Health: Girl, you’ll be a woman soon


The start of menstruation is a significant event. MEERA MURUGESAN tells how mothers can prepare themselves and their daughters for itIT used to be mentioned in hushed tones. In the past, secrecy was the preferred method of dealing with menstruation. But today, advertisements for sanitary napkins appear on prime time television.

And with better educated, well-informed mothers passing on information to their daughters, menstruation is no longer the taboo subject it once was.

There’s now a new openness towards menstruation and awareness of it as a natural process, says associate professor Dr Harlina Halizah Siraj, an obstetrician and gynaecologist.

Speaking at a recent forum in Petaling Jaya organised by PT Softex Indonesia, a household name in sanitary napkins in the region, Dr Harlina says misconceptions about menstruation are gradually disappearing as women now have the knowledge to question many traditional claims.

Practices such as avoiding the consumption of coconut water or pineapple during menstruation are not supported by clinical evidence.

Still more damaging is the belief that a woman’s monthly bleeding is a divine punishment or curse.

Dr Harlina says that because menstruation involves blood and a woman’s private part, confusing and frightening messages were, for centuries, passed down to women, causing unnecessary stress and anxiety.

But whatever people’s views on menstruation, a girl’s first period is a significant event. It reflects not just her transition to adulthood but the fact that she’s healthy and normal.



Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.