Periods in other countries

Gunce • Head of research at Glow. Unwilling infertility expert. 2 kids after 6 IVF treatments.

As chance would have it I got my period this morning. As a woman with PCOS, I never quite know when it's coming. (It's true Glow warned me that it might be soon...but I didn't heed the warning enough to put on a panty-liner last night.) So this morning found me waking up in bloody sheets. Kinda like the severed horse's head scene from the Godfather movie, but with less screaming.

No matter. I got up. Stripped the bed. Threw it in the wash. Then I stripped myself and took a nice long hot shower. Popped in a tampon, and went on with my day. Not even skipping a beat.

That is until I stopped to think about all the things that I take for granted to make my menstrual cycles completely a non-issue. I am talking about the water that I used to keep myself and my home clean. And the tampon that I had handy.

But what of all those women, around the world, who lack access to water and sanitary products? And I am not talking about those never-been-discovered-by-civilization tribes in the Amazon. I read today that only 12 per cent of India’s menstruating women have access to commercial sanitary products, while many of the rest use rags, newspaper or corn husks!

In parts of my own home country, Turkey, women do not leave home while they are menstruating. And so young girls drop out of school, women cannot get jobs. Because how do you hold a job if you cannot leave your room for a week out of every month?

It's crazy to think about right? Crazier still to imagine what our lives would be like if we do not have access to water and sanitary products?

I don’t think there is an easy solution to these problems. But there certainly will never be one, if NO ONE talks about it. Menstuation should NOT be a taboo topic.

Menstruation is not shameful. It is life-giving and amazing and powerful. It is natural. It is awe-inspiring. And maybe if we say so here. And say it loud. Then maybe, someday, our sisters the world over will believe it too.


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