Why is it important to maintain menstrual hygiene
The onset of menstruation is one of the most important physiological changes occurring in girls during the adolescent years. Menstruation heralds the onset of physiological maturity in girls. It becomes the part and parcel of their lives until menopause. Apart from personal importance, this phenomenon also has social significance.
Menstrual hygiene is a hygienic practice during menstruation which can prevent women from the infection in reproductive and urinary tract. In India, menstruation is surrounded by myths and misconceptions with a long list of “do’s” and “don’ts” for women. Menstruation and menstrual practices are still clouded by taboos and socio – cultural restrictions resulting in adolescent girls lacking knowledge and remaining ignorant of the scientific facts and hygienic health practices, which sometimes results into adverse health outcomes.
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 lead 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 needs simultaneous attention for promotion of menstruated 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 change in environment and increased tendency to get bacterial vaginosis. It impacts the maximum when the women is trying to get pregnant.
Frequent episodes of such infections can lead to future consequences like difficulty in conceiving, increased risk of abortions and preterm delivery. Hence, not maintaining proper menstrual hygiene can affect entire reproductive career of 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 themselves regularly, but not the right way–which is, using your hands in motion from the vagina to the anus, not vice-versa.
- Don’t use soaps or vaginal hygiene products – While using vaginal hygiene products every day is a good idea ,avoid overusing them.Vaginas have their 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 off 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 gives false sense of low menstrual blood loss and prolonged usage of items, leading to increased chances of infection after prolonged contact.
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