The Paradox behind staying positive during Menstruation

Words by Patricia Humura

You are in transit, or preparing to swim or take a trip on your bucket list places and Tallaaaaa…the period comes. The uterus is ready to shed blood. It’s the menstruation period time!

You don’t wish to experience a period hijack without a quick solution. If you know what I mean, it’s a story for another day. For us to manage our menstruation and all the odds that come along, we must be prepared.

Menstruation refers to when blood and tissue from your uterus come through the small opening in your cervix and pass through your vagina. It is usually referred to as a “period.” During the monthly menstrual cycle, the uterus lining builds up to prepare for pregnancy. If you do not get pregnant, estrogen and progesterone hormone levels begin falling. Very low levels of estrogen and progesterone tell your body to begin menstruation. The reproductive system undergoes changes that are beyond menses itself. Similarly, hormones rise and fall in rhythmic patterns, influencing the variety of physical sensations and emotional shifts that you may experience for several days before menstruation and sometimes during the few days of menstrual flow. Usually, changes like body weakness, cramps, mood swings - among others - occur.

For 14 years, I have been menstruating and I still have more years ahead to menstruate. In the first two years, it was exciting, confusing, and with lots of observations because this was a new change – at that age, all my friends were joining their menses and we talked over every experience. We talked about all things, including the common cramps, and how girls with cramps are a “sign that they are of high-level fertility…lol”. There are so many myths and norms about menstruation period changes and our bodies. However, along this journey, I have learned so many joys, challenges, and coping ways of managing menstruation.

Despite the body challenges that come along, menstruation is absolutely normal. The magic is found in the preparation, understanding, and management of the body and environment. Since we want to have a positive and happy life, here are ways to cope:

  • The secret to enjoying your menstruation is in understanding your body. Take time to learn your menstrual cycle especially about the dates, the signs and how your body behaves during your menstruation period like during cold or hot weather, when happy, in pain, and at parties. This enables you to work towards any changes associated with the process.
  • Prepare – One way of coping is by being ready and prepared. Have the sanitary products or towels you use in order, identify and prepare the clothes you prefer. While selecting travel or busy days, use period free days. Although, travel could be part of your work or unavoidable. On such days, use a heavy sanitary towel, carry hygiene products such as polythene to dump your pad, sanitizer or body wipes. Carry extra underpants or knickers, cloth, and sanitary towels. Consider using a comfortable bus or vehicle with stopovers in safe places. Shop menstrual products early enough to avoid unexpected expenses during the season.
  • Pay attention to your body - Take care and listen to your body. Like, if you get headaches or feel dizzy, take fluids, slow down, rest, and pain killers where necessary. Do not stress your body. Respond to it. Learn about the treatment for any form of pain during menstruation. Remember the body changes occur daily and may be different based on the situations you are experiencing.
  • Stay clean and safe – During menstruation, the body releases various body fluids. Consider showering daily (or even two times a day), cleaning your cloth and environment. A clean environment keeps the body clean. Be in a safe environment free from danger to your body and health. If you are traveling, consider using a clean and good transport system like a clean bus that makes stop overs in a safe environment instead of 'the bush'. Remember to dump your sanitary pad responsibly. If you are using reusable sanitary cloth, wash them well and dry them in an aerated and clean environment.
  • Adopt positive living habits- It is important to initiate positive habits that make you happy and fulfilled. You can tap on your favorite hobby like bake a cake, take a walk, dance in the shower, or call a beloved friend. I love fresh sheets during my menstruation. I endeavor to change them on time to be comfortable.
  • Sex during Menstruation - It is totally up to you and your partner if you want to have sex during menstruation. However, this won’t protect you from sexually transmitted diseases or from getting pregnant. Consider using condoms to avoid unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases or use the birth control method. Remember to have cloth or tissue nearby to clean the blood on you or your partner’s body.

Be sure to drink lots of fluids and eat nutritious food. Make your menstruation period friendly. So now, go tune in, breathe and stay powerful during your menstruation.

Patricia Humura is a Menstrual Health Management Advocate from Uganda.