Lifestyle influencer, Simran Balar Jain helps us break the fourth wall and talk about menstrual care and masturbation among teenagers.
There's a lot that people need to be concerned about and having to talk about menstruation and masturbation openly should not be one of them. Even in the 21st century, two words that cause utter distress among men and women alike are menstruation and masturbation. People prefer not to speak about either of them. We can agree by now that the only silent transaction that can beat a drug deal is that of a chemist carefully wrapping sanitary pads in a newspaper and sliding them to the buyer. Not to forget people perfecting the morse code just to buy a condom of their favorite flavour. Despite all the efforts by experts and social media influencers to discuss the menstrual cycle and sex openly, people's urge to maintain secrecy around it continues.
Making sex education a part of our curriculum in schools and educating teens will always be a hot topic but the taboo against the same continues. When we're growing up, it's natural to be curious and have doubts about masturbation and ways to lead a healthy sexual life. With menstruation also being another important aspect during this phase, it's necessary for adults to start having conversations about these with them. Lifestyle influencer, Simran Balar Jain was open to sharing her ideas on some of the basic concerns around menstrual care and masturbation among teenagers and how one can deal with it!
A senior partner at an influencer marketing company - Pulpkey by profession, Simran Balar Jain uses her Instagram platform to normalize conversations around topics that are considered to be taboo. Her zeal to learn new things has always pushed her beyond her comfort zone as well as accentuated her capability to create content across verticals like women's hygiene, sexual health, travel, F&B, fashion, and so much more.
Here's what Simran had to say!
From their discreet advertising to the hushed way they’re handed out, menstruation has always been subject to stigma. Just like Voldemort’s name isn’t spoken directly in Harry Potter, as women born and raised in India, we aren’t taught to talk about periods, even referring to it discreetly as ‘that time of the month’. It's usually open-mic performers who speak on the topic! These hushed conversations around periods, intimacy, masturbation and especially hormonal changes in girls have been treated as taboo in society and as topics to be embarrassed about. Thus, leading to a lack of awareness of menstrual hygiene which is a big threat to females especially teens who have just started their periods.
Menstruation is a cyclical phenomenon in a female body and is as normal as any other bodily function. While on their menstrual cycle, and a few days prior to it, females experience cramps, bloating, mood swings, fatigue, etc. Bleeding differs from light, moderate or heavy, varying from girl to girl. It may also vary from period to period for the same person. During periods, one should consume a healthy diet, plenty of fluids, and also take adequate rest. A heating pad and hot shower is a great way to deal with cramps as the uterus tightens to shed its lining. The sanitation method is very significant, and one can choose from sanitary pads, tampons to menstrual cups.
Persistent societal shame around menstruation usually discourages teenagers from asking questions about it, thus leading them to believe myths that have been going on for generations. But the crimson tides are starting to turn as we debunk misconceptions around periods which teenagers should not pay heed to.
Myths: One of the most common myths that have been manifested across the world in various different ways is that period blood is dirty, impure, or gross. This can be seen as a passing comment ‘ew’ if you mention you are on a menstrual cycle or a more serious cultural situation. It's neither dirty nor impure, rather it's a natural function of the female body.
Forget everything your grandmother told you regarding do’s and don’ts of periods such as avoiding sour food, pickles, and washing hair during the first 3 days. Menstruation has nothing to do with bathing, using makeup products and personal grooming. In fact, having a hot shower eases cramps and one must maintain extra hygiene by regularly cleaning the intimate area. During menstruation, one must do whatever they want, sour or not as there is no scientific theory behind avoiding sour foods.
Another misinformation that needs to be busted is that period sex is unhygienic. Having sex during periods is completely based on personal preference, any belief around it being unhealthy is completely baseless. In fact, masturbating during periods can relieve menstrual cramps as endorphins released trigger positive feelings and boost one’s mood. Masturbating or using sex toys won’t affect your menstrual cycle in the future or cause any delay in it.
Taboos around women’s health can be stubborn, especially when it comes to periods. Throw masturbation into the mix, and our society becomes even more button-lipped. Just say the word ‘masturbation’ and the whole world comes to shush us in unison. And as the topic of female sexuality comes up, it isn’t even discussed in hushed tones, rather brushed under the carpet. The lack of sex education at the school level is a valid concern. Most Indian parents refuse to have the ‘birds and bees' talk with their adolescent kids, and even if they do, it’s probably too late as many young minds have been plagued by misleading content on the internet.
Many absurd, fear-induced ideas have been incorporated in teenagers’ minds to keep them off masturbation but none of them is true. Masturbation is like creating a relationship between you and your body, and it’s absolutely normal to be curious about it. It's neither dirty nor unethical, rather it’s healthy urges, emotions and it's your right to explore them! Whether one chooses to masturbate or not is completely a personal matter but it has many, many benefits. The most obvious is self-pleasure. Our brain and body are wired in a way that touching ourselves makes us feel good, and having an orgasm is magical and makes us feel fulfilled.
While masturbating, our body also releases other mood-enhancing hormones like oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins which relaxes our muscles and eases stress, or insomnia. It's a great way to explore our bodies and release built-up sexual tension. Even after all this, if masturbation is really so ‘unrighteous’ that a Christian Author had to define it as ‘the path to Satan’, then I would suggest you waltz, your way to hell if that’s where your pleasure leads you!
Do follow Simran Jain for more amazing content that might make you uncomfortable but will leave you with great insights.