Menstrual Hygiene Day is an annual awareness day on May 28 to highlight the importance of good Menstrual Hygiene Management(MHM) at global level. Menstrual hygiene is an important issue that affects healthy adolescent girls and pre-menopausal adult women monthly. Around the world women have developed their own personal strategies to cope with menstruation, which vary from country to country and depend on economic status, the individual’s personal preferences, local traditions and cultural beliefs and education status, and access to water and sanitation resources. Studies have shown that often the methods of management can be unhygienic and inconvenient, particularly in poorer settings.
It has been seen that lot many girls possess no knowledge and information about menstruation when they reach their menarche or get their first period. A lack of adequate information about this normal biological phenomenon breeds fear and puts their health at risk and negatively affects their education, as many girls miss school during their menstruation.
In India, studies have shown that between 43% and 88% of girls wash and reuse cotton cloths rather than use disposable pads. Besides, reusable material may not be well sanitized because cleaning is often done without soap and with unclean water. Unhygienic washing practices are particularly common in rural areas and amongst women and girls in lower socio-economic groups. Elucidation is made that whether unhygienic MHM practices increase a woman’s exposure to urogenital infections, such as bacterial vaginosis (BV) and urinary tract infection (UTI).
Moreover, menstrual hygiene management is also likely to be affected by contextual factors, such as access to places where women can manage menstruation-related washing in privacy and comfort. These factors are influenced by having access to water, hygiene and sanitation facilities at the household, and their link with MHM and with urogenital infections.
So, education about menstruation and Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) is crucial to encourage girls to manage their menstruation safely, hygienically, and with confidence. Supporting adolescent girls on managing menstrual Hygiene and creating safe and hygienic environment in schools to facilitate good academic environment may perhaps be one of the ways to put an end to the apparently several issues related to menstruation.
Educating school girls on menstrual hygiene issues to enhance their self-esteem and self-confidence to familiarize with the status and problems related to menstruation is paramount. This shall be done through peer to peer health groups, child to child health club discussions, dialogues and orientation on health, hygiene, reproductive health including menstruation and related physiological knowledge.
Here are some special tips that every woman should follow to maintain their menstrual hygiene:
Changing sanitary pads frequently
If you use sanitary pads to soak the flow during your periods, remember to change it often. Ideally, changing it every four hours is good. If not every day, do this on the first two days when the flow is heavier. On others too, don’t wear the same pad for more than eight hours.
Cleaning reusable pads properly
There are sanitary napkins that can be reused for several menstrual cycles. If you use one of these, ensure that you clean them thoroughly after every use so that there are no germs and there is no scope of infection. However, follow instructions on the label to know how many times you shall reuse them and then discard.
Keeping vaginal area clean
It is important to keep your vaginal area clean especially during periods when there is blood flow from the body. Use warm water and diluted soap to wash the area. You can also use recommended vaginal washes available in the market to keep yourself clean. The vagina also has a self-cleaning mechanism, so these washes aren't really necessary for most women.
Never use two pads simultaneously. Some women who experience heavy flow, tend to use two sanitary pads at one go to control the flow and prevent staining of clothes. This, however, is a bad idea as it can cause infections in the vaginal region. Stick to one and keep changing it often if the flow is more.
Wearing comfortable, clean underwear
While changing your sanitary pad is essential, it is also important to wear something comfortable during these days. Tight thongs or underwear made of fabric that doesn’t allow your skin to breathe will also lead to infections. Stick to clean and comfortable cotton knickers that do not stick to your skin.
Running a bath
Just because you’re on your period doesn’t mean you can’t relax and indulge in some ‘me-time’. In fact, your period is the perfect time to do so. Having a bath whilst on your period is a great stress-reliever for many. Plus, warm water can help ease menstrual cramps too.
Disposing of used period products hygienically
Maintaining good intimate hygiene whilst on your period is important. Once used, wrap up your period protection product and put it in a bin. To truly dispose off your used period products safely and hygienically, only use biodegradable and organic pads, panty liners and tampons as these menstrual products can be composted and returned to the soil.