This is a winning entry of our writing contest on “Periods and Technology” by Saranya Sivakumar

I grew up in an era where people were seeking out information and entertainment from audio visual mediums and where the internet was fast booming. Yes, I am a millennial and I learnt about the menstruation process through a sanitary napkin demonstration held by a popular brand. Back then, when I would come across television ads featuring female models who poured blue ink over napkins, my mother would switch the channel to shun my curiosity.

I still can recall that day in my school when I was in the sixth grade, and only the girls were instructed to gather in the auditorium. A lot of commotion and chaos ensued in the class, as we girls were clueless and the boys in our class were curious.

When we assembled in the auditorium, some counselors from the sanitary napkin brand spoke to us about the menstrual cycle and played for us a documentary on puberty and menstrual hygiene. For the first time, that’s when the reality of life hit me – the realization that every woman has to go through a bleeding process every month. Once the session got over, my naive friends and I had lame discussions about it and when I returned home, I bombarded my mom with many questions regarding periods. It was from that enlightening day onwards that my mom started discussing periods with me.

Years later when I got my first periods, unlike many other kids, I neither panicked nor was ignorant, since I had good knowledge about periods and I could handle it with ease.

One of my aunts shared her menstrual experience with me. She told me that when she got her first periods, she thought she was suffering from cancer. Yes! You read it right! She was secretive about it for a week, because she didn’t want her parents to get worried. When I recall this story, I realize how technology goes hand in hand with educating women about menstruation. I hope that many women like me will have the privilege to grow up in an era where activist and brands are making engaged attempts to educate and normalize periods through various mediums.

Globalization is one vital result of technology and development in our country, and we now discuss and share ideas which can reach anyone across the globe in a millisecond via social media. We share and adapt different cultures, knowledge systems and ideologiesfrom one another across the world. We all are aware that the Scottish government has recently announced that sanitary napkins will be provided free of cost, now that the country has become the pioneer in bringing this new norm to the fore, and somewhere in the world this idea has been popped up, with the rest of the world soon hopefully following in the steps of the revolution.

On social media, I enjoy watching period memes and illustrations because I get a sense of relief that I am not the only woman out there who goes through it and it gives me a place to connect with relevant content, helping me to laugh over it. Initially when I showed it to my mom, she would feel awkward, but she would still appreciate the creativity and courage of our generation in explicitly talking about periods.

Movie promotions leave no stones unturned these days, but one such innovative and clutter breaking campaign which I came across was this Padman challenge, and I hope many of us will remember this challenge which went viral over social media for years to come. The challenge broke stereotypes in the mindset of many people, when their favorite male super stars themselves posted pictures with a sanitary pad. It was path breaking and they profoundly made an attempt to normalize the stigma around sanitary pads, because we are after all in a society where sanitary napkins are usually wrapped up in newspapers or plastic covers to this day.

In the late 70’s, during my mother’s adolescence, she did not have access to sanitary pads as she was residing in a remote area in Tamil Nadu. Now when I visit my mother’s place, even small-scale grocery shops have sanitary pads for sale. This wouldn’t have been possible without technological development and progress in transportation. So, technology is not just limited to the internet and communication medium but has a far more impactful reach.

As we all know, period cramps differ for every woman, based on their bodily conditions. Back then, I had a classmate in my high school, who used to suffer a lot due to period cramps, and she would take time off every month during her cycle. My friends and I would wonder why she was unable to endure the pain like any of us. Later when I completed my schooling, I came across this condition called endometriosis. I never knew that many women who suffered from this ailment would get unbearable pain. Even now, I do not know if a cure has been invented for this condition, but I believe that the development in science and technology has helped in identifying and diagnosing mild to severe conditions that surround menstruation. Back then, I wondered how women with conditions like endometriosis and PCOD would have suffered, back when the science itself had not well diagnosed these ailments.

Development is inevitable in every industry, and twenty years from now, sanitary napkins or tampons might get replaced with yet another innovative product. It is my firm belief that technology provides a wide range of forums to discuss about the stigmas and myths surrounding menstruation with fellow women. Right from period trackers to locating the nearest medical shops to get one’s hands on sanitary napkins, we can now enjoy the fruits of the developed and the fast-developing era to come.

Author: Saranya Sivakumar

Saranya Sivakumar is a working woman in her mid-twenties,
trying to figure out my life in the unforeseen future. She was born and brought up in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, which is known for its traditions and temples. To be more specific, she comes from Chennai, which is known for its buzzing traffic, scorching heat and the longest beach. Saranya works for a television company in the marketing department and sometimes tries her hands on blog writing as well.  She loves describing her thoughts into words, and is working on the same, as Saranya wants to publish at least one book in her life.  Here is the link to her Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/saranya_sivakumar12/

Edited by: Divya Rosaline