Code Red! Laal Salaam! Bloody Mary! Khoon bhari taang! Menstruation? Just call it Periods. Period. While billions of women in India experience periods every month, there’s still a lot of mystery around them. Like an episode of Shhh… Koi Hai, your periods are the chudail that will appear if you say the word three times. Period, period, period! The conversations around periods are neither normalized, nor public. So, Vitamin Stree conducted a survey called ‘Red Report’ to find out how Indian women experience menstruation Who answered? 5986 women, who were mostly between the age of 18 and 24, English-speaking, had access to the internet, were currently studying or had just started working and lived in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Pune. It’s important to note that not all those who menstruate identify as women, and not all those who identify as women, menstruate. However, our survey didn’t collect enough data, from non-binary individuals or trans men, to represent them with credibility here, so the insights refect the point of view of those who identify as women, with regards to both sex, and gender. The insights we got revealed a lot about urban conversations on menstruation. There’s a long way to go. By sharing our findings with you, we’re hoping to expand this conversation, so that every time lagaa chunari mein daag, you don’t have to ask “Chupaaoon kaise?” So when are women first introduced to the concept of periods? We found that the younger set of our respondents learnt about them even before they turned 12, as opposed to the older lot, who learnt by, or after, they hit their teenage years. So the next time you say yeh aaj kal ki ladkiyaan – remember to follow that up with – kaafi informed ho gayi hai! But, how are we getting this information? Like most things in life, you might think the answer is – Google. But only 4% women said that they got their menstrual knowledge from the internet. 54% actually learnt about menstruation at home. from the one and only – Ma! And only 26% of respondents learnt about periods in class, so turns out schools are mostly skipping the subject. This vacuum of knowledge is being filled by a pretty unreliable source. Friends. As 30% of our respondents revealed. Kids love making shit up, and obviously, the stuff they come up with is far from accurate. With 80% of our respondents learning about periods between 10-13, and 54% actually getting their first period between 12-13, it’s crucial that open, honest conversations around menstruation, begin in homes, and educational institutions, to avoid misconceptions and encourage a positive attitude towards “that time of the month” Speaking of a positive attitude, only one-third of our respondents said that they informed their families when they got their first period. Of those that did, more than half of their families didn’t really react, going “weird flex but ok”. There was also a small 9% of the respondents whose families said “Where’s the party tonight?” when they heard the news, and had a big rager because “ladki badi ho gayi.” But while people want to party, no one actually wants to talk about periods. This sucks because in a lot of developing countries, periods come with a high risk of girls dropping out of schools, due to lack of basic facilities – like separate toilets. A study of almost 15,000 Indian government schools found that only a little over half had a separate and usable girl’s toilet. The rest? They’re waiting for Akshay Kumar to magically appear. Periods aren’t just a monthly inconvenience, they’re something that happens to almost all women, and need to be treated as such. Through our survey, we’re learning a lot about what it’s like for an Indian woman to be on her period. This is just the first of a 5-part series, where we’ll talk about period flow, products to use, hygiene, complications & irregularities, and cultural perceptions. So, like, share and subscribe to Vitamin Stree! Chapter 2 is coming up as soon as you click that next button!