Menstruation — an unspeakable topic in most parts of the world. Women in rural areas feel ashamed to talk about their periods which becomes a great barrier in the path of menstrual hygiene. They still do not know the importance of menstrual hygiene and how ignoring this, will lead to infections and genital diseases. For women to have access to hygiene, not only women should be educated but men also should become aware of the menstruation process and break the “taboo” by supporting them during their periods.
Myself an Indian woman felt terrified during my first period as I did not have any knowledge on what is menstruation or why it is happening. Most of our parents do not wish to talk about this topic, which leaves the little girls clueless on their first menstrual cycle. They are neither aware of the proper cleaning methods nor aware of how to take good care of them during periods. Educating them on how to use sanitary napkins and how to clean their vaginal areas will allow the girls to be mentally prepared for their often called “scary first period”!
Around 70% of the vaginal diseases in Indian women are caused by poor menstrual hygiene practices. In many rural areas’ women cannot buy sanitary napkins and are forced to use old rags, dried cow dung cakes, mud and ash to contain the bleeding. They can wash and dry their menstrual clothes only at night and not under the sun, which can cause germs to grow and cause urinary tract infections.
Using unhealthy menstrual products, and not practicing proper menstrual hygiene methods can be the risk factors to cause many of the following diseases:
Due to improper hygiene practices arise vulva itching, irritation, redness of the skin, appearance of vesicles on your genital area.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI):
Washing the genital areas with only water and washing from back to front can cause bacteria to invade the urinary tract and cause serious harmful infections.
Use of unclean sanitary napkins can be the reason for the growth of Candida albicans, a fungal microbe, resulting in vaginal yeast infection also called Candidiasis.
Increase in chance of cervical cancer, which occurs due to the long-lasting infection of human papillomavirus (HPV).
Lack of menstrual hygiene also contribute to infertility in some women.
In addition to above-mentioned diseases, women are also prone to pneumonia, gastroenteritis, trachoma, and other skin infections. In order avoid these repercussions please follow some of the best hygienic practices given below:
Choosing a good sanitary pad:
Always opt for the sanitary pads which are natural and thin. Women with a sensitive skin can avoid pads with plastic lining; as they can cause rashes and itchiness.
Dry the clothes under the sun:
Drying the undergarments under the sun can reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal infections.
Keeping your body clean and not skipping the bath is one of the best practices for maintaining menstrual hygiene.
Proper wash of vaginal area:
Do not use artificial synthetics to wash the genital area. Harsh soaps can kill the good bacteria leading to infections. Always clean with warm water after each use of the toilet. Always wipe your vaginal area front to back, with a soft tissue, especially during periods to keep it dry and clean.
Talk about it:
Periods are not embarrassing. Break the silence and talk about it. Spread the awareness and teach healthy menstrual practices to women who are not aware of that. Do not hesitate to consult a doctor in case of any concern or infection.
We all know that May 28 is considered as the “Menstrual Hygiene day.” But talking about menstruation only on that day, is definitely not going to help the women who are still denied of the basic sanitary items.
In most of the middle-income countries, menstruating women are isolated in a separate place like huts or cow sheds, prohibited to touch other’s food and not allowed to step out of their place. While menstruation itself is a stress full process, practices like these make little girls and women to suffer a lot. Instead of support and care from their family members, women receive shame and embarrassment. Lack of proper food, sanitary items and isolation in places like cow shed, leaves women with no choice but to follow poor hygiene measures.
Also, all the responsibilities of a house-hold falls on the head of a woman, due to which she often neglects her hygiene. Poor menstrual hygiene will lead to the spreading of germs causing so many infections on her as well as her family. A woman has to take care of herself first, to keep her family healthy. An extra effort in maintaining menstrual hygiene can make her periods blissful and stress-free.