W1 Activity: Menstruation

I defined health as when your body is working properly and you are free from disease. I consider illness to be when your bodily functions start to falter since you are no longer maintaining homeostasis and systems no longer are able to perform their jobs correctly. I believe that I looked back on personal experience for criteria for these terms. My grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and I knew that she was ill and no longer healthy since a disease had taken over her body and it was not able to function correctly. Later on when I took a biological science course at Michigan State I better understood homeostasis and it’s significance to the definitions of health and illness.


I believe that menstruation should not be considered an illness since it is a normal human function that every woman has. It is mother nature’s way of notifying a woman that she is not pregnant that month. An illness is something that is abnormal, that healthy people do not have. However, menstruation is something that the vast majority of women have (barring those that have certain illnesses that prevent menstruation). It is healthy to have and is an instrumental part of child bearing since if the uterus lining is shed like it is during menstruation then a child is not able to be carried. However, I believe that cancer is an illness since it alters your body’s functions so that it is no longer working properly. For example, when my grandmother had pancreatic cancer she developed diabetes and bronchitis as well. This was due to a tumor on her pancreas as well as tumors in her lungs that prevented normal functions. Her body was out of homeostasis and was spiraling downhill fast—something that does not happen to a healthy, normal person who is free of disease.

2 thoughts on “W1 Activity: Menstruation

  1. Marisa I thought your post overall was very insightful. First of all, you did great job of explaining how menstruation is a normal human process and that all, like you said, healthy people have it. It’s a mechanism of the body and although it can be uncomfortable but this uncomfortable feeling is generally expressed by all women. It’s the discomfort that accompanies menstruation, which is heightened, and I think that’s where some people might perceive it to be an illness because the symptoms are on a spectrum based on how one treats it.
    I did some further research on menstruation focusing on third world countries and found out some interesting facts I’d like to share with you. In areas like east Africa menstruation is a huge health concern because of the inability to pay for the resources. Sanitary pads actually become far too expensive for the average girl in Kenya to purchase. And so there girls improvise and are resorted to use rags, leaves, newspaper, bits of mattress stuffing or even mud in order have some form of protection when they have their periods- all these methods raise several health concerns. While in Afghanistan, girls lack proper education on sexual reproduction. They’re told this misconception that washing your genitals while you’re menstruating can lead you to become infertile.
    Goldberg, Eleanor. “All The Inconceivable Ways Women Deal With Their Periods Worldwide.. And How To Help.” The Huffington Post. Accessed July 10, 2016. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/14/menstruation-myths_n_7495568.html.

  2. Hey Marisa!

    I completely agree with you that menstruation should not be considered an illness because it’s something that every female experiences. After doing some research however I discovered that menstruation is definitely not seen as just something normal for women and kind of “disregarded” or not brought attention to like it is in the US. I stumbled upon an article in the New York Times that discusses the rituals that women experience in Niger during menstruation and I was honestly shocked. Saumya Dave, the woman who wrote the article starts by saying that, “women are viewed as tainted during their period”. This simply means they aren’t allowed to pray, they can’t fast, they can’t prepare food or collect water and their clothes have to dry separately from the other clothes (Dave, 2011). I had a strong understanding that other cultures did things differently then the culture I was raised in but not to this extent. What stuns me the most is that if a woman is menstruating during a fast she had to stop and make it up later or that she couldn’t pray. In African cultures praying and fasting are highly valued and for a woman to be basically banned from practicing what she believes in because she is doing something EVERY woman does is terrible. It also shocks me that they can’t dry their clothes in the same place as the others because as Dave says, “it minimizes embarrassment”. Women should not have to feel embarrassed for such a natural process. These rags are supposed to be hung inside instead of outside and, “Unfortunately will not fully dry and can evolve into a breeding ground for bacteria,” (Dave, 2011). These rituals are not only hurtful and ridiculous but are also a health hazard to women.

    Saumya Dave, “A Biological Ritual, Experience Through Different Cultures,” The New York Times, June 27, 2011.

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