Menstruation, to begin with, refers to the periodic shading of the uterine wall that is marked by vaginal discharge. The beginning of menstruation periods in girls initiates them into adulthood. Historical perspectives and attitudes about menstruation revolve around certain aspects of this physiological phenomenon. These aspects concern behavior changes, physical discomforts, and a range of other negative effects that have been attached to menstruation. Various cultures have perspectives and even stereotypes or social expectations on what the normal menstruation cycle entails. Many women have a negative attitude towards menstruation because of the associated changes as the cycle begins and ends.
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In the entire history of mankind, menstrual bleeding has been viewed as a supernatural phenomenon by women across the world in different cultures. Basing on the assumption that menstrual flow is associated with some life principles then there has been a belief that women undergoing menstruation may have serious consequences which can be beneficial or even evil. Most of the special powers attached to this phenomenon however were not Godly.
In some cultures like those of western countries, people associated women who were going through menstruation to be periodically dangerous. This followed then that certain restrictions had to be imposed on them. They were therefore restricted from interacting with their husbands, children, other close relatives, or the community until the period was over.
In the 19th century, various physicians came up with the opinion that menstruation was a pre-biblical occurrence and had no purpose whatsoever as it was just like any other pathological experience.
In the 19th century and at the onset of the 20th-century historical believes were still evident that menstruating women were capable of malign influence.
Harmful effects of women going through menstruation as postulated include causing bacon to putrefy. The belief that menstrual blood has potential danger continued to have prevalence until late 1944. In various articles data has been cited that is of confirmation the existence of toxicity in menstrual blood. This has been said to have the effect of contamination on the penis if sexual intercourse event takes place during the menstruation period. Since 1945 there have been no further confirmations on the presence of such toxic materials in menstrual blood.
Meanwhile, the use of contraceptives has been noted to influence menstruation. Continuous use of oral contraceptives has been believed to result in irregular flows and prolonged periods in women. Cases have been reported of amenorrhea especially with the use of injectable steroids like those containing the estrogen-progesterone hormone.
Over time cultural variables have continued to exert influence on menstrual patterns in women. The way women feel about menstruation is determined by their culture and practices. Several cultures celebrate the transition of girls into womanhood.
In orthodox cultures bleeding and the associated materials are considered to be unclean. Initiation into adulthood is celebrated in Africa, Asia, and America, and European countries. Countries like Kenya still practice the culture of female.
Countries such as Mexico and other American countries have deeply entrenched cultures that are used for the passage of young girls into womanhood. These initiation cultures also influence the way women perceive the occurrence of menstruation. All in all the cycle of menstruation as an inevitable physiological process has always received negative attitudes from women all over the world.
Bruce M. King, Human Sexuality Today 5th Edition, 2005 Pearson/Prentice Hall ISBN: 0-13-189164-2.