‘Do not touch the pickle’, ‘do not enter a holy place’- popular rules for menstruating women in India – Survey

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Menstrual care startup Avni concluded a survey of over 1000 women on International Health Day.

New Delhi, April 8: On surveying more than 1000 women, Avni- a menstrual hygiene startup, figured out the real-life facts related to women and menstrual hygiene practices in India. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Avni concluded the survey with a thorough analysis of the responses received from individual women to share the unspoken findings related to periods which has been a hush-hush topic for ages.

The survey reinstated that conversation around menstrual hygiene remains taboo in society, as over 33 % of respondents said they had no knowledge of periods before experiencing their first menstruation. While 35 % of women had little idea about the phenomenon. This becomes grave as over 47.4% of women experienced severe abdominal pain on their first menstruation. Dealing with menstruation for the first time and having no knowledge highlights the wide persistent gap in society. 

Sharing the eye’s breaking event following the first menstruation, a whopping 88 % of women said that their mother was the first person they reached out to discuss their first period. While 8.2 % of women sought help from their friends first. 

Unravelling the hidden demon in society, 28% of women said they were put in isolation during their periods. In fact, the survey revealed that 32.6 % of women have deliberately made excuses to avoid admitting that they are menstruating at some point in their life

“The survey has brought a lot of existing concerns of the society related to menstruation. We are in 2022, and women have still advised isolation instead of care during their periods. More importantly, the majority of the women were left hung out to dry when they experienced their first menstruation when they had no clue about what their body was going through. Needless to say,  they were still at their tender age. Proper knowledge would have helped them prepare mentally and physically. The situation demands an accelerated approach towards the wider spread of information and social evolution,” said  Mrs. Sujata Pawar- Co-Founder of Avni- A conscious menstrual healthcare startup.

A lot of misconceptions that women faced in regard to what a menstruating woman should follow were shared in the survey, including – women on periods must avoid holy practices or even entering a holy place, must avoid touching pickles, should not workout, must not enter the kitchen or touch common food items or common utensils, should not wash hair, must not have sex while menstruating, must not touch Tulsi plant or else it will die, the woman becomes impure during periods, must avoid dairy products etc. 

Highlighting the physical challenges women face beyond cramps during periods, around 50% of the women said they face skin challenges, including rashes and irritation using the regular chemical-based sanitary pads. Around 49.9 % of women tried over three different sanitary pad brands before settling for their current. Following the foray of new-age organic healthcare products, the survey brought to light the scenario wherein women have tried eco-friendly menstrual products- over 58.9 % of women tried organic cotton pads, over 19.2 % of women tried menstrual cups, 16.3 % of women respondents said that they tried antimicrobial reusable cloth-based pads. 45.8 % of the respondents expressed interest in permanently switching to eco-friendly menstrual products.

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