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Tuesday, 25 March 2014 00:00

Surfing the Moon’s Cycle

Menstruation: a thing which is handled differently by women. Unpredictable, long, filled with pain, emotive… Almost negative feelings …

In a nutshell, on the physical side a woman’s cycle lasts for an average 28 days. From them the first 3-4-5 days are for the menstruation. Then your body starts growing an ovum. On around the 14th day the ovum starts its own way. If it meets a sperm, your baby is on the way. Otherwise on the 28th day the wall of your uterine peels itself off and your menstruation starts. Of course, it is just a simple explanation, but in my opinion the emotional side is more important. And it is what I would like to discuss now.

To tell you the truth when I was young I said a lot of times that it would be better if I never had menstruation. I didn’t really know how important it is. If there were no menstruation, humanity would die out.

The beginning of the story is parenting. As women, we have to bring up our daughters in a way that “when the time comes” she knows everything about her own body both on the physical and the emotional side. This teaching starts with preparing your daughter for the first time, that it won’t be a shocking experience for her. In a survey (made in 2006) “postmenarcheal girls were less positive towards menstruation than premenarcheal girls”[1]. A lot of women experienced that they didn’t know what to do; what’s more they didn’t ever dare to say it to their mothers. Also in that survey “67% of 12-year-old girls who haven’t had their period yet received information about menstruation only from school nurses”.[2] In an ideal way mothers would celebrate the first one together with their daughters in a “girlish” way and teach the girls to handle it positively. But it’s a long way; you have to start it when your daughter is born. Of course they will hear a lot of thing from their classmates and friends, but “mothers’ timing and ability to communicate attitudes towards menstruation and the body are as important as those in a girl's immediate environment.”[3] We have to teach our daughters that it’s the most wonderful thing which can happen to their body.

In ancient times menstruation was handled as a special thing. “It is a vision, which overarches several cultures that in harmony with the Moon the woman’s blood which burst out holds the magic of creation, which sometimes stays inside to create children.”[4] Several religious rituals belonged to it. Menstruation blood was thought to be saint and to have magical power. “Mostly because in the hunter-gatherer societies they didn’t know any birth control so menstruation was pretty rare. If it occurred, it was believed the symbol of female power. That time women were handled specially, everybody understood that they are in a special state.”[5] The habit of moving to a “monthly hut” was also common. Sometimes it was a mandatory occlusion (to avoid wild animals) but more often it was an obligatory one. During these days women could think about themselves, experience their womanhood.[6] “They dreamed, daydreamed, did rituals, sang and danced”.[7]

Then in the Middle Ages something changed. It was thought to be bad and dirty. Unfortunately this view still exists. “Almost one-third of women think that bleeding has a severe negative impact on their daily life. Approximately 60% of women would, at least sometimes, like to postpone their bleeding and 50% wish they have the flexibility to determine when their menstrual bleeding starts. Overall, 34% of women would change the frequency of their bleeding to once every two or three months.”[8] I think all of these women see their menstruation as a problem or an „illness”. In Hungary – where I live – elder women also say that (in word-by-word translation) you become ill for those days. But it’s not an illness. May be the problem is not just in minds. Our great-grandmothers and grandmothers didn’t have the chance to choose from this wide range of sanitary napkins or tampons, so their comfort was much less than ours. Fortunately nowadays this view starts changing. But as I see it is not on the best way. TV ads suggest that you should ignore your cycle, ease your menstruation symptoms. Instead of it we have to re-experience our womanhood and try to turn back to the ancestors when it was a magical thing. Because it IS a magic! Our cycle it the best way to show that we are women; we are the mother of everything.

 

 



[1] Rembeck, G. I., Möller, M. and Gunnarsson, R. K. (2006), Attitudes and feelings towards menstruation and womanhood in girls at menarche. Acta Paediatrica, 95: 707–714. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2006.tb02319.x retrieved on 19th March

[2] Rembeck, G. I., Möller, M. and Gunnarsson, R. K. (2006), Attitudes and feelings towards menstruation and womanhood in girls at menarche. Acta Paediatrica, 95: 707–714. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2006.tb02319.x retrieved on 19th March

[3] Rembeck, G. I., Möller, M. and Gunnarsson, R. K. (2006), Attitudes and feelings towards menstruation and womanhood in girls at menarche. Acta Paediatrica, 95: 707–714. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2006.tb02319.x retrieved on 19th March

[4] Szex, kultúra, menstruáció, retrieved on 19th March, 2014 from http://donna.hu/cikk/Szexkulturamenstruacio/1768

[5] 5 példa a nők különös tiszteletére retrieved on 19th March, 2014 from

 http://borsa.hu/tisztelet_a_noknek/20110901

[6] Lehet szeretni „azokat a napokat”? retrieved on 19th March, 2014 from

http://www.nlcafe.hu/szexesmas/20140129/menstruacios-ritualek/

[7] Szex, kultúra, menstruáció, retrieved on 19th March, 2014 from http://donna.hu/cikk/Szexkulturamenstruacio/1768

[8]Szarewski A, von Stenglin ARybowski S Women's attitudes towards monthly bleeding: results of a global population-based survey Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2012 Aug;17(4):270-83. doi: 10.3109/13625187.2012.684811. Epub 2012 Jul 3. retrieved on 19 March, 2014 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22758651

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