For every organization focused on adolescent reproductive health, May 28th is a day to plan for. The World Menstrual Hygiene Day is an annual awareness day to highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management. Menstruation is a biological process which every woman should experience but societal norms in certain spheres have tried to stigmatize periods. However, there are non-profit organizations like EndoSurvivors, committed to ending period taboos, period poverty and period shame.
In collaboration with the Ogudu Youth Friendly Centre of the Lagos State Ministry of Health and Lagos State Primary HealthCare Board, the EndoSurvivors International Foundation (ESIF) empowered 144 adolescents with life-changing information on menstrual hygiene management and endometriosis.
In her lecture to the girls, Mrs Olivia Nwankudu the Founder of EndoSurvivors International Foundation explained what menstruation actually means, the anatomy of a woman’s reproductive system, period tracking, use of good hygiene products while menstruating (save money to buy these items), how to use a sanitary pad, how long to wear a sanitary pad, how to dispose of sanitary pads, hand-washing, bathing, changing underwear, nutrition and general hygiene tips when menstruating and indeed for all time.
“Think of your period as a monthly report card of your entire system”, she said. “The regularity, smell, colour of blood, heaviness and pain levels experienced when menstruating could say something about your overall well-being. Please pay attention to it”.
Speaking on menstrual pain, she delved into a core area of her Foundation’s existence; which is teaching the public, especially girls and women about the signs/symptoms of endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a gynaecological condition which results from the presence of endometrial tissue in parts outside the uterus eg ovaries, appendix, fallopian tubes, etc. In her well-received Endometriosis 101 magazine which was distributed free to participants, she highlighted on different pain levels as identified by specialists. She encouraged these young women to seek medical attention if they experience menstrual pain or pelvic pain that constantly interferes with their school work and social lives. According to her, “if endometriosis can be diagnosed on time, it will save a lot of pain, confusion and mistakes”.
In an interesting question and answer session, one student asked about the importance of food while menstruating. Olivia expounded on the relevance of feeding well with emphasis on fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, roots like ginger and turmeric, clean water and home-cooked meals; while taking less of artificial sugars and processed foods- not only during menstruation but everyday.
Each of the beneficiaries received a pack of sanitary pads and refreshment.