By Yetunde Arebi
The female reproductive organs cannot be said to perform at full peak without the menstrual period or menstruation. This is the monthly flow of blood by women which signifies the end of a cycle. Without this, a girl cannot be said to have attained womanhood even though she has all other features of a woman.
Though it usually starts during adolescent years, some women have been known to start their menstrual cycle long before their teens. The youngest mother according to world record is nine years old.
Depending on culture and traditional belief and practice, the menstrual period has different meaning and method of observation.
Ancient Indians used to isolate their women in a special room where they are not only confined for the period the bleeding might last, but also to undergo a special spiritual cleansing before they can rejoin their family and the community. Though a lot of things have changed today, it seems the basic rules are still pretty much the same for most people.
Onozure Dania sampled the opinion of respondents and filed in the stories you will be reading from this edition. Please do note that your contributions, observations, personal experiences and opinions on this issue are highly welcomed.
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Anaesthesia, (21), student:
I started menstruating when I was 18 years old. I got to know about menstrual period from my friends.
However, whenever Iâ€™m on, I usually have a terrible pain, such that I wonâ€™t be able to sit down.
The pain really causes me discomfort. So, one day, I went to meet my biology teacher and told her about the pain I was experiencing. She now asked me to go and buy a drug called Buscopan. I started taking it, but the pains were still there.
When I got to the university, I saw one of my friends, who also go through similar pains whenever she is on taking a drug called Felvine. I asked her why she was taking it instead of the Buscopan that I use. She now told me that her own drug stops the pains faster and that she used to take my drug until someone recommended the felvin to her.
So, I went to buy it too and immediately I took it, the pain just died. Since then, Iâ€™ve been using it. Menstruation means a lot. It means I should be very careful with the way I play with guys, the kind of places I go to and above all, it means if I play any pranks with my body, I can easily get pregnant.
Toyin, (32), Accountant,
I think I started menstruating at the of 13 or 14 years. Then, I wasnâ€™t scared because Iâ€™d had a pre knowledge of it from my sisters and my dad and later, my mum. I wasnâ€™t scared because I used to see my sisters menstruate and they kept telling me that one day I too will start mine.
So when it came, I just told them about it and they bought me sanitary pad. And that is what I have been using.
When I started, I usually feel pains on the first day. But after the first day the pain subsides and then its just the flow. I used to think that all my blood will dry up with time if care was not taken because of the heaviness of my flow. So, I used to take blood tonic. But over the years, the flow has reduced. I guess it has found a pattern.
Iyabo, 39,Â Marketing Executive:
I started menstruation at the age of 15. When I started, it was strange to me and I was scared, though my mother had already told me about it before then. When I started, I used pieces of cloth given to me by my mother.
She said she wanted me to go through what she went through growing up. This will make me appreciate better the rituals of menstruation and taking care of myself. Then, we would change the piece of cloth once or twice a day, depending on the heaviness of the flow.
Then we wash and dry in the room because according to her, no one (strangers) must see the cloth because diabolic people or oneâ€™s enemies could go and put juju on it, causing all sorts of havoc in oneâ€™s lives. Later, I was given cotton wool to use, later, tissue paper, and eventually sanitary pad which I am still using now. The only problem I have during my period is my legs.
I always feel very weak in my legs, so weak that I will not be able to stand or walk for the first day. Itâ€™s usually very difficult for me. So, what I normally do is to put my legs on a pillow when I sleep or lie down. My legs are my only problem.
Felicia, (28), Fashion designer:
My entry into the world of womanhood was rather dramatic. Unlike any other girl of my age, I had no visible boobs at the time I first saw my periods. I was the first in a group of about six girls in my extended family.
They all had boobs and were proudly flashing them around while I had almost nothing. Then, one day, we were all playing when someone shouted that I was bleeding. A look between my thighs and we discovered that my pant was soaked in blood. I was just ten years old and in JSS1. There was no way I could hide the development from the guys among us because we were all playing together when we saw it. So, I was a little embarrassed.
But my parents handled it very well. Later that day, they called a meeting where we were all told about the implications of what had happened to me. It was a great development we were informed because it meant that I had become of age and a proper woman.
The development therefore called for celebration the traditional way. My mother said a fowl must be slaughter for the gods who had deemed me fit for acceptance into womanhood. Ironically, my period did not come until after another six months. But I was assured that everything was alright as it sometimes happens like that.
Cynthia, 23, student
When I was young, my mother handed me a stupid book with some funny pictures of genitals and said â€œread thisâ€. We never spoke a word about it. Thank God for best friends with older sisters. I remember it happened in JSS 2, and my best friend Helen and I ran into the bathroom to check things out.