What is Menstrual Hygiene ?
Menstrual Hygiene, also known as Menstrual Health is a term used to ensure that a woman or a girl lives in an environment that values and supports their ability to manage their menstruation with utmost dignity and respect and also to make sure that they use safe products in order to maintain proper hygiene.
Management of Menstrual Hygiene (MHM)
Menstrual hygiene management (MHM) is an essential aspect of hygiene for women and adolescent girls between menarche and menopause. Menstruation is still a taboo in India and it is common for people across society to feel uncomfortable about the subject. The taboos surrounding this issue in the society prevents girls and women from articulating their needs and the problems of poor menstrual hygiene management have been largely ignored or misunderstood.
Good menstrual hygiene is crucial for the health, education, and dignity of girls and women, it is important that the wider society, communities and families must challenge the status quo and break the silence around menstruation. There is a need to change family and community norms and beliefs in this regard. Not being able to talk about their experience and having limited information means that menstruation becomes something to be ashamed of and to hide, and is consequently ignored in families, schools and communities In many families, the mother has limited experience in explaining the management of menstruation with regard to schooling, mobility or outdoor activities.
Communities should be aware of the barriers to menstrual hygiene management that girls face in school, as well as their role in enabling girls to successfully manage menses in school and at home. It is therefore the responsibility of those with influence – including government officials and teachers, to find appropriate ways to talk about the issue and take necessary actions. Husbands, partners or boyfriends can play a vital role in helping them overcome the struggles of those days. Below are some of the tips that you can follow to make her feel better while she is on her periods :
- Help her ease the pain
- Give her emotional support
- Provide her with fibre-rich diet
- Try to fulfill her cravings
- Pamper her to the fullest
- Understand her mood swings
Menstrual Hygiene Management Framework
In considering the specific sanitation and hygiene requirements of adolescent girls and women, state governments and district administrations have a responsibility for putting in place the following. The framework highlights the essential elements of a menstrual hygiene management programme that should be integrated in to other government schemes.
In addition to making sure that every household has a toilet, governments and all stakeholders should ensure that,
- Every adolescent girl and woman, and their families, including men and adolescent boys, must have awareness, knowledge and information so that menstruation is understood and can be managed safely without any shame.
- Every adolescent girl and woman must have easy access to sufficient, affordable and hygienic menstrual absorbents during menstruation.
- Every adolescent school girl must have access to a toilet with private space for cleaning and washing. This includes access to adequate and sustained water supply and soap.
- Also should have access to basic infrastructure for disposal of used menstrual absorbent, and should know how to use it.
Overall, it’s management is all about the awareness, information and confidence to manage menstruation with safety and dignity using safe hygienic materials together with adequate water for washing and bathing with soap and the disposal of used menstrual absorbents with privacy and dignity.
“Menstruation is not a problem, poor menstrual hygiene is”.Anonymous
Why Is it Important To Maintain Proper Hygiene During Periods ?
Taking care of yourself during menstruation is as important as taking care of your day to day activities. A little negligence can cause your body grievous harm, and you may also act as a mode of infection to others. Even in today’s age, when several menstrual hygiene products like sanitary napkins, tampons, and menstrual cups are available; 88% of Indian women don’t use the most basic form of menstrual protection available in markets.
According to a research, cleanliness of genital area and access to safe menstrual hygiene products can reduce the incidents of infection up to 97%. The proper use of sanitary napkins for periods is important to reduce risks associated with periods. Here are 4 main important reasons on, why it is important to maintain good hygiene during periods:
- Reduces risk of urinary tract infections
- Ensures good reproductive health
- Minimises the risk of cervical cancer
- Brings down the chances of rashes in genitals
Steps To Keep Yourself Clean & Healthy During Periods:
- Choose your mode of sanitation wisely. The best tip here is to try and use one brand for one type of protection for a while to know if it helps your needs, doesn’t matter if it is a pads, or a tampon or a menstrual cup. Frequent switching between brands can make you feel uncomfortable since brands are as unique as you, they suit everyone differently.
- Changing and washing frequently. The standard time to change a sanitary pad is once every 4-6 hours, while for a tampon is once every 2 hours. You will have to customize the changing schedule to your needs as some women might have a heavy flow and would need to change more often, while others will need to change less frequently. Make sure to wash yourself before you change or just wipe off the areas using toilet paper or a tissue.
- Keep your public area clean. Don’t use soaps or vaginal hygiene products. The vagina has its own cleaning mechanism that works in a very fine balance of good and bad bacteria. Washing it with soap can kill the good bacteria making way for infections. You can use soap on the external parts but do not use it inside your vagina or vulva.
- Dispose your used sanitary products or pads properly. It is very essential to discard your used napkins or tampons properly because they are capable of spreading infections. Wrapping it well before discarding it ensures that the smell and infection is contained. Most importantly it is imperative that you wash your hands well after you discard your used napkin. Never try to reuse the product by washing it off. Just throw it away as they are much likely to provide you with infections.
- Have a regular bath. Bathing does not only cleanse your body but also gives you a chance to clean your private parts well. It helps in relieving menstrual cramps, backaches, improves your mood and makes you feel less bloated. Using warm water can help you release the pain.
- Give yourself the rest you need. You might get drowsy and feel dull during your periods. That doesn’t mean that you make yourself feel sleep deprived. Instead, pamper yourself, do what makes you feel comfortable. Don’t force things upon yourself. Try to sleep in a fetal position.
Menstrual blood is the only source of blood that is not traumatically induced. Yet in modern society, this is the most hidden blood, the one so rarely spoken of and almost never seen, except privately by women.
So, these were some of the tips that might help you and your loved ones to keep yourself clean and healthy during menstruation.
Till then, make sure you have Happy and Safe periods! 🙂
This article was written by Nia Gajbhiye and edited by Ishwar Sarade of IT Department, SKNCOE for ZeroGravity.