Aditi Chauhan, Indian women's football team goalkeeper, encouraged conversations around menstruation and opined that fixtures don't look at the players' menstrual cycles and hence, they have to adapt.
Chauhan shared on Menstrual Hygiene Day that her parents always encouraged her to keep playing even during her periods as they recognised it was part and parcel of life.
"When I started off, my parents always encouraged me to keep playing even if I was on my period. They had the awareness that it was part and parcel of life, and one would not have to stop regular activities if one is healthy," she said to Sportstar.
Chauhan said earlier players used to take off for their periods but with coaches, physios and technical staff taking care of the health around menstruation, it has changed.
"I have seen a lot of players take time off on the first two days of their periods. That has changed now. From the coaches, physios, and technical staff, everyone has banded together to explain to players that rest isn't needed unless symptoms are severe and we've tried to optimise our performance even if we're on our period.".
"Having said that, this is an individual choice to make because our bodies, metabolism, symptoms, and thresholds are different. I have played through matches and I've played even on my first two days. We can't afford to keep that as an excuse because fixtures can't accommodate all our menstrual cycles," Chauhan added.
Chauhan further said that their duration and flow of the cycle is noted to understand injury risks and health better and fitness or diet changed are advised, in case "anything unusual comes up."
Chauhan shared that she prefers pads as menstrual cups and tampons don't agree with her. She further mentioned that there needs to be more conversation around the topic and people need to shed the taboo around it.
"Tampons and cups don't really work for me, especially because of the amount of contact. I've used pads since my first period, so I am just sticking to that. Irrespective of the product, we are spoken to about how often to change, basic hygiene instructions. My parents have also handled that right from when I was a kid," she added.
"We need more awareness in our country, especially in terms of educating parents. At She Kicks, we discuss the menstrual cycle and how it affects girls and their development in the puberty stage. We have sports scientists working within our framework who guide players and their parents through these details."
"Schools also need to chip in. During my time in school, we never had conversations about this. Don't shy away from talking about it. It's a normal bodily process that does not need to spoken about in secret. Get the right people to speak to children," she said.