Menstruation is a normal biological process that is key in maintaining the reproductive health of a woman. When the egg released by the ovary is not fertilized, the egg along with the uterine lining which was prepared for receiving the implantation of a fertilized egg is sloughed off and shed out of the body. This waste contains blood, mucous and lining tissues and is collectively called menstrual blood.
While pregnancy is a celebratory topic, menstruation is considered a dark phase that is supposed to be dealt with secretly. Regressive socio-cultural norms pertaining to menstruation are responsible for the use of unhygienic products to manage periods instead of much safer sanitary pads. Women are forbidden to bath or cleanse themselves properly during these days, which increases the threat posed to their health due to lack of menstrual hygiene.
Common repercussions of unhealthy menstrual practices
Irritation of the skin causes discomfort and can possibly result in dermatitis – a medical condition in which the skin swells, turns red, and at times becomes sore with blisters.
Introduction of bacteria into the urethra may cause urinary tract infections (UTIs). It can happen anywhere in the urinary tract and can be fatal as it can even damage the kidneys if left untreated.
Alteration of the pH of vaginal flora can happen. This can lead to changes in the environment and an increased tendency to get bacterial vaginosis. It impacts the maximum when the woman is trying to get pregnant.
Frequent episodes of such infections. Which can lead to future consequences like difficulty in conceiving, increased risk of abortions, and preterm delivery. Hence, not maintaining proper menstrual hygiene can affect the entire reproductive career of a woman.
Follow these healthy practices
Change frequently – Changing sanitary napkins or tampons within every 4-6 hours is the cardinal rule to establish vaginal hygiene. Menstrual blood, when released from the body attracts various organisms from our bodies, which multiply in the warmth of the blood and cause irritation, rashes, or urinary tract infections. Changing your sanitary napkin or tampon regularly curbs the growth of these organisms and prevents infections.
Wash yourself properly – Washing your vagina regularly is extremely important because the organisms cling to your body after you have removed your sanitary napkin. Most people wash regularly, but not the right way–which is, using your hands in motion from the vagina to the anus, not vice-versa.
Don’t overuse hygiene products – While using vaginal hygiene products every day is a good idea, avoid overusing them. The female reproductive system has its own cleaning mechanism which comes into play during menstrual cycles, and these artificial hygiene products can hamper the natural process leading to infections and growth of bacteria.
Discard the sanitary napkin properly – Disposing your tampons and sanitary napkins properly is an important step. Wrap them properly before you throw them away, so the bacteria and infections do not spread. Make sure you don’t flush them, since that will block the toilet causing the water to back up, spreading the bacteria all over it. Washing your hands properly is of utmost importance after you have wrapped and discarded the used tampons and sanitary napkins since you’re likely to touch the stained area while wrapping them.
Stick to one method of sanitation – Using multiple methods can sometimes give a false sense of low menstrual blood loss and prolonged usage of items, leading to increased chances of infection after prolonged contact.
Importance Of Hygiene During Menstruation
Hygiene-related practices of women during menstruation are of considerable importance, as it may increase vulnerability to Reproductive Tract Infections (RTI’s). Poor menstrual hygiene is one of the major reasons for the high prevalence of RTIs in the country and contributes significantly to female morbidity. Lack of knowledge regarding menstruation and menstrual hygiene leads to poor attitude and practice. There are various issues like awareness, availability, and quality of napkins, regular supply, privacy, water supply, disposal of napkins, reproductive health education, and family support which need simultaneous attention for the promotion of menstruated hygiene. ALSO READ: Can I Take Blood Tonic During Menstruation?