Importance of hygiene during menstruation is the need of the hour. The stigma around menstruation and menstrual hygiene is a big issue even today. But what is the definition of menstrual hygiene? What does it really mean? Many are not aware of menstrual hygiene management and face lots of challenges. It is a violation of several human rights, most importantly of the right to human dignity. Therefore, awareness about menstrual hygiene tips can go a long way.
Irrespective of color, caste, religion or even region menstrual hygiene awareness should be spread and that’s what Manushi Chhillar is doing. Miss World 2017 Chhilar has taken up this cause in order to spread awareness throughout the world. Her beauty with purpose tour was all about Feminine Hygiene Awareness.
Manushi aspires to eradicate the stigma attached to menstruation and how to maintain hygiene during those special days. The cause is close to her, as when she was in medical school, she first hand experienced the lack of knowledge when a woman was shy asking basics about menstruation.
Before we jump further, let’s see what is menstrual hygiene exactly and why it’s important for every girl to follow menstrual hygiene.
Definition of Menstrual Hygiene
What is the real definition of menstrual hygiene? It is to understand the importance of hygiene during menstruation and follow cleanliness within and around you.
Menstrual hygiene can be stated as the routine followed by women and girls to protect them from viruses or diseases and also the hygiene necessary to protect the environment surrounding it.
There are many obstacles and challenges that girls face, notwithstanding their living standards. At least 500 million women and girls all over the world do not have appropriate facilities for menstrual hygiene management (MHM). Some of these challenges are
Challenges of Menstrual Hygiene
1. Inadequate sanitation and water facilities
One of the major challenges of menstrual hygiene is inadequate sanitation and water facilities. Due to a lack of proper sanitation and clean water to wash, many women use old clothes, rags, etc. during menses.
This causes a lot of health issues for these women. Lack of basic facilities in schools and workplaces is a threat to their health. Germs spread with unclean hands to the rest of the body.
2. Common toilets for men and women
Lack of proper and clean toilets assigned separately for males and females in order to provide privacy. In some countries, due to lack of gender-specific toilets, women shy from using them.
On the other hand, it’s also possible that improper hygiene by women could be transmitted to men using the same toilets.
3. Lack of means to dispose of used sanitary pads
Disposing of them out in the open invites more germs and thus a lot of illness. In the light of lack of means to dispose of sanitary pads and tampons, correctly many girls do not use them at all.
4. Tampon Tax
Did you know that many countries still charge a VAT (Value Added Tax aka Tampon Tax) for basic necessities like tampons, pads, etc?
Earlier it was considered to be a luxury tax. Kenya, Canada, Colombia, and India have now eliminated this tax and many other countries are following suit.
5. Social norms and beliefs play a crucial role
In many cultures, menstruating girls and women are barred from entering the kitchen or perform religious rituals.
Even in metropolitan cities, buying menstrual products is still considered a shame. People sneer and feel ashamed. Even the shopkeepers pack them separately in an opaque packing.
6. Lack of proper knowledge is the biggest challenge!
Because of the social taboo around menstruation, many girls are not aware of the how and why of periods. They still feel it is a kind of illness that they have to endure. This is one of the biggest challenges of menstrual hygiene.
Many of these young girls are not even aware of it until they first experience it. This leads to unhealthy practices.
Menstrual Hygiene Day is observed on 28th May to spread awareness regarding menstruation and menstrual hygiene around young girls, women, and men. Here is a list of 5 things everyone should know about the menstrual cycle.
5 Things Everyone Should Know About Menstrual Hygiene
The importance of hygiene during menstruation needs to be spread across world’s young women. Here is the menstrual hygiene guide from UNICEF to help you stay clean during the menstruation cycle.
1. Change After Every 4 to 6 Hours For Proper Menstrual Hygiene
Many girls do not change until their pad or tampon is full. The ultimate rule in order to maintain good vaginal hygiene is to change every 4 to 6 hours. Sooner if you feel the need to! You might need to change your underpants too if it is soiled. Menstrual blood once released from the body attracts microbes.
The warm blood and the damp area provide the perfect breeding ground for these microbes that causes, itching, rashes and in extreme cases UTI.
But when changed regularly even in your not so heavy days, you can curb the growth of these microbes. In extreme cases, it may even send the body in shock! This is an important menstrual hygiene tip.
2. Wash Your Intimate Areas Properly To Maintain Proper Menstrual Hygiene
Washing your vagina before changing is a great way to maintain hygiene. Make sure you dry yourself too.
Did you know there is a correct way to clean your vagina?
While washing makes sure that you dry and swipe from your vagina to anus and not the other way round. The anuses carry a number of bacteria and thus can be transmitted to the vagina or even urethra and thus causing severe infection.
3. Disposing Of The Soiled Sanitary Products
Before you discard your choice of sanitation product away, it is important to dispose of them correctly. Wrap them completely so that microbes can’t be spread.
Never flush those, as it may clog the flush and making the bacteria spread. Wash your hands before and after the change with soap and even after discarding.
4. Never Use Douche or Soap
Another important menstrual hygiene tip is never to use a douche. You may find the vaginal hygiene products flooding the market and sometimes they are helpful too but in reality, it is a bad idea to use douche soap, etc.
This is because our vagina has a self-cleaning mechanism. Using such products disturbs the PH balance and can even wash away the good bacteria responsible for keeping your vagina healthy.
5. Stick To One Method Of Sanitation
Some of us tend to use a tampon and sanitary pad simultaneously or even two pads together during the heavy flow days. It might be good to protect your clothes and to keep yourself dry. But it may cause infection.
Going back to the first point where it is essential to change your pads regularly is more feasible and great for your health. Using a tampon or a sanitary bad and changing it after every two hours may help you cater to your problems.
What is important to know is due to a lack of proper knowledge, most girls miss school. Around 30% of schoolgirls miss their classes every month due to taboo and lack of hygiene products in Nepal. Most homeless women don’t even have access to such products.
There are many movements all around the world that are promoting the menstrual hygiene alike Manushi Chhilar – The Period Project, Distributing Dignity and VonChaz and her #HappyPeriod team.
They not only raise awareness but also distribute the products to the needy woman. Spread the word and not the superstition around it.
Key Takeaways On Menstrual Hygiene
- Every woman needs to understand the importance of hygiene during menstruation. The stigma around menstruation and menstrual hygiene is a big issue even today.
- One of the major menstrual hygiene management issues is inadequate sanitation and water facilities.
- In some countries, due to lack of gender-specific toilets, women shy from using them.
- Disposing of sanitary pads and tampons in a proper way is also a major challenge.
- Many are not aware of menstrual hygiene management and face lots of challenges.
- Miss World 2017 Chhilar has taken up this cause in order to spread awareness throughout the world.
- 28 May is celebrated as Menstrual Hygiene Day.
- What is the real definition of menstrual hygiene? It is to follow a routine that helps you and your surroundings to stay clean during the menstrual cycle.
- To prevent irritation, odor, and infections from occurring, feminine hygiene is necessary.
- Refer to the article above to know the correct way to clean your vagina.
- Social norms, superstitions, and “religious” beliefs make people sneer when talking about menstrual hygiene.
- Many girls are not aware of the how and why of periods.
- Some of the important menstrual hygiene tips include frequently changing pads, keeping intimate areas clean and proper disposal of pads and tampons.
- Another important menstrual hygiene tip is never to use a douche.
- Lastly, it is our duty to spread awareness about proper menstrual hygiene and educate young girls about it.
Do you care about the importance of hygiene during menstruation? What is your definition of menstrual hygiene? Share some of the menstrual hygiene tips that you embrace.
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