THE IMPORTANCE OF MENSTRUAL HYGIENE EDUCATION TO ADOLESCENCE STAGE IN TANZANIA

By Rosemary Balyagati – Art in Tanzania internship

Menstruation (also termed period or bleeding) is the process in a woman of discharging (through the vagina) blood and other materials from the lining of the uterus at about one monthly interval, from puberty until menopause (ceasing of regular menstrual cycles), except during pregnancy. This discharging process lasts about 3-5 days.

What are the signs and symptoms of menstruation?

Beside the bleeding, other signs and symptoms of menstruation may include headache, acne, bloating, pains in the low abdomen, tiredness, mood changes, food cravings, breast soreness and diarrhea.

When does menstruation begin? When does it end?

The menstrual cycle is a hormonal driven cycle; day 1 is the first day of your period (bleeding) while day 14 is the approximate day you ovulate, if an egg is not fertilized hormone levels eventually drop and at about day 25 the egg begins to dissolve, and the cycle begins again with the period at about day 30. Menstruation begins day 1 and normally ends days 3-5 of the menstrual cycle.

The average age for a girl to get her first period in the range of age is about 8 to 15 years old. Women usually have periods until about ages 45 to 55.

So at this average age of her first period is the time for menstrual hygienic education has to be given to girls.

Importance of menstrual hygienic education at adolescences stage.

Menstruation is a basic right for women and girls around the world, in many countries there are huge barriers to Menstrual Hygienic education for girls living in poverty. Menstrual hygienic education is essential in ensuring girls get the support they need on their periods and to able to ask questions about menstrual challenges. Menstrual hygienic education is a step towards removing shame from talking about periods for many girls in countries like Tanzania.

Menstruation is seen as taboo in Tanzania; therefore girls feel uncomfortable talking to family, peers and teachers, let alone attending school during their cycle. Most girls during their menstrual period experience stigmatization, this excludes girls from learning about their own bodies and from opportunities to learn about hygiene and use of sanitary products.

Lack of sexual education in schools, particularly in Tanzania, means that boys add to the stigma around periods. Girls are embarrassed by comments made by boys who do not understand menstruation. Menstrual hygienic Education is the key for both male and female students to aid in eradicating period poverty.

Menstrual hygienic education breaks down the barriers faced by girls in Tanzania and many other developing countries. Cultural barriers often stand in the way of providing girls with knowledge and ability to manage their periods, therefore menstrual education provides an open space to break down taboos. By normalizing menstrual education schools will become better equipped with period-friendly toilets and sexual education classes that will benefit all students.

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