Periods locked-down: an interpretation of the period struggles of lockdown

Words by Kingsley Mathonsi

"Being on my period and on lockdown is harder than I expected," says Sindi, a 17 year old young woman as she narrates her story. "I have never been one to talk about my period openly to anyone, mom included."

"When I first started menstruating it was one of the toughest things l had to go through every month, or so l thought! My body was constantly changing, my breasts itching, having stomach cramps and hating school days, 'cause I am one of those who have heavy flows, so I had to constantly rush to the toilet to change my pad, or during lunch breaks I would constantly check if I hadn't spoiled myself. I was now used to my monthly struggles; they had turned to battles that l fought effortlessly without complaint."

"I live in a two roomed shack (zozo) that consists of 1 bedroom and 1 kitchen which me and my brothers use as our bedroom. I'm the 3rd and last born in a family of five that consists of both my parents and twin elder brothers. My dad is in construction, my mom is a housewife, and my siblings and I are still in school."

"The lockdown hit us unexpectedly and my dad was forced to drop tools. W were forced to pause our studies as we had to stay at home. I was looking forward to writing my matric and finally going to the matric dance in my beautiful ballroom gown but with the lockdown happening all my dreams were shattered."

"Being on my period has been extremely hard because l have heavy flows and I can't run to the toilet as much as I have to. We live in an informal settlement so our toilets are outside and we have to share them with at least six other different families. Having to ask my father to move from the bedroom whenever I need to change my pad is extremely embarrassing and considering our financial situation at home I have had to resort to using 1 pad and 2 cloths a day in order to save my last pack of pads. Even though I wash and iron my padding cloths whenever I am done with them, that still doesn't make any difference because they still itch whenever I use them. I have even noticed a rash on my vagina and I think it's coming from the irritation from the cloths. And the smell that comes from my vagina is unbearable but I have to take it all in stride as I am unable to bath properly."

"I just want this lockdown to be over and done with so that we can have our normal lives back with our day to day struggles and not have to live in agony where the simplest of things like going to the store turns out to be a mission."