Fresh ways of embracing womanhood
In celebration of Menstruation Health month, it's clear that Mzansi's women are paying more attention to their nether region, writes Somaya Stockenstroom.
Periods literally cost an arm and a leg. Infections are the order of the day, infertility is on the rise and some women are just fed up with how their vaginas look and feel. Thankfully, there have been many improvements when it comes to a ladies bits.
Menstrual Hygiene Day is an annual awareness highlighting the importance of good menstrual hygiene management initiated by the German-based NGO WASH United in 2014. It aims to benefit women and girls worldwide and encourage females to talk freely about menstruation, smash the shame and break taboos.
In Mzansi, the hashtag #MyFirstPeriod trended on Twitter on Tuesday, as many women shared heartbreaking stories of their first menstruation experience. Many women shared how they were beaten up for disclosing the discovery whilst others hid it because they were afraid they had done something wrong.
"Traumatic. Grandma did the whole Tswana tradition (Bosetse jwa go Rafola) on me. Whole week indoors, covered with a blanket, no visitors. Was even sjamboked!. #myfirstPeriod" tweeted @Lebo_ca.
There are still many communities today where the topic is taboo. There are also thousands of girls who simply can't afford sanitary towels. Shamila Ramjawan, reigning Mrs. Joburg 2019 and founder of Princess D Menstrual cup, has helped millions of these girls. She realised girls would miss school for up to seven days in a month due to menstruation.
Currently, the product is available in over 20 countries and 50 pharmacies in South Africa. Professional athlete, Caster Semenya is an official brand ambassador making more girls aware that it's natural to bleed once a month.
The funnel-shaped cup is made of medical grade silicone and is FDA approved. She explains that although it was meant for struggling girls, they have since opened the market and made it available for all women as it's also environmentally friendly.
"It is eco-friendly and cost-
effective. Our retail price is R300, you get the PrincessD Menstrual Cup as well as the compact Sterilizer Cup that can handle boiling water. It's free from toxins or bleaches, that are harmful to the body," she says, and explained how it is used.
"It folds into various shapes such as "C-fold, U-fold, Push Down-fold or Rose". Fold and insert like a tampon. It opens up against the vaginal wall and forms a suction so it provides leak-free protection for up to 12 hours depending on the flow."
There are two options available: The size 1 (small) is for younger girls as it is 15ml. Younger girls tend to bleed a little less. Then the 20ml size 2 (large) is for older women as they tend to bleed more.
"The ideal is to empty your cup twice a day," says Ramjawan. She explains that the cup can be used for more than ten years, saving loads of money.
"While sanitary products absorb, menstrual cups collect. You see what comes out and become more familiar with your body. It's important that you bath/shower at least once a day. Also, ensure that you sterilize your PrincessD Menstrual cup in the sterilizer cup with boiling water at the end of your cycle for 15 minutes.
Other options are:
- Reusable cotton pads made up of cotton layers and encased in waterproof fabric complete with wings.
- Panties with absorbent fabric built into the lining and can absorb up to two tampons' worth of blood.