The year 2017 saw a surge in the conversations around menstruation in India. Movies like Phullu and the upcoming Padman brought Periods to the big screen while campaigns like First Day of Period Leave addressed the elephant in the room with a blunt boldness. India is witnessing a change. An acceptance of sorts in conversations around periods like it never has before. And so, we must play our part to keep the conversation alive.
Let’s take a look at Menstrual Hygiene. Every woman has her own personal strategy when it comes to maintaining healthy menstrual hygiene. But it’s imperative to know the do’s from the don’ts. In India, around 355 million women menstruate, but unfortunately, only 12% of them have access to sanitary napkins. This is an alarming state but poor menstrual hygiene is not just restricted to those who do not have access to proper menstrual-care.
Here’s a list of some detrimental menstrual hygiene practices that might be causing you more harm than you expected.
Keeping the pad on for a long duration
No matter what brand of sanitary napkins you use or how super-absorbent they are, you must change your pads frequently. Wetness can lead to skin infections and even cause the pad to tear open which in turn exposes your vagina to harmful chemicals present in conventional pads.
Insertion of an unclean tampon
It is important to check the quality of tampons that you use. Make sure they are individually sealed and that you wash your hands with soap before inserting a fresh one in, to avoid infections.
Usage of highly absorbent tampons
Low blood flow and highly absorbent tampons are inversely proportional to each other. They can lead to Toxic Shock Syndrome and can even be life threatening.
Incorrect wiping post urination or defecation
India is still fighting to build toilets, so wiping your parts after using the loo is still a new concept. While wiping, make sure you go from front to back to keep the bacteria from entering your vagina.
Unprotected sex during menstruation
The probability of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Hepatitis B or passing of the HIV virus increases if women engage in unprotected sex during menstruation.
Disposal of used Sanitary Napkins
Improper disposal of used napkins is a big risk to you and to the people around you. Especially if you are a young girl living in a hostel or share a bathroom with other menstruating women, make sure you wrap your used napkins carefully before dumping them in the dustbin.
How you clean your vagina has a big impact on your health. Spraying it with too much water can in fact, expose it to bacteria. It’s a self-cleaning organ. Let it do its thing and stop interfering!
Not washing your hands while changing sanitary napkin can cause infections from viruses like Hepatitis B.
So, here are some menstrual hygiene tips you must keep in mind while on your period
- Change your sanitary napkins at least 2 -3 times a day.
- Dry washed undergarments under the sun to minimise the chances of infections.
- Don’t skip a bath during periods. The chances of infections reduce if your body is clean.
- Wipe your vagina with a soft tissue after using the loo (front to back), especially during periods. Keep dry, keep clean.
- Wrap your used napkins or tampons carefully before disposing them.
- Use antiseptic hand wash while changing pads or tampons.
- Opt for sanitary pads that are natural and do not use artificial additives like perfumes or harsh synthetics.
- Don’t hesitate to talk about periods. Even if it means confronting your roommate about her poor period-hygiene, talk about it.
Menstruation is a nuisance, but it can be a lot less messy if we keep these few things in mind.
Note: A major percentage of women in India do not have access to proper menstrual care. The importance of menstrual hygiene is overlooked due to the lack of financial resources to afford good menstrual healthcare. This is a situation in which women from lower economic backgrounds or rural areas find themselves in. They are often forced to use ashes or husk sand during their periods. Some even tie a cloth to their underwear to deal with the flow of periods. Which is why, Carmesi donates a portion of its earnings to provide period-care to women in need. So, with every pack of Carmesi that you buy, you help a woman bleed with dignity.