What To Know About Menstrual Hygiene (MUST READ)
Judy is not always her usual self during her monthly periods because she could not afford the cost of menstrual pads.
She decided to use reusable pads instead of disposable sanitary pads but was always worried about infection.
According to BioMed Central in a Women’s Health article, Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) is an essential aspect of hygiene for women and adolescent girls between menarche and menopause.
UNICEF reports that 1.8 billion people across the world menstruate every month and are unable to manage their menstrual cycle in a dignified, healthy way.
The onset of menstruation means a new phase and new vulnerabilities in the lives of adolescents. Yet they face stigma, harassment and social exclusion during menstruation.
Gender inequality, discriminatory social norms, cultural taboos, poverty and lack of basic services like toilets and sanitary products can all cause unmet menstrual health and hygiene needs.
A Reproductive Health Specialist, Dr Zahrau Ahmed, says “Menstrual hygiene is the process where women and adolescent girls are able to manage their menses using clean and safe materials in a supportive environment.”
She said it is more than just about the product usage, but ensuring that they have privacy to use them, ways to safely dispose of used products and also access to healthcare to manage menstrual-related problems.
Dr Zahrau said every menstruating young girl or woman should first understand their menstruation and be able to manage it using safe materials.
She said maintaining menstrual hygiene is very important to prevent infection.
“A woman menstruating should use menstrual pads that should be changed six to eight hours a day which she can also change every three to four hours depending on her flow.”
The medical expert said women should also have knowledge on how to dispose of menstrual pads to prevent environmental pollution.
She said, “Menstrual pads should be disposed of safely, water should also be available for her to take her bath regularly at least once a day.
“The menstrual discharge is warm and moist. So if a woman does not clean properly, there is a risk of bacterial infection so it is important that a woman changes regularly by using water to wash thus reducing bacteria.”
The reproductive health specialist said the usage of cloth for menstruation is not a bad idea but there should be some conditions to using it.
“Using clothing material that can be reusable is a safe option for women who have no access to disposable sanitary towels during menstruation.
“There was a time I, had to teach people to cut and use cloth for reusable sanitary towel which can be used and kept clean always.”
Dr Zahrau said there should be enough pieces that can be changed regularly. “Every lady should have at least six pieces and anytime she removes it, she should wash it with soap and water and also then keep it in a safe place. She should also iron it well or dry it in the sun to kill any organism that could infect her.”
She said infections that can be contracted by not maintaining menstrual hygiene could be bacterial or fungal.
The symptoms include:
– Smelly vaginal discharge
– Vaginal Irritation, and
– Burning sensation.
She said menstrual infection could be treated by maintaining better menstrual hygiene and seeing a doctor to be examined and treated accordingly.
Women should better understand menstruation and that their body is doing what it is supposed to do and it is not abnormal, she added.
Dr Zahrau said disposable pads are the best option. She advised that reusable menstrual pads should be encouraged in Nigeria for those that cannot afford disposable sanitary pads.
However, she said they should be taught how to create the clothing and maintain them like other reusable materials like menstrual cups and tampons.