What is Period Stigma?
Period Stigma has existed since it was known that women menstruate. For one reason or another, likely because people didn't understand the process, they thought periods were disgusting.
Examples of Period Stigma
Women have to covertly place their period product in their pocket when going to the washroom.
Lack of education for those who do not experience menstruation.
Restricted access to feminine hygiene products
"Is it that time of the month again?" When a woman is assertive and voices her needs.
"I don't trust anything that bleeds for 5 days." A comment aimed at discrediting a woman.
These jokes have been normalized for years, but they negatively impact women as constantly being questioned for a decision they make due to being on their period can lead to insecurity and self-doubt.
What is the Issue?
Period stigma causes people who menstruate to experience shame, when menstruating is an entirely natural process. It makes talking about periods taboo; thus, it is discussed far less than it should be. This stigma also prevents women from reaching out for assistance when they are menstruating; this is especially harmful when health conditions are involved.
How is Period Stigma a Reality Around the World?
Women are not allowed to enter the kitchen or handle food because some society believes that doing so will cause the food to spoil as women on their periods bring bad luck.
If women allow another person to see their used menstrual cloth, they'll be cursed.
A woman who's menstruating can't enter a house if a man is inside.
People have many rules based on shared beliefs about menstruation. For example, women are discouraged from leaving home while on their period to avoid being attacked by evil spirits that make them infertile.
How can we normalize periods? For individuals who don't menstruate
1. Educate yourself:
Learn about the process of menstruation
2. Stop making jokes
Although you think that these jokes are light-hearted, they contribute to an underlying belief that periods are gross and unnatural.
How can we destigmatize periods? For women who menstruate
1. Be Proud:
If it is safe for you, walk into the bathroom with a period product visible in your hand- you have nothing to be ashamed of! Your actions can inspire other women and girls to help them feel more comfortable going to the washroom while on their period.
2. Educate Your Friends:
It may not be your responsibility to educate your friends, but an initial push or calling out a stigmatized remark will go a long way in reducing the stigma surrounding periods.