Guys, it’s the 21st century but the lack of awareness about menstrual hygiene would have you believe we’re still stuck in the Middle Ages. That we’re still asking questions like ‘What is the importance of menstrual hygiene education?’ is ridiculous! It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that Menstrual Hygiene Day, an annual awareness day on May 28 was only observed for the first time in 2014. It was in 2014, after centuries of human existence that global leaders realized that health education on menstrual hygiene is important.
Lack of menstrual health awareness is a social issue as much as it is a health catastrophe. To this day menstruation is still considered a taboo, a topic that we can only talk about in hush-hush tones. Even today, the cultural and social influences on people create a major hurdle in ensuring that the adolescent girls are given proper menstrual health education.
Due to the conversation around menstruation being suppressed, beliefs about people on their periods being unclean are prevalent. Insufficient menstrual hygiene practices are the cause of stress related to menstruation and reproductive tract infections. It also often leads to women and girls being confined to their homes, excluded from public spaces, or considered to be bad luck or harmful to others for about a week every. single. month.
Health Education on Menstrual Hygiene
According to a UNICEF report published in 2015, “Every day, more than 300 million people menstruate. Every month, 1.8 billion people across the world menstruate.” It takes a while to even wrap one’s head around that figure. Millions of these girls, women, transgender men and non-binary persons are stuck with the issue of being unable to deal with their menstrual cycle in a dignified, healthy and hygienic way.
Poor menstrual hygiene can cause serious health risks, such as reproductive tract infections and urinary tract infections which results in infertility and birth complications later in life. Did you know that just neglecting to wash your hands after changing and disposing menstrual products can spread life threatening infections, such as hepatitis B and thrush?
How to Raise Menstrual hygiene health awareness?
There is no way to undo all the years of stigmatizing periods in a single go, but here’s how we can at least take a step in the right direction:
Sanitary Pads should be distributed free of cost in rural areas to encourage their use instead of cloths during periods.
Millions of children have no sanitation facilities in their schools. Clean water, hygienic spaces to change pads, handwashing soap, proper places to dispose of pads should be on top of our priority lists currently.
Many countries lack affordable menstrual products or there are gaps in their supply system. Did you know that nearly 355 million menstruators in India are unable to afford period products? The governments need to step in and help bridge the gaps to help women have better periods.
Importance of Menstrual Hygiene in Schools
Health education about menstrual hygiene in schools and colleges can help students learn more about urinary or reproductive tract infections and better their well-being. Girls being bullied, skipping school during periods and dropping out of school altogether are things that happen quite often.
Schools can accommodate female-friendly facilities and teach about menstruation by making it a part of their curriculum. This shouldn’t be done just for girls alone to help reduce stigma and contribute to both a better education system and health outcomes. Having menstrual products readily available in schools not only boosts young girls’ confidence but also reduces their drop-out rates in a very big way. Completion of girls’ formal education increases their earnings and formal employment rate leading to a boost in the country’s overall growth and development.