One of the few things that are absolutely unique to women, albeit not happily so, is menstruation. A normal process that begins anytime between nine and fourteen years of age, i.e., at the onset of puberty, menstruation can be quite a pain in the neck for most women. Be it the cramps, the acne, the pre-menstrual mood swings, or the constant worry about changing a tampon or sanitary napkin, periods are anything but easy to deal with. Maintaining hygiene is bloody difficult (pun intended).
However, proper awareness about menstruation can help you cope with it better. Your self-esteem will enhance and so will your academic performance if you have adequate knowledge and skills about on menstrual hygiene and its management.
What are some hygiene practices related to menstruation?
Menstruation being a monthly event that lasts for about 30 years in the lives of most women, improper management with lack of personal hygiene can lead to infections of the reproductive and urinary tract. Hence, some of the ways which you can practice to maintain hygiene are discussed below:
- Changing napkins/tampons (i.e. absorbents) regularly and carrying extra ones for changing as per personal requirement.
- Proper disposal of soiled absorbents.
- Cleanliness of the genital area after urination as well as after using the toilet, each time. Keeping the area between the legs dry thereby preventing soreness and chaffing. Make sure you clean from the front to back to prevent spreading of anus bacteria to the urinary tract and vagina.
- Regular bathing, washing, and changing of absorbents to prevent body odor.How often should absorbents be changed?
Normal timings to change pads
To maintain personal hygiene, it is imperative that you regularly change napkins or tampons especially in the first three days, which will help you prevent infections. You may be using two or three pads or multiple layers of cloth pads if you have a heavy flow. In general, you should use the instruction as per the above figure for changing your absorbents.
What are the care and washing instructions?
To increase absorbency, washing the cloth before its first use is recommended in case of a new cloth. While using old saris or clothes, ensure that they are clean before use. The pad should be soaked in cool water (which will show minimal or no staining) and rinsed after separating it in two parts after using. It should be washed using soap and clean water and dried in sun-exposed areas. However, in today’s times, practically no one uses a cloth pad, minimizing all this hard work of cleaning the pads.
How is personal hygiene maintained before and after using pads?
While fitting a pad if there are any bacteria on your hands and fingers it can cause an infection as bacteria can get transferred to your private parts. After the soiled pad is changed the bacteria from your hand might get transferred elsewhere. Hence, an infection can be avoided by maintaining personal hygiene by cleaning hands before and after changing pads.
Private parts should be cleaned gently, using light pressure, using a singular front to back motion, taking special care to avoid over cleaning bacteria. To avoid contamination with bacteria from the anus, the anus should be the last part to be cleaned. Tights and cotton underwear with good coverage should be used, to prevent the transfer of bacteria from the anal region to the vaginal area.
Does using fresheners during the menses add to a part of hygiene?
During the menstrual cycle, the use of fresheners is unnecessary. Avoid using talcum powder, perfumes and deodorants on or near your private parts as strongly fragranced products often cause dryness and itching.
Why is it necessary to dispose off napkins properly?
Napkins can lead to clogging of drains leading to overflow of fecal matter as they have both biodegradable and non-biodegradable products. They should not be flushed in a toilet. They are an unpleasant sight and can cause infections too. They should be properly wrapped and disposed in closed lid bins.
- How to choose available menstrual hygiene materials?To stay healthy and avoid physical discomfort and leakage, the materials used for menstrual hygiene play a significant role. Arming yourself with adequate knowledge about the different options available and techniques to use and dispose of the different protective materials hygienically goes a long way. The amount of menstrual flow also directs the use of material. After having adequate knowledge of all these, you should select the material as per your requirement and comfort.In a country where basic hygiene is a concern, it is important that women be extremely careful about personal and menstrual hygiene, which often might be left unaddressed or not spoken about openly.
Every female should have
- Easy access to sufficient, affordable and hygienic menstrual absorbents.
- Easy access to a separate toilet with private space for cleaning, washing
- Easy access to infrastructure for disposal of used menstrual absorbent,
- Knowledge of how to use it
Remember you can handle this in a mature way and also feel confident if you are prepared.