The menstruation cycle – and why we need to talk about it

taboo subject menstruation

Once a month I bleed. I also get the other menstruation symptoms – cramps, stomach pains and find myself on an emotional rollercoaster. Luckily, I’m not alone. Millions of people experience this every month. In fact, in all spheres of life there are women who bleed. And yet menstruation remains a taboo subject. That has to change. Thankfully, social media campaigns and advocates have taken the first step toward promoting liberal conversations about the monthly menstruation cycle.

When did the menstruation cycle become a taboo subject?

It’s absurd to think that a natural part of a woman’s life should not be talked about. After all, the menstrual cycle is an important aspect of female fertility and reproduction. Nevertheless, most of us only talk about it in private. Some of us blush when purchasing female hygiene products and whisper when trying to locate the tampon aisle. If this wasn’t bad enough, we hardly ever openly talk about the subject. Many people still consider menstruation to be disgusting, unhygienic, embarrassing and even dirty. In part, this stigmatization of menstruation has been driven by the advertising industry. TV commercials, for example, use blue liquid to demonstrate hygiene product absorbance. Why not red? The message is clear: menstruation must be rendered invisible. Indeed, the huge industry of disposable items such as tampons and sanitary towels creates and feeds off of the stigma that bleeding is to be hidden. It’s now more than ever we need to talk about the alternatives.

Activism against the taboo subject menstruation: #periodpositive #bloodnormal

Fortunately, there are women who are taking a stand and no longer want to accept that such a socially important issue should be kept quiet. Briton Chella Quint is a comedian, activist, pedagogue, artist and initiator of the movement to foster an open approach to menstruation. Through the #periodpositive movement, she argues for an open discourse on menstruation. Educational events in schools and the development of reusable monthly products are the building blocks of the #premium-positive campaign. It is vital that women can talk about their periods without feeling ashamed. A self-confident approach to female biological processes can also improve one’s sex life and is essential for reproductive health.

Taboo subject menstruation: “I bleed – so what?”

We should take menstruation for what it is: a biological reproductive process. Periods are neither disgusting nor abnormal. Personally, I’m fascinated by my own menstrual cycle, because it reminds me of my own fertility and femininity. I have the opportunity to give birth and that may be one of the greatest wonders of humanity. My menstrual days are times of cleansing, personal growth and letting go. A new cycle begins. I can’t deny that I also get cramps and pain. Indeed, I can be moody and emotional. However, it’s ridiculous to label the cycle as a disease. A period is an expression of health and fertility and most importantly it’s completely natural. In fact, the only time we should be worried about our periods is when they suddenly stop. That could be a sign of chronic stress and illness. Opening up the conversation helps educate people about their own bodies and makes their lives easier – for example, tracking irregular menstruation with a menstruation cycle app like Clue.

Trending the conversation on menstruation

The most important strategy in de-stigmatizing the topic is education. Schools and youth centers should initiate shame-free conversations on menstruation. The cycle of secrecy, fear and misinformation has to be broken. At the same time, privacy needs to be guaranteed. After all, we’re talking about the most intimate area of the female body and everyone has their own personal limits. I firmly believe that only an open and honest conversation can result in recognition and understanding. Men can never fully know what it feels like to be a menstruating woman, but we can try to explain it, and only then can we expect them to understand.

The Menstrubation Initiative Declares War on Period Pain

Speaking of talking openly, The Female Company and Womanizer launched an initiative in May 2020 that combines two long-time taboo topics: menstruation and masturbation. The challenge was to find participants across the world that were willing to relieve their period discomfort for three months with solo sex instead of painkillers.

Results were recorded monthly. After the test months, the following results were obtained: 90% confirmed that regular masturbation relieved their period pain. 85% plan to continue this new solo sex routine.

What does this show us? Most basically, that neither should be taboo. And that pain relief can actually get the pulse racing…

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Fitness trainer, blogger for Louise et Hélène, photographer and turtle-mum: Konstanze took many roles over the past years. Her believe: Life is a playground, where everyone can discover new things every day. Curiosity and drive compelled her to start writing. Through her work, she seeks to explore the role of women in society: does it mean to be woman? What are the specific challenges? How can I enjoy my femininity in an honest way? And how do we keep the balance between body culture and body positivity? Konstanze is looking for the answers every day.