Who Guided A Young Sudha Murty About Periods?

In an interview with Shaili Chopra on The Rule Breaker show, Sudha Murty discussed her father's role in preparing his daughters for menstruation and menopause, breaking stereotypes and normalising father-daughter conversations on periods.

Oshi Saxena
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sudha murthy

A photo of Sudha Murty from her childhood

How many women in your life can you recall having little to no information about menstruation or periods when they experienced this natural milestone? The number is countless. India, with its cultural diversity and immense population, still battles with the taboo of openly discussing periods, propagated from century to century. While the conversation about women dealing with stereotypes of ‘being impure’ while on periods is never-ending, it's time to pivot towards a transformative dialogue—one that empowers young girls to embrace menstruation as a natural and essential aspect of their lives. But who guides these girls through this transition? Are Indian parents equipped to have these conversations, or do they shy away from the essential dialogue, leaving their daughters unprepared and burdened with shame? Can open dialogue within households help dismantle the stigma? The answer is yes, and renowned philanthropist Sudha Murty is a leading example of it.


Sudha Murty, an inspiration to countless men and women today, in an exclusive interview with Shaili Chopra, founder of SheThePeople and Gytree, on The Rule Breaker show, shared her experiences and insights into how her father prepared his three daughters for periods and menopause, taught them to embrace menstruation, a natural phenomenon as a biological/hormone balancing act while breaking the stereotype of being 'impure and dirty', and set a precedent for normalizing fathers guiding their daughters about periods.

Murty On How Her Father Gave The Talk Around Periods and Menopause

Puberty and the onset of menstruation signify pivotal phases in a girl's life, shaping her perception of her changing body. However, conversations about menstruation and menstrual hygiene often centre around mothers, leaving fathers on the edge. However, Sudha Murty's father defied this convention by arming his daughters with comprehensive knowledge about their bodies. From the onset of puberty, he imparted wisdom about hormonal fluctuations, the glow of youthful skin, and the eventual transition into menopause. His candid discussions paved the way for  Murty and her sisters to approach menstruation with confidence and understanding, devoid of societal stigmas and misconceptions.

Reflecting on her father's guidance, Murty shared, “Of course, I knew very well. My dad was a gynaecologist, a good friend of mine, and an open person. He would always talk about menstruation and periods. He told us that there is nothing wrong with that. It is not a curse or anything impure. It has to be part of your hormone balancing, and you have to take it like any other person. From the beginning, when I had my puberty, my dad prepared for menopause as well, by saying, 'Now your hormones are high, so your skin glows, you look in the mirror many times a day; one day your hormones will be withdrawn, and menopause will come.' He gave me very good knowledge of menopause and periods, and he told me that when you come to get menopause, you should not think it's a disease; it's a withdrawal of your hormones. At that time, you should work a little more than normal so that you should get distracted, and whenever you feel down, you should remember it's not because there's something down in the situation. The hormone is going back, so you feel this. He prepared us, as he used to handle many women, and he knew without knowledge or with less knowledge, or without knowing about it, women used to suffer a lot. So he was very forward and had three daughters, so he made it a point to treat these things as normal and not go by what others talk.”


His foresight aimed to equip his daughters with the knowledge necessary to defy stereotypes associated with menstruation in India.

Why Fathers Should Not Avoid 'Period Talk'?

Given that everybody is different, periods can catch a child off guard, and both parents need to be prepared to offer guidance. While mothers may bring firsthand experience to the table, fathers must actively educate themselves on every aspect of menstruation. Approaching the topic with love, care, and understanding is essential, ensuring fathers are well-equipped to support their daughters emotionally and practically. It is not just an option but a necessity for fathers to normalize period talk with their daughters, fostering healthy relationships and dismantling the barriers of menstrual stigma that can restrict their daughter's growth and development. 

By actively engaging in conversations surrounding menstruation, fathers not only nurture stronger bonds with their daughters but also contribute to shaping a generation of informed and confident young women who evolve and are well-informed, just like Murty in her youth, who was well-prepared when she experienced her first periods and was equipped with understanding about menopause as she matured.

Murty’s father initiated conversations about puberty at a time when even mothers hesitated. His profession as a gynaecologist laid the groundwork for her empowerment.  Now in 2024, when we see a powerful and inspirational woman like Murty, one can't help but notice a twinkle in her eye when she talks about her father preparing her for these changes in her body. He made her well-informed about autonomy, making her more confident, and most importantly, he smartly safeguarded her from all the stereotypes of periods that could limit her potential personally and professionally had she indulged in them.

Having knowledge about changes in your body and understanding why these changes are happening makes you confident about yourself. Knowing that it is a natural biological process linked to fertility and the healthy functioning of the female reproductive system itself eliminates the ‘dirty and impure stereotype.’ Imagine if every father and mother had this conversation with their daughter; the number of women and girls prevented from getting an education, earning an income, and fully and equally participating in everyday life would come to zero. Murty and her father’s example of normalizing period talk between dads and daughters gives hope for a world where this aspiration can turn into reality.

Menstruation will only remain taboo until we start including it in our everyday conversations until we start talking about it in our household spaces. Thus, holding normal conversations in social and domestic settings is the key to wiping out the taboo in this normal phenomenon. Murty and her father's story should serve as an inspiration for fathers everywhere to break the silence, shatter the stereotypes, and guide their daughters through the natural phases of life, embracing menstruation as a beautiful and empowering part of a woman's journey.

The time for change is now, and it begins within the walls of our homes, one open conversation at a time.

Sudha Murty periods The Rule Breaker Show Sudha Murty Childhood