When asked to define health, I decided that my definition of health is the general well being of a person’s body and mind, and being free from diseases and illnesses. Illness to me is a condition that impairs the normal function of the body, potentially having a negative effect on the body. Illness could effect carrying out every day tasks because your body is not functioning like normal. My definitions for this activity were based off of my criteria in personal experiences and the media/social experiences as well.

Based off of my criteria and definition of illness, I had a difficult time deciding whether menstruation would be classified an illness or not. The first time I thought about it, I wrote down “illness” because menstruation is normally known to cause discomfort/fatigue, which is a negative thing. But when thinking about it later, I decided that menstruation is something that all women experience in their lifetime, so I do not consider it an illness. In fact, I would consider the lack of menstruation more of an illness than menstruation itself, since it is something that naturally happens in the body. Men also go through puberty, it is just expressed differently, but people do not consider that an illness in males. Menstruation is simply a part of being a woman, not an illness in the body.

Another condition from the list in the lecture that I debated on was shyness.  I do not believe that shyness is technically an illness because it does not directly harm the body or keep it from functioning normally, it really just is a trait a person can posses. A person can be shy and timid all the while being a very healthy human being in a good state of body and mind. Being shy is more of a characteristic than an illness to me.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Widad Nasser says:

    I too also believe that menstruation is not an illness and is something that occurs naturally in all women. After doing some research, I realized that different cultures perceive menstruation either as good or bad. In most cultures it is seen as the transition from girlhood to womanhood. As Britton stated, “ Ideas and beliefs regarding menstruation are divided into three different themes; pollution, rites of passage and concepts of secrecy and seclusion.” For instance, amongst the Lele people in Africa, menstruation is a form of pollution, and a women cannot cook for her spouse because they believe that they may die. On the other hand, Guatemalans believe that the women is getting a strong power. Also, Indians believe that menstruation is a way for a women to get rid of the impurities in her body.

    Although we might not believe that menstruation is an illness, in some cultures it is perceived as ones in ways of evil powers that can be brought upon the environment and people around them. Some women are even secluded from society the that period of time each month.

    Britton, Cathryn. “Learning about “the curse”: An anthropological perspective on experiences of menstruation.” Women’s Studies International Forum 19: 645-653. (accessed July 6, 2014).

  2. Shardae Herriford says:

    Menstruation can be viewed as illness or healthy. I choose to view this from opposing sides. Menstruation can be “cleansing” for the female body during this 24-28 day time period bacteria is being release from the reproductive system. However, each female is different many have light or heavier cycles for longer or shorter time. It does not mean she may be ill; it has to do with the perception of what the woman feels at that time. In contrast, some women suffer from extreme cramps, or absence of their period due to various health issues. For example, some women have cramps that cause them to become sick such as vomiting, fatigue and pain. Doctors usually prescribed birth control because the hormones alter the body system so that their period is not as intense.
    In 2011, a student, Saumya Dave, and teacher, Noreen Connolly were the “ Win a Trip Winners”. They traveled through North and West Africa. During her experience she wrote an article on the differences on how menstruation is viewed culturally. She discovered that menstruation is negatively viewed in some of the rural villages. For example, a 55-year-old woman named Faith Yoye, said that women are viewed as tainted during their periods. That they are not allowed to pray, they have to fast. Women can’t do chores or prepare food because they were considered unclean. Whereas, American women do not have to worry about this because menstruation is considered a biological factor and not viewed religiously. Restrictions are slim to none, they can still cook, go to church and eat as much as they would like too.

    Dave, Sumya. ” A Biological Ritual, Experience Through Different Cultures.” The New York Times, accessed July 6, 2014

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