What is menstrual hygiene?
Menstrual hygiene is a hygienic practice during the time of menstruation that can prevent women from infection in the reproductive and urinary tract.
Elders often make us unaware of these things like the healthy practices of menstrual hygiene.
In India, menstruation is surrounded by myths and misconceptions with a long list of “do’s” and “don’ts” for women. Menstruation and menstrual practices are still encircled by taboos and socio-cultural restriction. All are aware of them obviously, maybe some other time we will discuss them also. Lack of scientific facts, knowledge and menstrual hygiene practices in adolescent girls sometimes, led to many health-related problems and increases the vulnerability of RTI’s (Reproductive Tract Infection).
Various health risks associated with poor menstrual management are explained as follow:
Importance of Menstrual Hygiene
Taking care of your menstrual hygiene during periods/menstruation is as much as important as taking care of your mental health. People often generally ignore mental health problems and afraid to visit a psychologist. I have read somewhere that “Your vagina needs more hygiene than your hands”.
A few reasons why you should maintain good hygiene during menstruation:
- Reduced risk of Urinary Tract Infection – Using damp menstrual clothes, or sanitary napkins for more than 5 to 6 hours can act as an excellent environment for the growth of several harmful bacteria’s and yeast. These bacteria can invade your urinary tract including the urethra and urinary bladder which cause painful urination, lower abdominal pain, back pain and fever. These complications can simply be avoided by using clean, hygienic and by a frequent changing of sanitary napkins along with cleaning external genitalia with clean water and mild soap. This only can prevent 97% of such infections.
- Reduced incidents of rashes in genitals – Itching, allergy and prolonged wetness can infect your external genitalia and can cause rashes during your menstruation. If sanitary napkins are not changed frequently, vaginal skin may get infected. Usage of Biodegradable sanitary napkins should be preferred over commercially available sanitary pads. As latter one is composed of plastics and SAP which is derived from crude oil, which has the greater potential to cause damage to the vaginal skin and hence they have to be changed frequently as often as possible to prevent allergies and rashes.
- Ensuring Good Reproductive Health – Usage of Unhygienic absorbents or improper hygienic practices during periods can result in Reproductive Tract Infection (RTI). The majority of women who used unhygienic methods (such as using the same menstrual clothes after rewashing them, wearing the damp, dirty menstrual clothes all along the day) to collect the menstrual blood in India have greater chances to suffer from RTI. Awareness and access to sanitary pads can prevent these complications.
- Minimizing Risk of Cervical Cancer – cervical cancer is caused by the virus, which is transmitted sexually, and unhygienic handling of menstrual waste too can spread the infection easily. Sharing of reusable absorbent pads, not washing hands after changing sanitary pads and lack of hygienic sanitation are some causes that can trigger the risk of developing cervical cancer; although other reasons are responsible.
The table below explains the various types of menstrual absorbents used with their advantages and disadvantages
How do you maintain Hygiene during periods? (The Brief)
- Change your pads every 4-5 hours. If you use sanitary napkins to soak the flow during your menstruation, then remember to change it often.
- Clean reusable pads properly. If you are using reusable pads, then clean them with warm water and dried them under the sun. Sun will grab all the bacteria’s present there.
- Keep your vaginal area clean. Using warm water and mild soap or vaginal liquid.
- Never use two pads simultaneously. I have heard from my friends that they used two pads simultaneously one above the other to prevent heavy bleeding. But, that is not the correct and hygienic way. This will easily invite the bacteria’s and fungi to cause rashes and allergy onto our vaginal skin.
- Wear comfortable and clean underwear.
So, menstrual hygiene is important you have all seen that why it should be so preferred which our elders/parents/mother sometimes don’t aware us with these things. Also, with respecting their so-called customs or misconceptions; listen to them and don’t argue with them, things will adjust/change with time always remember that. Do follow the healthy, hygienic practices of menstrual health management and keep your vagina and health free from illnesses.
Last but most important, spread the awareness as much possible as you can.
DID YOU KNOW : MAY 28 is observed as the "Menstruation Hygiene Day" globally.
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