- Anaka Phatak
- BBC Marathi
“Yes, we don’t have to take the pill! We even took it that day because it was Satyanarayan Puja,” says Kalyani, a 27-year-old housewife.
Kalyani has two children. His mother-in-law was very pious. As there is no other married woman in the house, Kalyani has to do all the work. When her period comes it will be difficult.
At such times, the family gets annoyed when she gets her period. Then Kalyani will have to hear a lot of hateful words.
But these problems were solved after the invention of pills that delay menstruation a few years ago.
“My family is very strict. Even the women of the houses where I work do not menstruate during Gauri-Ganpati Puja,” they ask.
They are right to ask. How can you lie about what you do for God? Sometimes even the money spent on it will be wasted. What is going to happen to taking pills to avoid that,” asks Kalyani.
The festive season starts from August. There is a need to buy flowers, pooja items, incense sticks, sweets and menstrual delay pills.
“During Ganapati-Mahalakshmi Puja, the demand for these pills increases. Especially during this period at least 10-15 cartons of menstrual pills are sold per day,” says Raju Jore.
Raju Jore runs a dispensary at Dilgaon Raja in Buldani. From the information given by him, it can be known that the spread of these pills has increased not only in the cities but also in the villages.
Because there is a mentality that there should be no menstruation at home during the festival. Menstruation is still not openly discussed in countries like India.
Women have many restrictions during menstruation. In many states women are forced to stay away from home during menstruation and sleep in cold air in cow sheds etc. In such a situation, one should not participate in religious events.
But all the responsibility of religious functions and festivals falls on the women of the house. If they are menstruating at that time, who will handle the workload? No science helps woman to do it freely.
Women take these pills frequently, sometimes continuously, to avoid menstrual ‘disruption’ during festivals and rituals.
“When women come to us to buy these pills, they don’t bring any doctor’s prescription. They usually don’t ask the doctor. They take the pill if they have some work to do at home. Usually three pills are enough. But now, they take six to seven pills a day,” says Raju.
Are there any side effects of period delay pills?
“These pills are not prescribed by gynecologists,” says Gauri Bimralkar, gynecologist at Sahyadri Hospital, Nashik.
He further said, “Estrogen and progesterone are two hormones in the body of women, which are the basis of the menstrual cycle. By taking these hormones late in the period, the period is delayed. In a way, these pills affect the cycle of these hormones.”
Additionally, “it can have many negative effects on the naturally occurring menstrual cycle.
If these hormones are taken continuously, we see effects like cerebral palsy, stroke, seizures etc. Women take these pills for 10-15 days and that too to prolong menstruation. The consequences are dire,” he said.
Who should not take these pills?
According to Dr. Gowri, women do not consult any doctor before taking these pills. These pills are easily available in pharmacies, he says.
Medical history of the patient is important before prescribing the tablets. If you suffer from dizziness, migraines, have ever had a stroke before, have high or low blood pressure, and are overweight, these pills can be more difficult for women.
Is this a problem for female athletes?
Many female athletes take birth control pills during competition. When Dr Gowri was asked if it would bother them, Dr Gowri said, “Athletes are a different story. They have a healthy diet, strong body and exercise, so they are less likely to have side effects from these pills.
Athletes don’t take menstrual delay pills very often. However, due to religious reasons, women during menstruation are prevented from participating in religious activities. That is why many family women are taking it more and more continuously.
“God doesn’t say don’t worship me or engage in religious activities during menstruation. So don’t play with your health with false beliefs,” says Dr Gowri.
Tripti Desai of the Bhumatha sect, who came to limelight through the temple entry movement, is of the same opinion.
“Menstruation is not impure. It is given by nature. It should be accepted with joy. Women do not go to temple during menstruation. Taking pills to delay menstruation during festivals is absolutely wrong.
I have attended several aartis of Lord Ganesha during my period. Even if I am menstruating, I will go. I can’t say I can’t come because I’m on my period. Such acts of untouchability must stop,” says Tripti Desai.
God is not angry
DK Soman, editor of Almanac, asserts that there is no theology that prohibits women from doing religious work during menstruation.
“Earlier it was customary for women to stay away to feel comfortable and maintain cleanliness. But now that is not necessary. Let’s say there is only one woman in the house. Shouldn’t she cook when her period comes? She should cook the offerings for the gods,” she says.
He also said, “When giving prasad, we put tulsi leaves and sanctify it to God. Therefore, there is no problem in giving prasad in the temple. Similarly, there is no problem in worshiping God.”
“If women are taking pills to prolong their periods, it is absolutely wrong. God is not angry. Remember He is forgiving. Religious people are scaring people, especially women. God will stop them. Don’t harm your health,” he added.
“Taking pills, but I don’t care”
Megha, who works in a senior position in a private company, says that she has taken these pills while doing such household chores but has not experienced any side effects.
“I don’t believe in taboos during worship. But my mother-in-law does. I take pills for her satisfaction. I took them on my mother-in-law’s advice when I went to see our deity. I don’t have any problems,” she said.
While experts differ on whether these pills cause side effects, there is also the question of whether women are willing to risk their health for chronic, unhealthy habits.
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