It took a man with a woman’s name to tell us all that Only Women Bleed, and in 1975 some of us felt a bit icky on several levels. The double entendre was not lost on Alice Cooper fans, yet today over forty years later, the concept still hasn’t quite gotten through: only women bleed and we don’t actually do it on purpose.
It’s a thing. It happens. To some it is a joyous rite of passage and to others, as its antiquated named suggests, it’s a curse.
Not a choice
To reduce it to nuts and bolts, when a female reaches a certain age and a certain weight (about 34 kilos), her body, without her permission, decides she is an adult and therefore able to reproduce humans.
Her ovaries via one of her fallopian tubes will release an egg that has nestled within her since before she was born. If within about four to six days that egg is not fertilised, the lining of the womb where the egg was deposited falls away and is expelled via the vagina. This is what is most commonly called, in grownup circles, her period. She’s menstruating, and our year 8 biology books will tell us that, left unfertilised, those eggs will be expelled at a rate of about one every 28 days.
A natural event
Menstruating is a natural and very normal part of a woman’s life for about 35 years, and most women choose to not leave traces of their DNA on every flat surface so they take measures, as my mother would say ‘to keep themselves nice’.
Governments fail to prioritise periods – why?
From menstrual cup to cloth, menstruation skirt or homemade sanitary pad, a new photo gallery from WaterAid highlights the many and varied ways in which women around the world manage their periods.
Millions of females menstruate every month, yet governments across the world continue to ignore the issue and its associated links to women’s health, economic and social wellbeing not to mention the stigma
No woman or girl should have to manage their period without access to the sanitary product of their choice.
At a minimum, women everywhere need clean water for washing themselves and any reusable sanitary materials, and decent private toilets that give them space and, privacy, as well as access to adequate and acceptable sanitary products and disposal methods.
For a start, let’s all start practising saying the word.
WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets, and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere, within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 34 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 25.8 million people with clean water and 25.1 million people with decent toilets.
For more information, visit WaterAid or facebook.com/WaterAidAustralia.