Around 52% of females across the globe are of reproductive age and menstruate every month for between 2 to 7 days. Menstruation is a natural part of a female's reproductive cycle but still remains a taboo that is rarely talked about. As a consequence, menstrual hygiene is a neglected subject. World Menstrual Hygiene Day is an annual awareness day celebrated every year on May 28 to educate the masses about the importance of good menstrual hygiene management.
Even though a large chunk of the female population is aware of menstrual hygiene and its importance, menstruation and menstrual practices still face several social, cultural, and religious restrictions. Most of the women in the world are ignorant of the consequences of neglecting menstrual hygiene management and awareness about the same is limited only to World Menstrual Hygiene Day.
In this article, we will highlight the rationales of maintaining good menstrual hygiene.
Prevention from infections
Poor periods hygiene practices make women more susceptible to incur various infections. It has been known that the risk of infection (including sexually transmitted infections) is comparatively higher during menstruation. This is because the opening of the cervix to let the blood pass creates a pathway for bacteria to travel back into the pelvic cavity and uterus.
Also, the pH of the vagina during periods is less acidic than usual. Some of the practices that may increase the risk of incurring infections are:
- Using dirty sanitary pads/ materials - Harmful bacteria may travel up the vagina and cause infection in the uterine cavity.
- Wearing pads for more than 4-5 hours - Wet pads may cause skin irritation and infection, therefore, they must be changed once every 4-5 hours. Also, pads must be changed early if the flow is too heavy.
- Using high absorbent tampons during a time of light bleeding - May lead to Toxic Shock Syndrome
- Wiping back to front after defecation - Makes the introduction of bacteria from the bowel into the vagina, leading to infections.
- Unprotected sex - increases the risk of sexually transmitted infections such as Hepatitis B and HIV.
- Not washing hands after changing pads - Facilitates the spread of infections such as Hepatitis B.
Cleanliness of the surroundings
Periods hygiene is not only subjected to using clean products and practising periods hygiene. It also means the management of waste produced during it. On average, a woman uses 350 packs of plastic sanitary pads in her lifetime. Given it has 10 pads each, it accounts for a total of 3500 pads. If these pads are not disposed of properly, the chances of infections and diseases are likely to increase manifold.
Sexually transmitted diseases, bacterial infections, vaginal infections are some of the issues that may escalate due to the improper disposal of this waste. It is, therefore, that menstrual hygiene must be a known matter to every female around the globe and should be practised regularly. To dispose of a sanitary pad, one must simply cover it with a paper bag or the wrapper of the next pad you will use, and throw it with other waste. A sanitary napkin must not be burned as the proper way to do that is in an incinerator at 800 degrees or above.
Confront myths and superstitions
Several cultures follow myths and beliefs related to menstruation. Almost every time, there are social norms and practices about managing mensuration and interacting with males while they are on periods. Some of these practices are helpful, but most of them have harmful implications. These social norms and practices make the daily life of these women and girls difficult.
For instance, in some cultures, females are not allowed to bathe during their periods, wash their hair, or touch certain food items. All these practices make women believe that periods are a bad omen, and they must be punished and secluded for bleeding. However, when women are aware of this natural phenomenon, they can understand its importance and do not feel ashamed of it. Menstrual hygiene allows females to take care of themselves when their body is very much susceptible to catching diseases and infections.
Now that you are aware of the importance of menstrual hygiene management, here are a few tips that every female can practice ensuring her period hygiene –
- It is advisable to wash the genitals with soap and water every morning and evening during periods.
- All the material used to soak the blood must be clean and unused.
- After defecation, the area must be wiped from front to back and not otherwise.
- Do not wash out the vagina with water.
- To ease the stomach pain and cramps a bottle of hot water can be put over the stomach
- A little exercise can go a long way in keeping the body active.
- Painkillers can be taken every 4 to 6 hours, after consulting a doctor
Summing it up
Periods are not a taboo subject, and conversations around it should be made more customary. Menstruation is a natural process that allows a female to give birth to a new life. Without a girl undergoing this change, there would be no human life on the earth. However, it is essential that while a female is on her periods, she practices all the menstrual hygiene practices for her well-being and not just limit herself to talk about it on World Menstrual Hygiene day alone.