Campaign: It was perhaps the first time for some 20 students of Jigme Losel Primary School to participate in a discussion on mensuration that RENEW organised on September 11. Of the 20, only one had her menstruation.

A topic that is often taboo in public and even private spheres, the discussion was organised to start off the social media campaign called #LetsFaceitPeriod by MyBhutan and RENEW.

The campaign this month aims to start an open dialogue on menstruation to break down taboos and foster an environment where women are able to discuss their periods.

When asked what menstruation is, a class VI student said it is unwanted blood from the body. Almost all girls confessed that they are comfortable talking about menstruation with their mothers than the fathers.

“Fathers do not know about menstruation,” a class VI girl said. “Mothers are experienced so they know about it.”

However, participants agreed that it is important that girls open up the channels of discussion and should be able to talk not only to fathers but anyone about menstruation.

Likewise, parents should also talk to their young daughters and educate them about menstruation so that girls will have access to safe sanitary products and facilities.

The founder of Bhutan Association of Women Entrepreneurs, Damchae Dem said menstruation is not the issue but women being unable to speak out are the main problem.

Gynecologist Dr Ugyen Tshomo talked about the signs of puberty in girls, menstrual cramps and signs of pregnancy, among others.

Dr Ugyen Tshomo said girls menstruate between the age of nine and 15, depending on their health. However, if girls have menstruation before nine years or if they don’t have their menstruation after 15 years, they need to consult a doctor.

“After a girl’s first menstruation, she may not get her period for two to three months,” Dr Ugyen Tshomo said. “It is normal because she is not fully matured.”

She also said it is okay to have painkillers like paracetamol during menstrual cramps.

More than 40 participants including students from Jigme Losel Primary School, teachers, parents, health experts, and other community leaders discussed about menstruation, necessary medical treatments and also made action plans on how best to handle the issue.

Dechen Tshomo