“It was bad, we had to hide our cramps and make up excuses to go to toilet each time to check for stains and we’d get judged for over visiting restroom. we were told to be extra special to be secretive and not let any boys know about it, if possible to stay far away from boys, we weren’t able to get any assistance of male teacher even in emergencies because we were awkward about confronting a male teacher. there used to be interventions about periods for girls and we were given pads but we had to hide them and be secretive about interventions, and lie to any guy friend when they asked ‘what was the meeting about?’. All in all, it was awkward, we were made to believe that periods was a taboo topic and we had to be kept secret even if we were in pain.

-Kiaya Kurlekar

My experience was okay. Actually, after a time every girl gets habitual of periods. Though, those days were very painful.

– Bhavya Bajaj

Periods have always been difficult for me. Since I suffer from PCOD, they’re extra painful and emotionally draining. Whenever I was on my period during school days, I took leave on days when my flow was heavy, pain killers were the only way to avoid cramps and I had to constantly check for period stains. Changing sanitary napkin also seemed like a huge task because you couldn’t really walk with one in your hand. So, I always kept one in my pocket or smuggled it out from my bag while going to the washroom. Periods made me emotionally very vulnerable. Whatever I was feeling or thinking, it took a toll on me. It wasn’t always easy to calm down and take some time off.

-Nandini Bhrara

It wasn’t a pleasant one. I had heavy flow and cramps were real bad. I couldn’t take off on my days and had staining issue twice.

-Yashika Satija

It was the worst thing for me throughout my years at school. I used to have severe cramps, back aches and major mood swings. The heat and the lack of air-conditioning in the class made the situation even worse, sweating along with the blood flow resulting in many vaginal infections and throw in the irritable mood at almost all times of the day. All the girls in my class were called for a meeting once which talked about the issue of sanitary disposal and addressed many other relevant problems. However, we were told to have no discussion about the same with boys and it was all done in utmost secrecy.

-Khushi Gupta

We asked girls about their different experiences with periods in school and whether they could cope with it easily or not. We also asked them whether they used sentences like ‘I am down’ or ‘it is that time of the month’ to convey to others that they were on their period. A lot of us had also been taught to wrap our pads/ tampons/ menstrual cups in newspapers and carry it to the washroom in utmost secrecy, so we further asked them if they participated in this undocumented rule.

While going through the answers, we found that most of the girls who responded, talked about various hardships they faced while they were on their period. These varied from severe cramps, mood swings, nausea, cravings, to not being able to take leave from school or escape the exhaustive schedule of performing during sports or physical education classes. Talking to the teachers especially male teachers proved to be a herculean task due to pre-existing reservations with respect to talking about periods openly. A lot of times, teachers even refused to let the individual use the washroom or go to the infirmary. To top it of most of the classes did no have air conditioners and the heat during the day made periods more uncomfortable, making the person irritable along with the need for constant intake of medicines to survive the dreadful cramps.

It is a common practice amongst people to hide the fact that they are on their periods due to the taboo ridden nature which is associated with it across different religions and cultures. This data, although accumulated based on a handful of responses, reflects how a maximum number of girls still feel the need to hide these menstrual products.

Data on girls who carried their pads/ tampons/ menstrual cups to the washroom, hidden in a paper or in their uniform pockets

Out of the 45 girls who replied to this question, 35 girls carried their pads/ tampons/ menstrual cups to the washroom in secrecy, hidden in a paper or in a uniform pocket and 10 girls carried them openly.

We are all so accustomed to using statements like “I am down”, “It is that time of the month” , “Ladies problem/Girl Problem” and many more, that we fail to realise the origin of such euphemisms and their use as a substitute to periods. Such euphemisms are used to escape the embarrassment, shame, and the mockery that the girl/ woman may be subject to if revealed that they are on their PERIOD. This again brings into picture how a natural process like menstruation is seen as something to be ashamed of in our society.

Data on girls who did or didn’t use words like “I am down” or “Its that time of the month”

Out of the 42 girls who replied to this question, 34 girls used words like ‘I am down’ or ‘it is that time of the month’ to convey to others they she was on period which 8 girls did not use any such statements.

These responses speaks volumes about the kind of hushed conversation and taboos that accompanies MENSTRUATION even amongst educated individuals. These are the very practices that must be ended.

It can be seen that most of the responses talk about a very hard time that girls had to face in school while dealing with periods. They faced a lot of inconveniences in performance and varying health issues. From the first time they got their period at school to the emotional outbreak over the use of pads and keeping up with the occurrence of such a massive change. From taking a leave from school during the menstrual cycle to rushing to the medical room during sports periods. From telling others that they are “down” to whispering to the teacher why they need to go to the washroom. These are just a few experiences of  girls at school which are shared by many others and the responsibility of being on a secret mission that accompanied the journey of periods every month

It was awful, I was in the 7th grade though I did have some knowledge about periods but I knew nothing about how to use a pad. I cried for an hour straight because of the changes I was going through. The pains which I felt back then were too powerful and for the first I wanted to be a boy.

-Srishti Negi

I can’t express the feelings , being in school sports team and being a NCC CADET it was all about staying outdoors, running around , exercising It was all fun until the painful week knocks at my door , it was difficult at times to manage both my pain and performance and on top of that worrying about those nasty stains

Ipshita jain

 It was good…I was knowing about my date of period so I used to be ready for that. But once it happened that my school uniform got the stain and that moment & day was too awkward for me .

Shrishti Mishra.

Pretty hushed. We got basic sex ed, but topics like menstrual hygiene were taught to girls separately and we weren’t even educated about things like pcod and pcos. You couldn’t miss your examinations or even weekly tests if you experienced severe dysmenorrhoea. girls wouldnt talk about menstruation openly. You were also supposed to pay 10 rupees to purchase a pad from the school nurse but other medicines were given free of cost.

-Anindita Audhkhasi

It was a very uncomfortable experience, to say the least. We had skirts as our uniform and an open campus,wind everywhere we go. Summers were awful with no air conditioning and winters were horrifying with Delhi’s extreme weathers. To explain to teachers was a herculean task and many of them refused to comply to our requests and pleads.

-Manya Nagarajan

I started my periods during my class 7 final exams and felt wet in the middle of the exam, since we had had many workshops on periods in our school before hand , I knew what to expect when something like that happened at least in terms of the spotting and the use of sanitary pad. I excused myself from the invigilator and took the pad from my bag, but I was shy so I hid it in my sleeves or clothes and ran to the washroom and put the pad. This was only the start when I used to just have very little spotting and staining. But then onwards every time I had my periods, I remember being very conscious about it. I was always scared if I would stain my skirt and I would frequently visit the washroom during classes to check for leakage. I used to wear skirts so I thought my skirt may stain so I started very really well fitted panties during periods along with cycling shorts inside the skirt to keep the pad from moving and thus staining. Usually hid my pad in my sleeve or in skirt pocket while carrying it to the loo to change…often asked friends to check for stains

-Ankita Gupta

2 thoughts on “Girl’s experiences with periods in school

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