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Despite menstruation being normal among girls and women, there are some challenges that come with it. A woman experiences her menstrual cycle for at least 5 days every month.
The menstrual blood which is different from normal blood consists of extra tissue and blood from the uterine lining.
In some societies, young girls lack the basic knowledge of menstruation. With little or no information about the changes in their bodies, these girls fall victim to period stigma while lacking understanding of how to ensure personal hygiene leaving some of them with vaginal infections.
It is for this reason Menstrual Hygeine Day has been set aside, on May 28 of every year, to promote good menstrual hygiene management for all women and girls and lift period stigma.
Nothing can be compared to the pain of young girls being kept from reaching their full potential due to challenges that come with lack of accessibility to basic menstrual supplies like sanitary pads.
“A lot of young girls are unable to afford sanitary pads. I won’t say girls in the rural areas because even in the urban center, lots of girls are unable to buy a sanitary towel. I think that it should be made free for women. It is not our fault that we have to menstruate,” said Mamavi Goh told GhanaWeb in an interview.
The changes in the body of women during their period varies; to some, tender breasts, mood swings, acne, joint pains and headaches are the common symptoms.
“I have severe cramps, sometimes moving becomes problematic. The pain is just terrible. I seriously feel sick during my first 3 days. In a way, I kind of announce to everybody that it is that time of the month,” Sharon Willis, shared her period challenges.
Most women have experienced some forms of period stigma at a point in their lives. Specific cultures and religions characterize women as “unclean” during menstruation.
In some homes, girls are prevented from cooking or getting closer to other members of the family, they have to isolate themselves until there are no traces of menstrual blood.
“In some Royal houses where there are traditional stools or deity, women are banned from stepping foot in the house during menstruation… women who flout such traditional laws are made to appease the gods with either a goat or fowl,” said Madam Paulina Ama Owerekoa Leigh.
It has become necessary to lift the stigma of shame and dirtiness which are tagged with periods.
Painful menstruation is not normal, according to Dr. Afua Gordon, a Consultant Obstetrician Gynaecologist, who explained that “several conditions can predispose you to have painful menses, commonly uterine fibroids and what we call Endometriosis.”
In some women, cramps and pelvic pains are experienced at the time of the month. The pain can sometimes be unbearable, such women need to seek early treatment to correct such abnormalities.
“If you are someone with very severe menstrual pains, when you come to the hospital we find out the cause of the pain and we tell you when to take your medications… if you are the type that usually vomits or has so much pain then we need to admit you, give you medication and subsequently try and control your cycle so you don’t have all those admissions. You shouldn’t say that once you have painful menstruation then you wouldn’t have children in the future,” said Dr. Afua Gordon.
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