5 important tips for menstrual hygiene3 minute
Keeping it clean
Washing your vagina
Pads or tampons disposal
Single sanitation method is best
Role of men in menstrual hygiene
Menstrual hygiene is an essential part of a woman’s life. This is not a once in a year phenomenon. It naturally occurs every month. Every woman bleeds almost half of their lives. That is why it requires utmost attention and self-care. Proper hygiene can prevent many vaginal infections as well as other physical problems.
They say that a healthy period is a happy period. That's why I have listed 5 hygiene tips you can follow and ace (or make better, at least) your period like a champion.
- Keep It Clean: When your menses start, your body slowly starts to release blood. When this happens, your vagina attracts various types of bacteria from your body in the presence of blood and a warm atmosphere. Bacteria multiplies exponentially which can in turn lead to unnecessary rashes, irritation or even a urinary tract infection. So changing your pad or tampon every 4 to 5 hours is the best way to stay clean and free from the risks of developing any infections.
- Wash Your Vagina: There are many myths and misconceptions around how to wash your vagina properly. After removing your pads or tampons, washing your vagina is the next important step. If you fail to do so, there might be an overgrowth of bacteria. I would like to remind you that you don’t need any kind of specific soap or chemical-based products to wash your vagina. The Vagina cleans itself and all you need to do is wash the outer part of it. If need be, you can use baby soap or Vwash to clean your vagina. But using lukewarm water is best and easiest way.
The best way to wash your vagina is to move your hands from your vagina towards the anus. Most people do it the other way. In doing so, the bacteria from your anus can reach your vagina and it lead to multiple infections.
- Disposing of Tampons/Sanitary Pads: The period is considered such an extreme taboo in India that nobody wants to talk about it, especially when it comes to the disposal of used sanitary pads. There are so many myths and misconceptions around the subject, especially in rural India. In some parts of India women still wash their used pads first then and then dispose it off because it is considered to be "a dirty affair". But keep in mind that these days pads and tampons are designed in a way that makes it easy to dispose off. Just make sure to wash your hands after disposing of it so you don't spread the bacteria elsewhere. Do not flush it in a toilet, only dispose of it in a garbage bag.
- Single sanitation method: Sometimes women tend to use two types of sanitation methods at the same time in case of heavy flow. For example, some use tampons and sanitary pads at the same time and sometimes some women use two pads at the same time. While this might keep your clothes from getting stained, a lot of blood accumulation might give rise to harmful bacteria. So it is better to use one sanitary pad and change it frequently.
- Role of men in menstrual hygiene- More often than not, men do not have sufficient knowledge or education about periods (especially in rural cities). Men need to be aware of menstrual hygiene. In Indian households, men are the decision-makers of the family, and this becomes a problem for women to maintain hygiene and speak about it openly. Studies show that majority of men neither bring out the topic of the menstruation, nor have they had a mature, logical discussion about it in the family.
Even today, men in rural parts of the country think that buying sanitary napkins is a waste of money and this is the reason most rural India women still use cloth pieces as sanitary pads. Neither men or elderly women of the family discuss about menstruation and its consequences with the young men of the family. As a result, these same young boys grow up to be as ignorant as their role models.
It is time for men to learn and discuss about the menstruation and its physiological changes on women. It is time for men to step up and engage in open conversation about it to become good fathers, brothers, husbands and lovers. Next time, do not hesitate to buy a sanitary pad for your sister, mother or wife.
So if you are a woman reading this, I hope the above mentioned tips help to have a healthy and infection-free period. And if you are a man reading this article, never be shy to discuss/ask about menstruation with women in your family.
Feel free to share your story the first time you encountered the word period.