As a woman, menstruation becomes the biggest part of your life. It is so important and yet there is such little knowledge or awareness about it. Menstrual cycles come with truck loads of changes in your body. Bleeding being the number one, but not the only change. It is often associated with throbbing cramps and body pain in different parts of your body along with bloating, mood changes, appetite changes, bladder incontinence, fatigue, etc. Among all of these, menstrual hygiene is often neglected.

A lot of factors affect menstrual hygiene, gender inequality, poverty, social norms, cultural taboos and for many parts of the world, lack of basic services like toilets and sanitary pads can also be a reason.

Girls are mostly thought to use sanitary napkins or pads during their periods to absorb the blood flow. Although, due to a lack of awareness and social backwardness, they are accustomed to using infectious pieces of cloth. This cotton cloth material is washed after a while, and in some cases after an entire day. Not changing the cloth regularly or not washing it enough can be filled with bacteria which can cause several diseases and infections.  Most girls also feel embarrassed to dry the cloth and hence avoid washing it as much.

Tips for menstrual hygiene

Even Sanitary napkins require a good amount of maintenance. They need to be changed regularly, preferably once every 4 hours. Failing to do so can sometimes result in life-threatening diseases. There are also a lot of women that use a tampon. This is inserted into your vagina and it soaks all the blood. A menstrual cup has also been a great alternative. It’s a small, flexible, fennel-shaped cup that is made of rubber or silicon. A cup is pushed into the vagina and holds the blood that flows.

Basic habits to ensure menstrual hygiene are:

  • Change your pad regularly. Preferably after every 3-4 hours. While doing so, make sure to dispose of your used sanitary napkins properly by wrapping them in a cover.
  • It is essential to wash your genital area regularly. Cleansing it regularly will ensure protection against bacteria and infection caused by irritation. However, it’s recommended to not wash your vagina and vulva too thoroughly as it can disturb your pH balance and make you more prone to yeast infections.
  • It’s especially important to wash your outer genitals during periods, this will help make sure any excess blood is washed off. One must also remember to wash hands thoroughly each time after changing the pad.
  • If there is any stain in the underwear, then that must be changed immediately as it can cause bacteria to grow faster.
  • Make sure to always track your cycle. A woman’s menstrual cycle is an indication of her overall health.
  • Do not use a tampon for more than 4 hours. This leads to the risk of toxic shock syndrome, a lethal infection that spreads to the bloodstream.
  • Avoid scented products. Your vagina contains its natural flora and using any chemicals can disrupt that leading to yeast infections. Ideally, you should wash your genitals with warm water.
  • Wrapping the pad tightly before disposing of it prevents any risk of the smell and infection spreading out and this is important for you and the people around you.
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitted clothes during your cycle. Wear loose clothes and especially breathable cotton underwear. Strictly avoid synthetic underwear as it causes increased moisture and heat.

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