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Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

Promoting Period Prowess: FlowAware Initiative Pushes For Teenage Menstrual Health

Working+together%2C+Lahari+Gadi+26+and+author+Aarya+Kale+26+form+the+FlowAware+team.+The+FlowAware+project+hopes+to+increase+public+knowledge+of+the+underlooked+medical+aspects+of+the+menstrual+cycle.
Aarya Kale
Working together, Lahari Gadi ’26 and author Aarya Kale ’26 form the FlowAware team. The FlowAware project hopes to increase public knowledge of the underlooked medical aspects of the menstrual cycle.

Intense bolts of pain, only subsiding to give way to a dull, continuous ache in the lower abdomen, all shadowed by the irritable and sluggish mindset to simply keep pushing through one’s day, is a common feeling familiar to almost every woman of age. For teenage girls, these symptoms only serve to enhance the already stressed and pressurized nature of their social and academic lives. The menstrual cycle has always been a controversial yet core part of a woman’s journey through life, often associated with fertility, nature, and a rite of passage for young women. However, for many teenage girls already experiencing grand multitudes of emotional, social, and bodily issues, the pains of the menstrual cycle often pushes them into a series of increased mental and physical setbacks that hinders their ability to perform their daily routine in the short term, and acutely develop a self-confident character for themselves, something that is often hampered by the numerous emotional fluctuations that occurs in a teenage girl, in the long term. 

Moreover, as they navigate a critical and formative period of their lives, teenagers in general tend to have more idealistic views that are thought to have arisen from the mass fluctuation in hormones that takes place during this time. Oftentimes these opinionated perspectives only go as far as garnering a laugh from amused parents, or if it’s one of the stronger viewpoints, pushing a young individual to speak out in society through mediums such as mass media or artful expressions. However, certain generational disparities in ideologies can cause potential risks for teenagers. For example, in the context of menstruation, when common issues such as heavy or absent period cycles occur, many teenage women feel resistant to actively seeking help from a healthcare professional due to differing viewpoints regarding the topic of menstruation. Sahana Sakthivelmoorthy ‘26 believes that approaching a doctor for menstrual health problems is made difficult due to their lack of understanding of how periods truly affect the lives of teenage women. 

“It becomes really weird because [doctors] talk about [the cycle] like it’s a beautiful part of nature and that you should be happy that your body is flourishing,” Sakthivelmoorthy said. “That’s great and all, but they never really tell you about the negatives, which is what affects us and our academic and social life the most.”

Fusing the extreme mental effects of stressful academic environments and constantly packing critical events into their already busy schedules with physical menstrual pains frequently leads to teenage women underlooking the importance of proper menstrual care and the subsequent risks that come with disregarding physical and hormonal period issues. A critical and core aspect of their lives, many teenagers prioritize academics to a society-deemed extreme, considering it the most integral contributor in being successful. Due to this, many teenagers begin to lose sight of the importance behind their physical and mental wellbeing, which often goes unnoticed as academics begin to dominate a teenager’s life. For teenage girls, this means simply bearing the natural discomforts that come with periods such as cramps, nausea, muscle pain, and fatigue instead of taking the time to perform the right steps to dissipate the pain. While, to a certain extent, it may be bearable to undergo the negative symptoms of the menstrual cycle, if proper care is not taken, the physical effects could severely harm one’s body, also placing mental strain on the very individuals that already experience enormous levels of it. 

“Periods have had severe effects on my well-being, especially when I was already having a difficult time dealing with schoolwork or other stressors. Getting a period during a particularly stressful week just makes the entire thing worse and tends to drain all of my energy,” Nishi Mukkara ‘26 said. “I usually don’t take steps to ease the pain that comes from [periods]. For me, I’d rather just deal with it instead of taking painkillers or other medication.”

However, with the rising emphasis on mental health and considering all potential contributors in emotional conflicts for teenagers specifically, the role of menstrual health on the overall physical and mental wellbeing of teenage girls has slowly gained popularity. Pairing their bold ideologies of advocating for increased menstrual awareness with the perfect medium of a club project to foster a supportive and informed community, a team from Westwood HOSA has taken on raising public understanding regarding underlooked aspects of the menstrual cycle and all that it encompasses. The team hopes to do this through measures such as utilizing social media such as Instagram to reach their younger target audience, reaching the school-wide public by publishing an article to the school newspaper and posting informational flyers in girls bathrooms, as well as hosting an in-person seminar to discuss the phases of the cycle and their many impacts on the teenage body. Along with this, the project, FlowAware, aims to provide easy tips and tricks to alleviate period struggles specifically catered towards the teenage lifestyle as a part of their community awareness event.

“With an emphasis on mental health impacts, the goal of our project is to create awareness of the different shifts caused by the coordinated hormonal changes during the cycle,” team member Lahari Gadi ‘26 said. “Often, individuals are unaware of these hormones’ influence on their mental health and daily routine throughout their entire cycle, leading to further worsening of their mental state due to not understanding that these changes are natural. Our mission is to bring attention to this overlooked problem and offer support to teens navigating their menstruation cycle.”

Often subject to many stereotypes and conventional perceptions, teenagers must frequently undergo certain assumptions about their lifestyle, character, habits and actions in multiple facets of their lives. Menstruation, in the context of teenage girls, is no exception. Commonly exposed to harsh social environments, teenage girls are one of the largest groups susceptible to period stigma, as in accusing a woman of menstruating if she is perceived to be sharp, aggressive, or moody. Such comments, received during an already emotionally and physically sensitive time, can have major harmful consequences on individuals. Other stereotypes can come in the form of negative cultural and social norms or workplace discrimination, all of which affect the emotional and physical state of women. Gadi describes a core part of her team’s motivation to pursue this project as working to ease the negative effects of these stereotypes by properly educating and informing teenage girls about the natural changes that occur during the phases of the menstrual cycle. 

“The topic of menstruation is usually concealed with conservative biases, leading to many young women growing up without fundamental knowledge of exactly how their body functions,” Gadi said. “Women need to be educated about certain aspects of periods, such as the phases present throughout their whole 28-day cycle. Focusing on these specific factors will not only increase overall awareness of menstruation but will also further dismantle the lingering stigma surrounding it.”

Elaborating on the phases she mentioned, Gadi describes the effects of the menstrual cycle to stretch far beyond the one week in which a woman undergoes her period. The three phases of the cycle, the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase, are a series of events and secretion of certain hormones that occurs during the full 28 days of a woman’s menstruation cycle, and repeats itself throughout a woman’s life from menarche to menopause. One of the key hormones that severely fluctuates during the cycle is estrogen, which indirectly affects the production and effects of endorphins, the “feel-good” chemicals in the brain. Due to this, when estrogen levels rise, many women experience varying levels of high energy and increased productivity, but when they fall, women begin to experience irritability and mood swings. While the times in which energy levels are high may seem positive, Gadi explains that in reality, these fluctuations in emotion have major impacts on the stability and self-confidence in teenage girls. 

“Oftentimes, when these young women are trying to navigate their cycles, they enter an uncharted area of understanding menstruation and the topics concerning it, usually without comprehensive knowledge of [the phases’] impacts,” Gadi said. “Managing the many different mental and physical challenges without a clear understanding of periods places additional burdens on [young women]. Since it is common for teenagers to typically experience mental health struggles already, the lack of this education furthers their struggles and subjects them to more stress.”

Diverging from other projects of their sort, Gadi describes FlowAware as a unique take on the customary menstrual health and awareness campaign, by emphasizing the personalized measures women can take to better suit their diverse needs. She also dives deeper into the massive potential impact that increased knowledge of the individual menstrual phases could have on women of all stages of life. 

“With the project’s emphasis on the individual phases present in the menstruation cycle, it highlights personalized approaches women can take to alleviate their struggles that are tailored to the different stages of a woman’s life,” Gadi said. “Instead of just focusing on the external struggles of the period cycle one has to go through, as many comparable projects do, it also dives into the mental struggles these women experience. Our goal is to provide a nuanced understanding of the lifetime impacts of menstruation, not just the short-term.”

Striving to unravel the stigma and discomfiture surrounding menstruation and related topics, Gadi and her team hope to create a lasting impact on women’s increased understanding of the cycle and the various phases of it, all the while promoting a conscious environment in which these natural bodily and emotional changes are accepted, and treated with the respect and care they deserve. 

“We wish for the ultimate impact of this community project to result in the widespread education of the individual phases of the period cycle, and the corresponding consequences that are associated with each phase,” Gadi said. “But most of all, we hope to inform these women who are subjected to menstruation-related mental health changes to know that the impact on their health is in no way a reflection of their competence, but instead, are caused by the natural process that many others similarly undergo. We hope to extend the awareness of this topic so that we can go beyond simply helping people directly experiencing the various struggles, but so that we can create a safe and supportive community in which women of all health backgrounds are welcomed and cared for.”

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About the Contributor
Aarya Kale, Reporter
Class of 2026 Hey! Besides being a passionate writer and photographer, I also happen to have a liking for all things cheese :) If I don’t happen to be eating some, I’m probably off reading a nice book or hanging out with my friends!

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