It Is Not A Taboo And It Does Hurt. Period.

6 min read 

Sleep on the floor.

Don’t enter the temple.

Don’t touch the food.

These are not statements from medieval times, they are statements that women hear in their everyday life, where talking about the menstrual cycles still is a taboo.

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When I (or my female cousins) had their first period, it was celebrated with fanfare. It is a cultural thing. I didn’t mind because who doesn’t like gifts for no real reason? But what I did mind was the treatment my cousins got every month because of this very reason. I was saved the discrimination because I was living in Delhi and my parents were labeled “liberal” by their Chennai counterparts.

Menstruation in different cultures

Menstrual taboos are not just the story of one region in India, it exists almost everywhere. In most faiths, it is perceived as a sign of impurity. Be it Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism or Baha’i, Indian taboos permeates every religion and forbids women to visit a place of worship during periods. These myths about periods not just result in unfair treatment of women in India but also around the world. For instance, in the Tlingit community (indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest coast of North America) when a woman is menstruating she is kept in isolation in a hut and not permitted to lie down. Her face is smeared with charcoal and she is not even allowed to chew her own food, her relatives do that for her! 

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Even my local grocery shop delivers sanitary pads wrapped in newspapers or an opaque black plastic bag, as though it is radioactive. While there have been articles and social media rants about not treating menstrual cycles as a taboo, the question is, are we there yet? The answer and the brighter picture is some of us are (the fact that I can write about it openly while working for the biggest services marketplace is an example). 

Facts about periods

Let’s break it down what menstruation really is in simple words. It a natural monthly cycle that women go through to make pregnancy possible. It prepares the uterus for impregnation. If you ask me, I would wonder why a process that is literally responsible for evolution, is considered a monthly curse.

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What to eat – diet during periods

So can a process that is natural & a part of growing up, really be a taboo? Can we really ruin pickle by simply touching it during our periods?

Our expert dietician Ekta Sood, at Urban Company ridicules the myth “There is no such thing! All there is to periods is the food that you can actually eat to feel better and ease the pain. Eat lean protein, fiber and get enough iron. Caffeine also helps and alleviates the extra lethargy.”

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Support a woman during her menstruation cycles

Moving on, the fact that menstrual cycle is a taboo is not the only premise which should draw flack. It hurts and it would hurt even more if I can’t talk about it. Whether I am at home or at work.

Sakshi Bhasin, a relationship counselor on Urban Company says, “If your daughter is going through puberty and if as a parent you avoid the subject or keep stressing on the fact that it is a discussion for the “women folk”, a girl would feel her father is not accepting her transition to adulthood. And this transitionary time is extremely important for any child. In a marriage, the knowledge of your partner’s periods is not just important for family planning, it is also important to communicate better. Men usually learn about the menstrual cycle through their wives or girlfriends, often in the form of a complaint, which sours the understanding of the process and the uneasiness women are subjected to during the cycle”.

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Her period is not just about not having sex today, there is more to it and should be understood.

At work, if a woman can take a break because of the excruciating pain, it helps. And it helps even more when her boss (male or female) doesn’t squirm and simply says take rest. Japan has even had menstrual leaves since after World War 2! Such acceptance allows a woman to speak more freely about her body, and gain a social recognition for who she is.

Yoga during periods – how it can help

Many articles and studies have acknowledged the fact that menstrual pain can be quite agonizing. Different women have different intensity and it is a monthly affair, but that does not take away the truth that it is a discomfort and should get empathy. While people believe that exercising during periods can actually hurt a woman more, the facts speak otherwise. 

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Bhanu Kumari, a yoga expert with Urban Company says, “Uterus contractions cause the pain during a period and can cause a lot of discomforts. There are some yoga poses that help relax the nervous system and ease the discomfort.

  • Janusirsasana – Head to knee forward bend

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  • Pasasana – Noose pose

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  • Ustrasana – the camel pose

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  • Supta Padangusthasana: Reclining Pose

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Some of you might have found this article disturbing, but here is the thing. If you whisper and raise eyebrows when one talks about having a period or menstrual cycles, you are ignoring the one vital part of biology that is stopping our entire race from extinction. So next time you squirm, how about you question your existence?

25 Comments
  1. You are so right about the taboo bit. When I was in school a classmate had her skirt stained and the stares she got was crazy. It is like we want to deliberately isolate women for going through a period.

  2. Very well written.. But i think slowly n steady things are changing.. Plp r becoming evolved.. But yes the black plastic bag or a newspaper till today makes me laugh at their ignorance everytime

  3. Very well written! Women should voice it out i feel! The more comfortable they are about their period the more acceptable society would be..it’s time to get over the taboo!

  4. If only more people thought this way, and men did not cringe at a natural process that in the first place is responsible for their existence, perhaps women will find it easier to accept themselves and their bodies!
    I salute your ferocious eloquence!

  5. Very well written. I believe some rituals like not entering kitchen/temple were made to relieve the woman which sadly turned into taboo. Thanks for information on exercises ,some people still believe that you can’t even do yoga! Keep up the good work..

  6. I guess I can never understand the discomfort but I can and have empathised. I think modern households don’t follow these taboos but the word period is still said in a hush hush manner

  7. I think it is important to start talking about the topic of menstruation with a sense of openness and normality since puberty. Schools ought to teach it as a regular biological phenomenon, parents need to talk about it openly with their sons and daughters alike. We need to get rid of this hide under the carpet mentality.

  8. Every word written by you is any girls story. So perfectly described. With time let’s hope the things change.

  9. You are talking about a country where talking about sex is also a taboo..looks like we are against evolution at multiple levels 😛 nice blog btw

  10. We have a temple in India that worhsips the vagina and is closed during that part of the month. Even godesses go through periods and people are not allowed to see her during those days and here we are lambasting poor human beings..

  11. Wow, this is just an amazing blog. Irony of story is most of the males in India didn’t even aware of this thing.. Nice way to put the thoughts in an open forum

  12. Probably one of the best articles on this topic which would really stimulate the thoughts of people who think mensuration as a taboo.
    Very well written !

  13. Keeping the girl away from work kitchen was to give rest coz of body changes. But many religious carriers misinterpreted it as unclean,contrary to the fact tht a girl or women is more pure during and post the 5days.Thanks for voicing on this topic coz many follow old tradition without understanding just with the fact wht their ignorant mom did so we follow.

  14. An article with insights. Right now I have my neighbour staying over at my home cos there has been a death in their family and she can’t stay there because she is on her periods. I’m like wtf! Her sister just passed away and she can’t stay there? And this is in literate kerala. I’ve never understood people’s discomfort in accepting this normal cycle of life. I can pick up napkins for my gf and walk down from a super market.. I don’t need a black polythene bag (for another reason that I despise plastic) its not radioactive!!

  15. Good post, still in every home some or the other rules are there. Worst thing which is followed in Telugu homes, during pregnancy when periods are not there then also women should not go to temple. I feel at each and every stage of life when there should be happiness women are restricted from some thing or the other.

  16. Why would you want to talk about it?I understand if you are in pain u wud want to share with some, but if u want to tell the world u hv periods what is the point u r proving?it’s si weird, the things v MK as gender empowering… Not vrythung is

  17. It is a normal phenomena which should not get so much attention and taboo. It is so weird that people are talking about why it should not be a taboo because there should not be any need. But such is life, at least someone is talking about it and making it a non taboo

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