At 50 Cents. Period., we realize that the subjects of menstruation, women’s rights and reproductive health are broad in scope and embedded deeply in the cultures and politics of any given society. Therefore, each woman’s experience is unique, reflecting her place within that social construct. To that end, we’ve gathered a few of our favorite sources, which have helped us to understand more deeply the powerful voices of our sisters across the globe. If we’ve missed one that has spoken to you, please let us know.
• Blood Magic: The Anthropology of Menstruation, ed. Thomas Buckley & Alma Gottlieb
• The Curse: Confronting the Last Unmentionable Taboo: Menstruation, by Karen Houppert
• The Wise Wound: Menstruation and Everywoman, by Penelope Shuttle & Peter Redgrove
• Under Wraps: A History of Menstrual Hygiene Technology, by Sharra L. Vostral
• From Menarche to Menopause: Reproductive Lives of Peasant Women in Two Cultures,
by Yewoubdar Beyene
• The Modern Period: Menstruation in Twentieth-Century America, by Lara Freidenfelds
• Blood, Bread and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World, by Judy Grahn
• What Makes Women Sick: Gender and the Political Economy of Health, by Lesley Doyal
• From Outrage to Courage: Women Taking Action for Health and Justice, by Anne Firth Murray
• My Little Red Book, by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff
• Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation, by Elissa Stein & Susan Kim
• Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
• The Vagina Monologues, by Eve Ensler
• Necessary Targets: A Story of Women and War, by Eve Ensler
• A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer: Writings to Stop Violence Against Women and Girls, ed. Eve Ensler & Mollie Doyle
• I am an Emotional Creature, by Eve Ensler
• Struggle for Gender Justice: Justice Sunanda Bhandare Memorial Lectures, ed. Murlidhar C. Bhandare
• Women’s Studies in India: A Reader, ed. Mary E. John
• The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant
• The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why it Matters, by Rose George
• A Walk to Beautiful (www.walktobeautiful.com)
• Not Yet Rain (www.notyetrain.org)
• A Powerful Noise (www.apowerfulnoise.org)
• Moolaade (www.imdb.com/title/tt0416991)
• Flow: How did a Handful of Corporations Steal our Water? (www.flowthefilm.com)
Articles/Blogs/In the News:
• Japanese Artist Creates Wearable Menstruation Machine
• Nepal: Emerging from Menstrual Quarantine
• India: Poor Quality of Education in Government Schools
• Menstruation & Ramadan
• Uganda: Sanitary Pads Keep Girls in School
• Boss Orders Women to Wear Period Bracelets
• The Red Tent (World Pulse Blog)
• Gender Justice Reduces Poverty
• Sanitary Napkins Made from Water Hyacinth
• Death of Tribal Girls in Gates Foundation-funded HPV Vaccine trial “fobbed off as suicide"
• Does Menstruation Keep Girls Out of School?
• Sanitary Napkins Can Reduce Cervical Cancer Risk
• Personal Hygiene Vending Machine in Tamil Nadu
• The Feminization of Poverty
• Low Cost Sanitary Napkins for Rural Girls
• D.I.Y. Foreign Aid Revolution
• National Geographic Explores India's Child Bride Phenomenon
• An Indian Toilet Museum's Public Health Mission (Public Radio International)
• Why are the World's Women Disappearing?
• Study Finds 70% of India's Women Can't Afford Sanitary Napkins; 30% in Northern Regions Drop School after Beginning Menstruation
• Indian Government Seeks to Subsidize 6-Packs of Sanitary Napkins
DECCAN CHRONICLE ARTICLES, ON-GOING MENSTRUATION SERIES (cached):
Menstrual Blood Bank Offers Hope of New Cure, 9 March 2011
A menstrual blood stem cell banking service was launched in a first of its kind in the country in India on Tuesday.
With research showing that menstrual blood, normally discarded as unsanitary waste, contains large number of self-renewing stem cells, these cells can now be stored for use in therapy.
The stem cells multiply rapidly and can grow into other types of cells and develop into neural, cardiac and cartilage tissue as well as fat and bone.
LifeCell International’s LifeCell Femme will preserve menstrual stem cells for use in treatment, said Ajit Kumar, chief scientific officer, LifeCell International.
Noting that stem cell technology is the future of medicine, he said, “When it comes to growing heart muscle, the connective tissue cells in menstrual blood have a success rate 100 times higher than the 0.2-0.3 per cent for stem cells taken from human bone marrow.”
Every month during a woman’s menstrual period the uterine lining, the endometrium, is shed along with extra blood and tissues. This lining of the uterus contains a large number of mesenchymal stem cells that have growth possibilities a thousand fold higher than other stem cells.
These cells are unique as they have many properties and characteristics similar to both bone marrow and embryonic stem cells.
Although menstrual stem cell technology has not yet been utilised to date in human therapy, the collective body of ongoing research could potentially use such treatment for a host of medical conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, Atherosclerosis, diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, Parkinson’s disease, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Menstrual blood can also potentially overcome the problem of immune rejection in female patients as they could use their own stem cells for therapy.
These cells can be easily collected with painless and non-invasive procedures and processed and harvested at affordable rates.
68 Percent of Rural Women Can’t Afford Sanitary Napkins, 27 February 2011
Mumbai: Almost 68 per cent rural women cannot afford sanitary napkins available in the market today, according to a survey.
The survey, carried out by leading global information and measurement company AC Nielsen, and reviewed and endorsed by NGO Plan India, reveals the dismal state of feminine hygiene care in India.
According to gynaecologists, the use of alternative sanitary care measures such as unsterilised cloths, sand and ash make women susceptible to infections and diseases.
The study found that awareness on the basic health and feminine hygiene is very low, with 75 per cent rural women lacking adequate knowledge on menstrual hygiene and care.
On the issue of affordability of good quality sanitary care, it found 81 per cent rural women use unsterilised cloths since they are cheaper and 68 per cent said they cannot afford to buy sanitary napkins available in the market.
Adolescent girls in rural India are unable to attend up to 50 days of schooling in a year due to inadequate menstrual care, it said.
The survey was conducted in October with the participation of 1,033 rural women in the menstrual age group and 151 gynaecologists from different parts of India.
Altogether 97 per cent gynaecologists surveyed believe that sanitary napkins can act as a preventive measure against reproductive tract infection.
The survey said among the adolescent rural girls, 23 per cent (aged 12-18 years) discontinue studies due to inadequate sanitary facilities in schools.
Of the 355 million menstruating women in India, only 12 per cent use sanitary napkins.
The figure is abysmal, compared to countries like China, where majority of women use sanitary napkins, the survey maintained.
They cope with sub-optimal alternatives like cloth, sand, husk and even ash, which have severe consequences on the health, education and reproductivity of girls and women, it said.
"Menstruation is a subject that has culturally been considered a taboo and is entrenched with misconceptions and disregard, with little cognisance of the hazards of inadequate menstrual protection."
"The survey has highlighted how the subject of feminine hygiene is grossly neglected at all levels," said Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India.
Over 30 per cent surveyed girls said they dropped out from school after they started menstruating, she said.
Poor financial condition does not allow majority of the women to buy quality sanitary napkins, the survey said, adding of cloth users, 45 per cent reuse cloth and 70 per cent dry them in the shade, increasing chances of infections.
Research shows that Reproductive Tract Infection (RTI) incidence was 70 per cent more common among those with unhygienic sanitary practices, it said.
East India emerged as the region where the state of feminine hygiene is significantly poorer. Amongst women who use cloth, over 70 per cent in East said they feel insecure during periods and wished they knew more on the subject.
The survey said 64 per cent of gynaecologists noted that sanitary napkins can act as a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of cervical cancer among women.
The Enigma of Endometriosis, 8 November 2010
Endometriosis is a disease that has fascinated gynecologists for more than a century. Illness worrying, damaged etriosis affects millions of women and adolescents worldwide. He is responsible for causing pain ranging from mild to debilitating loss of missed work and countless hours of class, for some, infertility or pregnancy loss, and more. A progressive and disabling disease, endometriosis affects 2-18 percent of women in the reproductive age group, 5 to 21 percent of women complaining of chronic pelvic pain and about 5 to 50 percent of women suffering from infertility or design problems.
Despite major advances in gynecology, the diagnosis of endometriosis remains a challenge. Is the growth of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) outside the uterine cavity. The endometrial tissue has an innate ability to invade and acquire a blood supply in the implementation process (retrograde menstruation). Blood poured from the coating during menstruation has no outlet so that it collects, propagates and leads to scarring and adhesions between adjacent organs. In ancient times, early marriage and motherhood means less risk of endometriosis. Today, an increased incidence is due in part to changes in lifestyle and a trend toward amplified laparoscopies. Some symptoms of this disease include early menarche, short menstrual cycles, long periods of menstruation, family history of endometriosis (genetic correlation). There is also the risk of developing carcinoma if an endometrioma of the ovary is not treated. Caucasians are at greater risk of developing endometriosis than their African American counterparts.
A large majority of women are not even aware of endometriosis. Most have no symptoms, others may have a pain in the abdomen, lower back pain, dysmenorrhea (pain before and during menstruation), dysparunia, painful defecation, infertility and excessive bleeding during menstruation . As this is a disease in which there are episodes of growth and decline of symptoms, the diagnosis is made by a detailed history, pelvic examination, various radiological examinations such as USG, MRI and a blood test ( CA125). However, laparoscopy is the key to confirm the presence of endometriosis.
design may or may not be a cure, but it was noted that most of the time it leads to permanent relief. Chinese medicine herbal has been found useful in the treatment of endometriosis, but more randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm its effectiveness. Another chemical called pycnogenal located in the pines that grow along the French coastal region is said to reduce the signs of endometriosis by as much as 33 percent. Some factors such as smoking, use of oral contraceptives and pregnancy decreases the chances of developing endometriosis. IVF is the answer to those planning a pregnancy, but failed, despite treatment. Often, changes in lifestyle is recommended for adolescents who endemetriosis. A healthy diet, moderate exercise and relaxation such as yoga and meditation can help. The author is chief of gynecology and obstetrics, the Asian Institute of Medical Sciences.
Menstrual Pain May Change Brain Structure, 11 August 2010
Washington, Aug. 11: Menstrual cramps, the most common gynaecological disorder in women, may cause alterations throughout the nervous system, a new study has claimed.
Researchers at the National Yang-Ming University in Taipei have said that the lower abdominal pain, known as primary dysmenorrhea (PDM), which starts with the onset of menstrual flow can alter brain structure.
The researchers said they found abnormal changes in the structure of the brain in PDM patients, whether or not they are in fact experiencing pain.
Lead investigator, Professor Jen-Chuen Hsieh, said: “This shows that not only sustained pain but also cyclic occurring menstrual pain can result in longer-lasting central changes.”
Nepal School Expels 29 for Menstruating, 26 April 2010
Kathmandu, April 25: Less than a week after a religious leader in Iran said earthquakes were caused by women who were promiscuous and wore revealing clothes, a school in Nepal's west has expelled 29 girls for “angering the gods” as they had begun to menstruate, a report said.
The Siddheswar Higher Secondary School in Doti, a district in farwestern Nepal, has expelled 29 girl students from its hostel because they had begun to menstruate, the Naya Patrika daily reported.
“The gods were angered (by the menstruating students) and began inflicting the others too with hysteria,” the hostel in-charge reportedly said. “So we had to expel them.”
Matisara Belawar, an eighth grader, had been staying in the hostel since last year, the tabloid said. Being differently abled, she was sent to the hostel so that she would not have to walk for long distances to go to school.
“After we went home during the vacation, we were sent word that we should not return,” she said. “How will I be able to continue my studies now?”
Five years after it was banned, Nepal continues to adhere to the infamous “chhaupadi” custom, a tradition that regards menstruating women to be accursed and unholy. In many families even today, they are not allowed to live in the house but have to stay in a cowshed outside. Girls are not allowed to go to school or even take a bath. The superstitious continue to believe that if a menstruating woman touches a tree or man, they will die.