Starting a Conversation about Menstruation

By Harriet Nakayiza

Joan is a 17-year-old student at United College in Nabitende-Banadda. She was orphaned at a young age, and she and her siblings are currently under the care of their grandmother. 

Many girls remember getting their first period and how they shared this news with a parent, guardian, or loved one. When Joan got her first period at the age of 15, however, she didn’t feel comfortable telling her grandmother—her grandmother is a farmer and has a full plate providing for her grandchildren. She has little time to speak to them about the changes that puberty and adolescence bring. 

Although she received some information about menstruation at her primary school, Joan and her friends were left with many unanswered questions. This changed when Joan began attending UVP’s adolescent reproductive health (ARH) sessions earlier this year.

During the sessions, UVP staff taught Joan and her classmates that menstruation is a normal and healthy part of life. The students also learned good menstrual hygiene practices—for example, thoroughly washing and sun drying reusable sanitary pads, as well as changing pads frequently. 

Joan and her classmates attended UVP’s accompanying reusable sanitary pad workshop and the girls found them very helpful. Equipped with the knowledge and practice skills about how to sew reusable pads, Joan now has access to menstrual products and no longer feels like she has to miss school when her period arrives. 

Joan said she feels empowered to freely talk about menstruation and help other young people acquire the knowledge she attained. 

“This knowledge has put us in [the] position to make informed decisions about our sexual and reproductive life. My fellow students and I love the program a lot!”

Joan and her classmates plan to make reusable sanitary pads for the school to keep on hand.