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Bearing the red flag

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. Our address is: The Human Angle, Vanguard, P.M.B. 1007, Apapa, Lagos. Or e-mail address: Happy reading!!

Chika, 24, a student,
I started menstruation at the age of 10. When I started, I felt strange because I thought I’d injured my self. But I could not recall how. I was so scared that I couldn’t tell my mum about it. Before it happened, I had no prior information about it, so that really made me scared all the more.  It was my aunty that saw me and now told my mum about it.

So, she took me to her room and started explaining what it means to me. But I was really scared.  I didn’t use anything. I just left it like that. I felt very slight pain then.  I didn’t use any drugs. After my mum had explained to me, I became very careful because it meant I was now a woman.  What this menstruation means to me is that it’s something that one will always experience weather we like it or not. It comes every month. It also means you are no longer a small girl.

Lizy, 24, student,
I started menstruating when I was 15 years old. I have older sisters who were already menstruating so I didn’t see it as strange in any way.  I used tissue paper then. My sister told me to roll it in the shape of a sanitary pad.

Then my dad enlightened me more on menstruation. But right now, I use sanitary pads.

During my menstruation, I normally vomit. During that time, I would loose appetite for food. Menstruation to me, is a pride of womanhood. Though its a period which many women don’t like because of the discomfort as a result of the irritation. But, let’s take a look at it for young girls who are not ready to become mothers.

Whenever she misses her period, she will feel like the whole world should collapse on her because if she has been seeing a guy, she might be afraid that she has gotten pregnant.

Then, for the married women, they will also worry if it is not planned. I have heard of a woman who had never menstruated her entire life and it caused her the marriage because there was no way she was going to bear children.
Seun, (32), teacher:

I was only 11 years old when I had my first period. My mother, who had started menstruating when she was only 10 had already given me a talk during which she explained how to use maxi pads and tampons. The problem was, she was never very specific about what would be coming out of me.

I believe she used a vague explanation like “tissue” which would normally create a soft lining for a baby to grow in.”

Well, a nice soft, cozy home for a baby did not give me an image of blood, so when I started bleeding, I was horrified and thought I might even die. I went back to my mother in tears and she explained that it was perfectly normal.

However, at my young age and being an only girl, I had difficulty accepting my passage into womanhood. The next couple of years were kind of rough, until my friends got their periods too.
Ifunaya, (21), student:

I started at the age of sixteen. It was very painful. When I first saw it, I thought I had injured my self. So I went to tell my mummy about it and she now told me that I had no injury and that it was a normal thing every woman must go through.

Any woman who doesn’t menstruate, means there is something biologically wrong with that woman. This even made me really scared.

Though I’d heard about menstruation before, but I didn’t know it comes that way. My mum gave me sanitary pad and explained how to use it. So I started using pad.

However, I had very terrible pains such that I had to go and see a doctor who now prescribed some drugs for me to use. I can’t remember the name of the drug now.  What menstruation means to me is that it shows that one is now matured, because if a lady doesn’t menstruate when its time for her to, then she needs to see the doctor. This is because if she doesn’t, then she can’t have her own kids in future.

So what menstruation means to me is that it shows that I am now a woman and I need to be taking proper care of myself. That also is something one should be proud of even though sometimes its very painful.
Anaesthesia, (21), student:

I started menstruating when I was 18 years old. I got to know about menstrual period from my friends. Then, I was in Senior Secondary School. We were just in my friend’s house one day, when we all started talking about girl stuffs. When my friend now told us about it and that she was even on.

Surprisingly, five days later, mine came. I was not scared since I’d heard of it before.  But my mother didn’t tell me any thing about it, it was my friend that told me. So, when I started, I just went to buy sanitary pad because she had already told us what we should use if we see it.


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