menstrual hygiene isn't important to us
The word hygiene means “the degree to which people keep themselves or their environment clean, especially to prevent disease.” Menstrual Hygiene is a common phrase used to describe menstrual care through the use of products as period management.
However, Menstrual Hygiene implies that menstruation or menstrual fluid is dirty and needs to be decontaminated.
It’s true that cleanliness is important to our health when it comes to periods, too. But, compared to other bodily functions we deem necessary for hygiene management: body odor, sweat, mucus, urine and feces, menstrual fluid seems to have a disportionate representation as “dirty” and “unclean.” Periods also have more social repercussions when there is any sign of “leakage” or “uncleanliness.”
Menstruation is a healthy, normal and important part of human existence. Having a healthy period is a vital sign of one’s overall health. Menstrual fluid consists of blood, cervical and vaginal fluid, mucus and endometrial tissue. Learning about our menstrual fluid can clue us in on our body’s wellness!
Most menstruators would agree that period care products are a helpful and necessary tool for having a period. The thought of free bleeding through our clothes and onto furniture is not ideal or practical for most of our lifestyles.
That being said, it’s the way society expects menstruation to be hidden and never shown, that is harmful and creates taboo. This taboo surrounding menstruation, and by using the terminology “menstrual hygiene,” suggests that periods are unclean, prevents body literacy, creates shame of our bodies and perpetuates the need to hide our menses.
That is why we see the term Menstrual Hygiene as harmful. Try using Period Care or Menstrual Care instead. It may seem small, but the way we talk about periods will shift society’s view of periods as being normal and healthy.
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“New Book Busts Myths About Menstruation Spread By Public Health Groups.” https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/01/30/689943045/new-book-busts-myths-about-menstruation-spread-by-public-health-groups
Chris Bobel. The Managed Body: https://works.bepress.com/chris_bobel/