HappyFlow Moday: Uncomfortable conversations – menstrual stigma

Charles Okoth

Happy flow – involving men in menstruation.

This has not been a matter that has previously been taken with the heavy weight that it deserves. I feel that, we as men today, can do better to upscale on how we approach and handle the people who menstruate when they undergo their menses.  We need to come to a consensus that menstruation is a natural thing and that particular attention needs to be paid to stamping out the stigma associated with it. Much care needs to be taken to ensure all the necessities needed to have a happy flow are in place, as it’s something that we are all aware of.  I feel we should join arms to help those who menstruate to rise above all the odds in our culture, as well as to address the need to keep our moms, sisters and daughters safe during the period in which they undergo menses. As a way forward, I feel it should be included in our youth and gender ministry that it’s a person’s right to have all the necessities supplied to school-going adolescents, as well as to encourage mobilization of their parents to get them enriched with the knowledge needed to stamp out stigma. Health organizations in all sectors and countries need to offer public participation, and also need to ensure that these services are accessible, affordable and sustainable as per the Alma-Ata Convention.  My fellow youths – let’s rise up in one accord to see the change we want to see to amend to the indignity of menstrual stigma.

 

Thabisani Ncube

Uncomfortable conversations which many men are still not prepared to have include talking about periods, premenstrual symptoms and unintended pregnancies: True or False?

As an adult, I have increasingly realised that both men and women are typically still operating with whatever they remember from the biology or integrated science class (if it wasn’t crammed knowledge to use in the moment for that pass mark). Those who have been fortunate to have sex education classes rolled out in their curriculum will vouch for me that most sex-educators/teachers who are more theoretical in their approach emphasize two practical points, with the goal of preventing unintended pregnancies:

*Having a period means a girl or woman can get pregnant.
*Having sex leads to pregnancy.

This knowledge gap doesn’t usually close until later in life when cycle-specifics become important. This can happen when a couple is actively trying to have a baby, when pregnancy doesn’t come easily, or when a partner develops a medical condition that affects their menstrual cycle.

I decided this week as we seriously put the men into menstruation conversation to orient myself on this important calendar for humanity. Hope it jogs your memory back on what you learnt and what you have now practically experienced in your lived reality.

A reminder to those who experience monthly periods: The goal of keeping track of your periods is to determine the length of the menstrual cycle and extrapolate the probable timing of ovulation because ovulation generally occurs 14 days before the start of your period, it’s important to know what day your period is supposed to begin.