The Indian society, for long, has wrapped the discussion around menstruation and menstruation related issues in opaque newspapers and black poly-bags. Much the same way the shopkeepers wrap the packets of sanitary napkins, before gingerly handing them over to the buyers. The subject on menstruation has been a taboo, one that has been dealt with a lot of shame and stigma. Ironically, girls are taught about their womanly duties, and many other ‘social’ aspects of menstruation – not being allowed to enter a temple during their period, not being allowed to cook, and staying in isolation because the girl is now impure – are only some of the many instructions that are drilled into the girl. Rarely does anyone talk about the real deal – menstrual hygiene. Here five things about menstrual hygiene that every girl should be aware of.
Choose your method of sanitation carefully
There are a range of products you can choose from – sanitary napkins, tampons, menstrual cups. The most commonly used products are sanitary napkins or pads. It may take some trial and error to decide which product you are most comfortable using. It is strongly advisable to use only one product at a time. For example, you may think it’s a good idea to use a tampon as well as a pad during the first days of your period, when the flow is heavy, so you need not change regularly. However, it is actually a good idea to change as frequently as necessary so that you are less prone to infection, or rashes. Using more than one product at a time can also be very uncomfortable and inhibit mobility even further.
This is linked to what we spoke about above. It is very important to change your sanitary product frequently. On an average, a sanitary pad should be worn for no longer than six hours and a tampon no longer than two hours. However, if your flow is heavier you would have to change more frequently. When you leave your pad or tampon on for a long time, there are chances of a bacterial infection, since the bacteria tend to multiply in moist and warm conditions, leading to urinary tract infections or rashes. It is especially important to be more careful if you are using tampons, if it remains inserted in the vagina for a long period of time it can cause something called the Toxic Shock Syndrome, a severe and at times even fatal condition.
Avoid using soaps or vaginal hygiene products
The media today offers us a range of options for vaginal hygiene products to choose from. However, it is recommended to avoid using soaps or other vaginal hygiene products on your vagina. The vagina has its own cleansing mechanism, using soap could even kill the good bacteria which would then lead to infection.
Use the right washing technique
One of the least known and most ignored facts about menstrual as well as vaginal hygiene is the method of washing. Clean the area with a motion that is in the direction from the vagina to the anus, and not in the opposite direction. Washing in the opposite direction causes bacteria from the anus to accumulate in the urinary tract which can lead to infections.
Dispose your sanitation product carefully
For both your hygiene as well as the hygiene of others. Always wrap the used sanitation product before discarding it, so that the smell and infection does not spread. Avoid flushing the tampon or the pad down a toilet since that can block the toilet. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after disposing the used product.
It is high time we broke the taboos and spoke more about menstrual health and hygiene. It is important for both boys and girls to be aware that menstruation is a very normal part of a woman’s life, and if at all certain aspects of it are to be dealt sensitively, what are they.
Even if you knew about all the facts we’ve spoken about in this post, make sure you share them with someone who would benefit from reading this post! Or spread the information in your own way!