Cultural views on Menstruation

Cultural views on Menstruation

Every society has its own cultural views on menstruation. Some communities consider menstruation divine, and they even go to the extent of celebrating it. In these communities, they treat menstruating women with utmost respect and love because they view menstruating women as sacred.

There are some communities, however, that regard menstruation as filthy. This gets worse as some even go to the extent of prohibiting mentioning the word menstruation in public. To them, menstruation is not miraculous. It’s not magical. It’s taboo. They do not treat menstruating women the same as other women. For example, in some traditional communities, they isolate menstruating women and deny them the opportunity to attend a family gathering or worship places. This is because some communities view menstruation blood as unclean.

Today, most countries allow mentioning of menstruation in public, especially during sex education for young women. It's also common in the media and advertisements.  In most societies, it's the role of the mums to talk about menstruation with their daughters. Lately, some dads have stepped up their game and they communicate with their daughters effortlessly about menstruation, especially single dads. It's their responsibility.

Religious views on Menstruation

Most Christian churches do not have any specific rules about menstruation. Therefore, they allow menstruating women in the church. In these churches, it's not a taboo for a menstruating woman to attend church gatherings. This is not the case for other Christian churches. For example, the Coptic Orthodox Church does not allow menstruating women to attend  the church because of its ‘purity laws’

The Islam community views menstruation rather positively. During menstruation, it's the decision of a woman to attend prayer gatherings as the Islam community allows them to visit the mosque. However, the Quran forbids sexual intercourse during menstruation. It allows partners to get intimate and engage in other sexual acts but sexual intercourse. If a man notices that his woman is on her period during sex, he must stop immediately.

In Buddhism, menstruation is not a big deal. In fact,  Buddhists consider menstruation to be another form of the human body excretion that only happens once a month. In Japan, a menstruating woman may choose to or not to bow during prayer depending on their state of comfort. However, in China, they prohibit menstruating women from touching or praying to certain statues.

Hinduisms are a special case. This is because they have various views on menstruation. First, they isolate menstruating women from the places of worship until their periods are over. Second, their culture prohibits men from having sexual intercourse or other sexual acts with their women during menstruation.

Menstruation views in  Africa 

In Africa, different countries have various ideologies on menstruation. The most common view in the traditional African setting is that when a woman undergoes her first menstruation cycle, it's a sign from the gods she is mature and ready for sex and marriage.

Once a woman has her first period, she embarks into a thorough back-to-back initiation process. It's the role of older women in traditional African society to educate younger women. During initiation, they teach the women how to get through menstruation, about sex, and also marriage. It's also a taboo for men to talk about menstruation in the traditional  African setup.

In countries like the Ivory Coast, they compare menstruation to the flowering of a tree. A tree has to flower before it feeds the world with its abundant fruits.

Menstruation Education

In most societies, they teach menstruation education as part of sexual education. According to recent studies, parents, especially mothers, are the first source of menstruation information to their daughters. Friends and peers are the second sources of menstruation information to women who are having their menstruation cycle. Teenage women share a lot in common. Therefore,  it's easier for them to discuss menstruation between themselves.

Other sources of menstruation information are media, the Internet, and books. Each society should put in place proper educational programs that will enlighten the women on menstruation.  To curate effective programs, they must involve qualified sexual health experts.

However, in menstruation advertisements, the media cannot portray menstruation directly. We see this when they use a blue color liquid instead of a red color liquid to pour on the sanitary pad.

Back to blog