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Fearless, Period.

An Open Letter to Period Shamers

Taboo on MenstruationCode RedComment

Dear Period Shamers,

    Saumya here. I just wanted to say… where do I start. Okay, how about with the fact that my period is none of your business. You are not my doctor, you don’t get to tell me what is healthy and what isn’t.

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Why do you feel so strongly about the fact that I am on my period, anyways? I don’t care if you consider me your friend, unless you’re telling me that I have blood on my favorite white pants, I don’t care. You can have an opinion, you just can’t have an opinion about MY period. Did you catch that?

MY period. Mine. Not yours.

    It irks me even more if you are someone who has never had a period. What do you know about how a period feels? Nothing. You know nothing. If you think my period is disgusting, why are you here? No one asked you to come and share your opinion on something you have no personal experiences with. My biology is not something that should be ridiculed.

Do I even have to tell you that people like you are the reason why society still exiles women during their periods or treats them as touchy and irrational? I guess I do, because obviously you are completely ignorant of those facts. Guess what? Women are still not treated as equals, and while you aren’t the whole reason why, you certainly are a part of it.

You might not even realize you are doing it, so here’s a checklist. If you seriously ask women if they are on their period when they’re mad, call women unfit to lead because they are “irrational”, explain things to them like you would a child when they’re mad, etc., you’re probably a period-shamer, and you should stop.

Now let’s move on to a list of things people like you have caused. I cried when I got my period because I thought it was a bad thing. Thanks, period-shamers. My mom didn’t even know what a period was until she got hers because her mom and sisters were ashamed to talk about it. Thanks, period-shamers. I am always self-conscious about whether or not I’m leaking, even when I’m not on my period. Thanks, period-shamers.

Sincerely,

Saumya

 

Period Myths VS. Period Facts

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By Saumya Bajaj

Periods have long been taboo, even to this day. Although there were (very) few studies in the 19th and 20th centuries concerning periods that were actually done well and were replicable, the ones that were done had some valuable information debunking common myths associated with women’s menstruation. Now, we have quite a few more female scientists (though not nearly enough), so there are more studies pertaining to periods. These studies more often than not completely disprove myths relating to periods. Let’s take a look at some of these myths that still continue to haunt women around the world.

  • Do periods affect cognitive function? No. Absolutely not. In fact, one of the first reputable studies into menstruation was about whether or not periods affect cognitive function. Leta Hollingworth actually conducted this study for her dissertation, concluding that it does not affect ability. Another more recent study done just this year headed by Brigitte Leeners concluded precisely the same thing. So when someone says women shouldn’t be leaders because they can’t think straight during their periods, you can tell them “Wrong”.

  • Do women’s cycles sync up if they spend enough time together? Again, no. This is called “menstrual synchrony” in the science community. Martha McClintock conducted the original study suggesting this, but several papers were published reporting flaws in this study. While McClintock suggested pheromones, doubt was cast upon this conclusion, along with many people’s inability to reproduce this study.

  • Does PMS necessarily cause mood changes? No. A team led by Sarah Romans reviewed 47 studies, concluding that there is very little correlation with mood changes and menstruation, let alone PMS. While this didn’t say that mood changes are never caused by PMS, it did say that most women don’t have mood swings caused by hormonal changes during PMS.

While there are quite a few more myths that continue to limp along, they are continuously being debunked, slowly being chipped away at until they completely fall. In the meanwhile, know that everything you read about periods isn’t necessarily true.

Why Are Girls Reaching Puberty Earlier And Earlier?

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By: Saumya Bajaj

In 2010, a study was published that found that more and more girls are reaching puberty earlier and earlier, sometimes by the age of 6 or 7. This is also known as precocious puberty. This can cause bones to fuse early and cause them to  be shorter than their genetics originally indicated. In, face, people who go through this are more likely to a have a myriad of mental illnesses, such as anxiety, eating disorders, and depression, along with being more likely to abuse substances.

https://www.menstrupedia.com/articles/puberty/physical-changes-girls

https://www.menstrupedia.com/articles/puberty/physical-changes-girls

So, why is this happening more and more? First of all, it’s important to note that it might just be genetics, so knowing when your mom hit puberty is helpful in know whether or not it actually happened to you. One reason might be the obesity epidemic in America. Body fat encourages the release of estrogen, so it makes sense that girls with higher BMIs tend to hit puberty earlier than normal. Diet is also a big part of this as well.

Emotional stress can also be a stressor. (I’m not sorry for my puns.) Girls with parents who have a bad marriage or have an untreated mental illness also tend to reach puberty earlier than other girls.

These reasons have led researchers to conclude that reaching puberty early is a result of evolution, an effect of their surrounding environment. This has many physical and psychological damages on a girl, though, so it is imperative for scientists to find a concrete reason for this.

The Evolution of Period Products

Period ProductsCode RedComment

By: Saumya Bajaj

It's hard to imagine life without pads or tampons(or your tracking app), but that is how women have had to live for the majority of human history, and sometimes still do. With or without these, women still have periods. So, let's take a look at the evolution of period products.

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❖   Ancient History: Most women either used cloth, animal skin, or plants like papyrus or grass; however, most women were on their own to find ways to stop from leaking on everything. In fact, in Ancient Greece, it is well recorded that a woman threw a used sanitary cloth to get rid of a stalker.

❖   1888: Nurses in France realized that the bandages they used to patch up people were a lot better at absorbing blood than the cotton cloth generally used at that time to stop period blood from leaking onto women’s clothes, so they started using the wood pulp bandages. Soon after, commercial companies starting using that idea and some of the first commercial pads-known as Southhall pads-were available for sale in France. In the US, Lister’s Towels: Sanitary Towels for Ladies from Johnson & Johnson were released.

❖   1920s: By this time, many different sanitary pads were for sale, but women still felt uncomfortable buying them, so Johnson & Johnson changed the name of the Lister’s Towels to Nupak. Even then, they were still much too expensive for most women, but when women could buy them, they would place money in a box so they wouldn’t have to speak to a clerk who was almost certainly male. They would also have to use a sanitary belt, which you would use by tying your pad to the ends of the belt.

❖   1931: Dr. Earl-Haas invented and patented the first modern tampon, Tampax, later selling it to Gertrude Schulte Tenderich.

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❖   1936: Judith Essar-Mittag created the o.b. tampon. It was a tampon without an applicator, making it more environmentally-friendly than a regular tampon. It was marketed as much more effective at guarding against leaks. She later sold her patent to Johnson & Johnson.

❖   1937: Leona Chalmers patented the first usable menstrual cup, though it was not very successful.

❖   1980s: This was around the time when the adhesive strip came to be in use for period “technology.” This quickly became women’s preferred menstrual product. Throughout the years, pads became thinner and more discreet.

❖   2002: The first reusable silicone menstrual cup was created and sold in the UK through Mooncup, eventually spreading to Europe, and then the United States.

Menstrual hygiene has come leaps and bounds since the 20th century,  but the reality is that many women still don’t have access to these products. Because of this, many girls and women can never finish school, making it virtually impossible for them to ever get out of poverty. We still have leaps and bounds to go, so let’s not celebrate just yet.