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Menstrual Hygiene - Why is it important & how to maintain it?

Introduction to Menstruation

A woman in a blue night suit placing her hands on her stomach

The activity of blood flow from the female genital on a monthly basis is referred to as menstruation. Marking the onset of puberty, menstruation occurs among all females usually from the age of 12-50. Commonly known as periods, the vaginal bleeding flows due the shedding of the uterine wall which prepares a woman's body for pregnancy. 

If the sperm doesn't fertilize the egg present in the Fallopian tube, the wall of  the womb sheds itself and as a result, the blood flows down from the vagina of a woman. However, if the sperm fertilizes the egg present in the Fallopian tube, the uterine wall prepares itself for the implantation of the zygote (fertilized egg) that leads to the birth of a child. 

Menstrual Hygiene - What is it? 

The activity of keeping the genital area healthy and hygienic during the menstrual cycle defines the concept of menstrual hygiene. Occurring between the stages of menarche and menopause, menstruation affects the hygiene of women and adolescent girls who experience it every month. According to UNICEF, approximately 1.8 billion females menstruate every month. From choosing the right menstrual tools to manage blood flow to having access to running water, menstrual hygiene is an essential concept worldwide. 


Why is Menstrual Hygiene Important? 

A woman standing in the bathroom with blood on the tile

Before understanding the importance of menstrual hygiene, it is important for us to first go through the repercussions of poor menstrual hygiene. 

Primarily, the impact of having a poor menstrual hygiene leads to vaginal diseases and infections that can further cause health issues.
Furthermore,a poor menstrual hygiene can also cause reproductive fungal or bacterial infections that not only affect the female concerned, but also her sexual partner (s). What's more, not keeping the genital area clean and hygienic during periods make you highly prone to Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) if you are sexually active which can be a major consequence to a woman's reproductive health. 

Such consequences can be very risky and even fatal in women who have poor menstrual hygiene. Perhaps it is very important for women and adolescent girls to maintain a healthy and hygienic environment around their genital especially during the time when menstruation occurs. Are you thinking of how to ensure menstrual hygiene? Well, read ahead and you will know the answer! 


Ways to Ensure Menstrual Hygiene

To begin with the ways that help you to ensure menstrual hygiene, here are a few measures one can take in order to stay healthy and hygienic during the menstrual cycle. 

Trim and Clean the Pubic Region

The first and foremost measure in order to ensure menstrual hygiene is to have a clean and clear pubic region. This involves either removing or trimming the pubic hair so that blood doesn't get trapped in between the hair. Moreover, it also involves wearing clean clothes and keeping the pubic area dry and clean.

Wearing clean underwear (preferably cotton) is also a way to ensure cleanliness during the menstrual cycle. While it is important to take good care of your pubic area, it is also very crucial to keep the surrounding area clean and clear. Don't forget to ensure hygiene even during the days when you are not menstruating. 

Use Menstrual Supplies Responsibly

A hand holding a blue menstrual cup

Part of Menstrual Hygiene Management is to use menstrual supplies responsibly. Engaging in responsible disposal of menstrual supplies like sanitary napkins, menstrual cups, and menstrual tampons during menstruation is important. Note that it is highly discouraged to flush any menstrual supplies as they can contaminate the sewage. Rather, one should dispose off the same in dustbins and make sure that menstrual hygiene is not only about yourself, it is about your surroundings too! 

Furthermore, there are guidelines as to how to use menstrual supplies that also lead to menstrual hygiene. 

Replace Supplies Timely

A white pad with spots of blood on it

One of the most important measures of menstrual hygiene is to replace supplies timely. If you are using a sanitary napkin, it is important to replace the old sanitary napkin with a new one on regular intervals. Similarly, one should replace other supplies like cups or tampons on a timely basis too. Usually, it is prescribed to change your sanitary napkin every 4-8 hours. However, this is from the days when your flow is moderate. Of course, other factors like blood flow, material of your napkin, and comfort level play a big role in determining the replacement of supplies. 

If one does not change their menstrual supplies timely, then one could be prone to bacterial or fungal infections that could even prove to be fatal. According to World Vision, "At least 500 million women and girls lack proper access to menstrual hygiene facilities."

Say NO to Cleansing Agents

A woman sitting a bath tub full of water

Another very vital measure that needs to be kept in mind is that one should strictly refrain from using cleansing agents or vaginal liquid washes during menstruation. This is because the pubic area becomes sensitive during menstruation and components of cleansing agents could react with the skin, causing infections or simply inflammation.

In fact, vaginas are said to have their own cleaning systems during periods which could get obstructed due to the application of such cleansing agents. Therefore, it is advised not to use any cleansing agents and avoid douching, which could put a direct pressure on the vaginal wall. 

Stay Calm, Take Rest

A woman in a night suit sleeping on a couch

Most importantly, one should stay calm and take rest during their menstrual cycle. This is because our body becomes extremely exhausted while menstruating which could also affect our mental and physical health.

Henceforth, it is advised that women and girls should take adequate rest and get ample sleep while they menstruate and take care of their health as well. However, not many women have the facilities to take care of their health during menstrual cycle. While some are ashamed to disclose their menstrual status, others are forced to work during their periods. This could lead to a state of distress and exhaustion. Perhaps it is recommended that women and adolescent girls should take care of themselves and eat healthy fruits and vegetables. 

Keep a Vigil on your Vagina

A woman wearing a white dress holding a red fruit

Lastly, it is very important that one keeps an eye on her vagina. This means that one should always look for any signs or indications that could lead to infections or vaginal distress. Check for any inflammation or skin rashes, especially during your periods. Make sure to wash your vagina everyday with clean water and wipe it with a clean towel. Ignoring any symptoms could only become harmful in the long run. 

While facilities like clean water, safe surroundings, and hygienic conditions are necessary for women and adolescent girls to stay fit and fine during their periods, many females still do not have adequate access to such basic amenities.So, it is very crucial to keep a vigil on your vagina and take care of your health throughout. 

Conclusion

Summing up, it is important for women and adolescent girls to learn about menstrual hygiene management and become aware of the Do's and Don'ts of menstruation. A monthly activity, females experience menstruation from the point of menarche till the time of menopause. All in all, menstrual hygiene is an important part our physical health and thus, it should be addressed responsibly. 

We hope this Menstrual Hygiene Day, we create an awareness on how menstrual hygiene is important for the well-being of a menstruating woman. 

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