Written by Sahil Aleem
In our country, the topic of menstruation has always been taboo, something only spoken in hushed tones and behind closed doors. However, we are long overdue for a change in the way we react to and interact with what is a natural, healthy biological process. Perhaps most instrumental in this change is the education of non-menstruators, so that they may serve as effective allies to menstruators. Through this article, I will attempt to chronicle all the things I have learnt through research and experience with regards to how to support menstruators on their periods.
Understanding is at the core of any form of social progress. Education is paramount in helping demolish taboos and myths around menstruation. In this vein, it is extremely important that menstruators, but especially non-menstruators, educate themselves about the scientific facts behind and social implications of menstruation. This ranges not only into the theoretical, but also the practical solutions to aiding menstruators during their periods (which you’re doing right now!) and reducing period poverty.
Whether these menstruators are your siblings, partners or parents, the most important thing you can do is to communicate with them to understand their needs and how you can help. It is wise to take no information for granted. Periods can be vastly different for different people, and techniques that work for one person may not work for another. Remember that most people will be okay answering any questions you have, so don’t be scared to ask them. Through communicating, you will be able to discern the best way to take care of your loved ones, and also educate yourself in the process.
For most menstruators periods are uncomfortable, if not downright painful. As a non-menstruator, it is important to try to be considerate towards their situation. Avoid making light of their pain, and – as a general rule – do not invalidate their feelings just because they are on their period. Treat menstruators with kindness and care, without being patronizing. If possible, try to provide for whatever they require, and attempt to ensure that they are comfortable.
If you live with a menstruator, it may be appreciated if you help around the house more during their periods, allowing them to rest or relax. It can also be helpful to carry around a sanitary pad in case of an emergency in a backpack or first aid kit. Speak out against any misinformation or mistreatment people face in regards to menstruation when you see it, and try to educate as many people as you can about the topic.
More than anything, it is important for all of us to help in reducing the struggle and inequality faced by menstruators across the world, in order to pave our way to a brighter, better, more equal and safe future.