Stigma: Menstruation

In my previous post, Stigma: Mental Health, I shared the mechanisms and origin of stigma on mental health. Another topic, that unfortunately is marked in most cultures, is the stigma of shame associated, with menstruators’ periods. If you do a quick Google search about the stigma on menstruators’ periods, what you will find is that in most cultures and in some religions there’s a taboo associated with periods and evil spirits, shame, and embarrassment surrounding sexual reproduction. 

An example that perfectly illustrates what I mean is seen in the Hindu faith; when women are on their period they must take some time away from their home “to purify” and once their period is over, they can return back home to continue with their chores (Garg, & Anand, 2015). Sadly, this is also found in traditional Jewish culture and in other religions. What’s the impact of this? When you need to purify, this automatically implies that you are not pure when you are on your period. 

Now, let’s merge the abovementioned information with reality. Think of a young little girl, maybe yourself when you were around the age of 13, getting your first period and being bombarded directly and indirectly with all the myths and taboos about what a period is. Scientifically, menstruation is a natural part of the reproductive cycle of those who have a womb. More specifically, the actual cause of menstruation is the shredding of the lining of the uterus, which occurs if the ovum does not get fertilized (Garg, & Anand, 2015). 

Nonetheless, these are not just mere myths or misinformation to laugh at. Menstrual rituals, like other bodily fluids, convey that menstrual blood is an abomination. Those myths and misinformation have a real and negative impact on the mental and physical health of menstruators. Let me name a few: 

  • The use of unsanitary ways to aid with blood absorption (e.g., the use of ashes, newspapers, etc), leads to increased susceptibility to infection (Garg, & Anand, 2015).
  • Normalizing shame can only create stress about something which is healthy (Fredrickson, & Roberts, 1997).
  • Labeling oneself as “dirty” or “impure” can lead to global shame about reproductive events (e.g., menstruation, breastfeeding) which in turn can influence negatively any reproductive decisions that can damage their physical health (Andrist, 2008)

So considering all this information what do you do with it? The stigma associated with menstruation has its roots in the lack of information and the current social norms. Therefore, educate yourself and others on what is menstruation. Be aware of the biases that may surround the natural phenomenon of menstruation. Above all, explore how you feel and believe about periods; have self-talk. If you are a menstruator explain to yourself that periods are part of how you function healthily. If you are not a menstruator, learn how menstruation works because that is a way to understand other people and dissolve the hidden stigma around periods. 

Let’s Talk Period Cyp 🩸

As part of my identity as a psychologist, I also choose to be an advocate for the values and ideas I resonate with. Raising awareness about menstruation, in order to eliminate its stigma, falls under the fields I strongly believe I can be helpful with my experience and knowledge and simultaneously help society. For that reason, I joined the Let’s Talk Period Cyp which is the first and hopefully not the only period movement in Cyprus. The campaign is not only about breaking the stigma but also about initiating different actions to fight period poverty.

Have a look at them on the Instagram page and/or Facebook page. Be brave enough to ask questions, share your stories, and even volunteer for the cause. 


Andrist, L. C. (2008). The Implications of objectification theory for Women’s health: Menstrual Suppression and “maternal request” cesarean delivery. Health Care for Women International, 29, 551–565. https://doi​.org/10.1080​/07399330801949616.

Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T.-A. (1997). Objectification theory: Toward understanding women’s lived experiences and mental health risks. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 173–206. https://doi​.org/10.1111/j​.1471-6402.1997.tb00108.x.
Garg, S., & Anand, T. (2015). Menstruation related myths in India: strategies for combating it. Journal of family medicine and primary care4(2), 184–186.