Menstruation is a taboo subject in India. There are so many dos and don’ts attached to this natural process of the female reproductive system. If you have grown up in India, we are sure that you must have heard ‘don’t touch the pickle’, ‘don’t go near the temple’ or ‘don’t touch the food’ one or the other time.

What is menstruation?

Menstruation, which is also known as a period, is vaginal bleeding that happens every month in women and it last for 4 to 6 days. First menstruation starts between the age 12 and 14.  During menstruation, the lining of your uterus or womb is discharged through the vagina and it contains blood as well as tissue. Many women experience symptoms and signs, including sensitive breasts, acne, bloating and mood swings, just before having a period. These symptoms are called premenstrual syndrome as they can sometimes interfere with your normal daily routine. Menstruation is not just the monthly discharge of blood but is a series of changes that your body undergoes during a period of five to seven days. Menstruation ends at the age of about 51 and it is called menopause.

Menstruation and hygiene

Menstruation is an essential part of your life and helps you to live better. It is like your health report. Some of the most common benefits of having a period regularly are

  • You know that your hormonal levels are in balance when your periods are regular
  • You will be able to plan your exercise sessions more efficiently
  • You can make a choice about your sex life
  • Learn about the wellness of your bones, metabolism and thyroid

As there are so many myths are associated with menstruation, girls are usually not aware of the importance of menstruation and hygiene during that period. Menstrual hygiene receives minimum attention. The stigma attached to menstruation can result in school dropout, absenteeism and other risky hygiene practice during periods. However, menstrual hygiene is vital for the reproductive system of the girl, well-being and overall health. Poor hygiene during the period may result in illness. Proper menstrual hygiene includes the use of clean material to collect or absorb the blood during the period. There are several feminine hygiene products or menstrual products available in the market that can be used during menstruation. Some of these products can be reused whereas others are disposable.

Menstruation and hygiene

In India, we get disposable sanitary pads or towels and tampons. If you prefer sanitary napkins, make sure it is comfortable and doesn’t irritate your skin. Another important thing to remember is to change the sanitary towels regularly and the menstrual blood gets contaminated with organisms of your body once it is out of the body. Your sanitary pad is near your vagina and is usually damp with the menstrual blood, vaginal fluid and sweat. This is the perfect condition for the proliferation of microorganisms. So you should change it regularly to maintain hygiene during menstruation. If don’t, it can lead to skin rash and vaginal or urinary tract infection.

How often do you need to change your sanitary towel or pad?

Sanitary pad change

The frequency of changing your sanitary pad depends on the amount of your discharge. You can change it more frequently if bleeding heavy. Change it when you feel damp, your pad is saturated or if you are not feeling comfortable. You can use a different type of sanitary pad for days with heavy flow and another one for the day when you experience less discharge. In general, you should change it once every six hours.

If you are using tampons, change it every two hours. It is every important to change tampons frequently as you insert the tampon into your vagina. If it is left for long period of time in the vagina it can lead to a medical condition known as Toxic Shock Syndrome or TSS, where bacteria infects your body and send your body into shock. TSS can cause serious damage to your body and even death.

Menstruation and hygiene

To raise awareness about menstrual hygiene, May 28 is celebrated as menstrual hygiene day. This event brings organisations, individuals and social businesses together to break the taboo and silence over menstruation and menstrual hygiene.