We need to involve men and boys in conversations about menstruation to dispel stigmas and myths surrounding the subject.
Menstruation is a natural biological process that women experience every month. It involves the shedding of the uterine lining mixed with the release of blood. It is an important topic that needs to be discussed openly and honestly as it affects half of the world’s population. Because men don’t menstruate, it has been only a women’s problem for centuries and that urgently needs to change.
Dr. Tejal Kanwar, gynecologist and menstrual consultant at Ujaas, says: “Menstruation has a long history of being taboo in different cultures and the menstruating woman is often looked down upon as she is considered unclean and unclean. By breaking the silence and engaging in conversations on this topic, we can build understanding, empathy and support for women It is essential that men, the other half of the population, are aware of the impact it has on women’s daily lives so that they can support women, be more sensitive to their needs and contribute to creating a more inclusive society.”
“Having conversations about menstruation with men and boys is an ongoing process. It takes patience and ongoing efforts to promote inclusiveness and dispel stigmas and myths surrounding it,” she adds.
How to involve men and boys in menstrual health
Dr. Cultivation suggested a few steps that can help achieve this goal:
- Education as top priority: Many men and boys lack accurate knowledge about the biological process, its significance and the challenges women face in school and work. Education should start in schools in an inclusive environment with boys and girls and all details around menstrual health, reproductive health and sexual health are covered in lesson plans. Basic knowledge needs to be shared and misconceptions cleared up.
- Inclusive environment: Provide a safe and non-judgmental space where everyone feels comfortable talking about periods. Encourage respect and open dialogue around the topic.
- Encourage men to actively listen to women: Men should listen to women’s concerns about menstruation and validate their feelings and have compassion for them. They should consider the emotional and social aspects and discuss with women how to support and help mitigate the various challenges women face.
- Help bust the myths: Men need to talk openly about the cultural taboos and challenge and question the norms that perpetuate discomfort.
- Involvement of men in various initiatives: Men should volunteer and participate in awareness campaigns and support policy changes. They should emphasize their potential role in promoting gender equality.
- Menstrual products should be treated as part of everyday life, just like buying any other product.
- Tackle common issues about how to properly dispose of sanitary pads and learn about different menstrual products and keep up with the basics. Provide resources for further information and discourage false and misinformation by only sharing reputable websites and educational materials. Reading content should be freely available and also easily accessible.
- Talk to sons: Parents should discuss and sensitize their sons and also seek the help of the school counselor to create awareness in their children. Community leaders can organize educational sessions for entire communities.
“The aim is to promote understanding and encourage men to become allies to break the stigma around menstruation. Including men will create supportive brothers, empathetic fathers and understanding partners and that will help build social solidarity and a confident partnership,” concludes Dr. Tejal.
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