The chatter about menstrual hygiene gains momentum every year on May 28 when the world observes the Menstrual Hygiene Day. But just as periods are a year-round phenomena, efforts are on to make talks about menstruation as normal as possible. Celebrities across the globe have been breaking the taboo and sharing their experiences, to make period talks acceptable. At Health Shots, we spoke to author Shaheen Bhatt, actress Alia Bhatt’s sister, about why periods are #NoBigDeal.
Shaheen Bhatt, who has been unfiltered in sharing her battle with depression via her memoir I’ve Never Been (Un)happier, has now opened up about why her first impression about periods was negative, her go-to PMS hack and the need to cut the shame around menstruation.
Excerpts from Shaheen Bhatt’s interview on menstrual health and hygiene:
I got my first period when I was 13 years old. Even though my mother had talked to me (about periods) before, when I first got my period, I experienced a lot of shame. It was something I was very embarrassed about because despite the fact that everything had been explained to me, I had a lot of misconceptions about periods. These were formed because of the things people said around me. Now that I look back at that time, I think that it should have been a new and exciting experience of my adolescent life but it became a stressful time for me.
One of the weirdest things I have ever heard about periods is also one of the first things I was told about it. I was told that “it is all the bad blood that is leaving your body”, and that is such a horribly negative way to look at it! When you are told something like that, you perceive that there is something bad in your body that needs to be flushed out once a month. This was one of the things that contributed towards me feeling not so good about getting my first period.
Watch Shaheen Bhatt open up about the need for menstrual health awareness!
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During PMS, I get bloated. I’m lucky that I don’t get a lot of pain, but I crave sugar and I can’t even explain how strong those cravings are when I’m PMSing. So, my main trick for dealing with it is just eating sugar. The way I look at it is that this is something that I have to deal with once a month and I indulge in it and have fun with it.
I use biodegradable sanitary napkins at the moment. I realized that since periods are a recurring thing in my life, I’m contributing to a lot of plastic waste every month, so I switched to biodegradable products and I feel a lot better about that. But now, I’m trying to move on to menstrual cups because a lot of my friends started using them and one of them said that it was absolutely life-changing.
Also, watch: Mithila Palkar says yay to menstrual cup
The reason it is important that we need to normalize talking about menstruation is because there is so much misinformation and ignorance about it. We have had them for generations now and as a result of that, the ignorance around periods is actually hurting women.
Educating people about menstruation is really required, especially in lower economic groups, where they don’t even have access to sanitary products. Also, because of a lack of education, there is not enough known about menstrual hygiene which is a really important thing to know about.
In many cultures, including ours, we are told to miss school, not go into the kitchen, women are not allowed into places of worship and things like that. Because for some reason it has been taught to us that periods are something bad and negative. Things like, going to a chemist to buy sanitary napkins and coming out with a brown paper bag, hidden like it is something to be ashamed of, should not happen because it’s not something to be ashamed of. We need to combat all this misinformation and the only way you can is to normalize it by talking about it. The more you talk about it, the less problematic it seems to people who think it’s problematic.
(Shaheen Bhatt was interviewed for Health Shots by Nikita Bhardwaj)