Yes, you read that right. A woman’s health is not only her business but also of everyone else in her life, including the men. You must have read or heard that bit about a happy woman making a happy home. Let us rephrase that – a healthy woman makes a happy home.
Like it or not, a woman is the nucleus, the focus around which a household revolves. She is the central force holding all the different constituents of the family together. She has many important duties to discharge in that role and for that to continue on a sustained basis, it is essential that she remains healthy. It is the duty of everyone around her to ensure that she maintains that health.
When women have their periods, their hormones go out of whack, and they need sympathy and some TLC. And when a woman gets pregnant, it becomes all the more important that she maintains her health so that she can give birth to a healthy child.
This is where the men come in, because men – many of them - want to ignore ‘women troubles’ and pretend that they do not have anything to do with it.
We have a responsibility to teach our boys that a woman’s health is important, and that they need to give precedence to it when they grow up to be adults.
Education starts young
Creating awareness about women’s health and the issues that girls and women go through has to start at a young age for boys. How do we do this at home and at schools?
One way is through sex education. Biology is already something that is covered in the school curriculum, but that might not include sex education. While talking about sex, we can also touch on the ovulation process of a woman – the mechanics of how the body prepares for a baby, and how when the egg is not fertilised, the breakdown of the tissue leads to periods. Talking about periods to boys is a bit awkward, we know, but if we treat it as a mechanical process, much like how we would explain the digestive system or the way the heart beats and our blood circulates, it can be done naturally. Take the help of educational videos on the Internet. If you have a son and daughter, then involve both of them in this discussion. The idea is to take the awkwardness out of talking about periods. Encourage your son to ask questions about it, because that is the only way he can learn about women’s physiology and their health concerns. Most importantly, answer truthfully.
When we talk to our sons, we have to tell them that a period or menstruation by itself is not a cause for concern, because it is a normal biological process that all females go through. However, they should be made to understand that it is also a time when a woman can undergo a lot of pain, physical discomfort, etc.
Do not treat premenstrual syndrome as a taboo subject, but a normal occurrence. When we tell boys about PMS, it should be in the context of what is happening within a woman’s body, what she is going through, and how she is dealing with it. It will make them appreciate it more when they are older and married.
Talking about Sanitary Pads and Tampons
Hankies are used to wipe sweat, toilet paper is used to wipe our bottoms, diapers are used by babies for pooping and peeing, sanitary pads and tampons are used by women to absorb period blood. See, how easy that is? When you explain it in this fashion, it doesn’t sound gross.
When ads for sanitary pads come on, don’t switch channels or put off the TV. Keep it on and if your son asks about it, answer honestly. Tell him it’s a hygiene product that women use when they have their periods. Explain the importance of using such products, stress on the need to use naturally occurring fibres, and how they are safer for their health.
PCOS and women’s health
When boys are in their late teens, they should be taught about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and the health issues it leads to, such as painful periods, acne outbreaks, unwanted hair growth, weight gain and infertility. This is also important because teenage girls are already going through major self-esteem issues. And dealing with facial hair and acne is hard enough without their peers calling them ugly or treating them with disrespect. Tell them that men need to take the initiative to ensure that the women in their lives get immediate medical attention in such a condition. That is possible only if they know enough about it, and appreciate the problems that can arise because of it.
It is quite possible that you will feel that what you are telling your sons is not getting through to them. But do persevere and keep the dialogue open. That is important. Just that awareness and knowledge itself will be of help later, when they grow up and see what their wives and daughters are going through.
Here are some health tips that we would like to give boys and men for the women who count in their lives. One, don’t ignore any health issues that a woman is undergoing even if she doesn’t talk about it. Two, women need adequate rest, especially when they are menstruating or are pregnant. Ensure that they get that rest. Three, women love to be cossetted and pampered. Indulge that wish if you want a happy, healthy woman.
As the ad line says, they’re worth it!