilized. When this doesn’t happen, the uterine lining sheds, causing a period. Period blood is fairly acidic and can sometimes cause a vaginal pH imbalance which can result in odor or discomfort. If the odor is socially bothersome, consider RepHresh vaginal gel, to keep pH balanced and reduce odor after your period ends.
- Know the signs of a period (or a missed one): Pre-menstrual symptoms are caused by a drop in estrogen levels. The most common symptoms are breast tenderness, bloating, and food cravings. Such symptoms are similar to those in early pregnancy. Be cognizant of using birth control correctly, and if in doubt, use a reliable pregnancy test such as First Response to know 6 days before a missed period if you’re pregnant.
- Don’t freak if you miss a period: Periods can sometimes be unpredictable or appear in an untimely event. A lot of people are seeing that their cycles have changed during the pandemic. Stress can cause your period to be delayed by up to a few weeks! Note: if you have an absence of a period for over a few months, it could be that you are pregnant, or have another underlying issue.
- Get involved in period advocacy: If you have access to menstrual health products like pads and tampons, or even running water, you’re at a higher advantage than 2.3 billion people. Combined with stigma and shame, the inability to access feminine hygiene products hinders the future of girls around the world. Consider donating menstrual hygiene products to women’s shelters, and joining a movement, like Period.
“This is a challenging time for everyone. Taking care of yourself allows you to be your best self and better able to help others,” adds Sophocles. “Embrace your period and stand up for others who may not have the access to maintain proper period hygiene. You may find you’ll be more in tune with your reproductive health, and ready to face any challenge that comes your way.”