Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) is defined as “Women and adolescent girls using a clean menstrual management material to absorb or collect blood that can be changed in privacy as often as necessary for the duration of the menstruation period, using soap and water for washing the body as required, and having access to facilities to dispose of used menstrual management materials”
In layman terms, menstrual hygiene includes the following:
In India, menstruation is still considered something that shouldn’t be discussed, as a taboo. Many young girls and women even today are still unaware of hygienic practices that need to be followed during menstruation. Also, they are not aware of the possible health problems that can arise when proper menstrual hygiene is not maintained. Girls and women in semi-urban or rural areas of India still use cotton clothes during menstruation instead of sanitary pads. They wash the clothes and reuse them every time. Here, we want to put forth a little information on menstruation and ways they can maintain menstrual hygiene.
A girl when reaches the age of 12 or 13 years of age gets her first period. She is not even aware of why she bleeds until then. The female reproductive system starts from the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. Every month (approximately every 28 days), a thin layer forms on the inner walls of the uterus. This is called ‘Endometrium’ or ‘Endometrial layer’. This layer is responsible for holding the fertilized egg and supporting the growth of the fetus. During the middle of the month, an egg is released by the ovaries which wait for 24 hours for a sperm to fertilize. When the sperm doesn’t arrive, the egg is absorbed into the body and at the end of the cycle, the endometrial layer is shed and removed from the body through the vagina. This flows out of the body along with blood and other fluids for a period of 3 to 5 days, which is called ‘menstruation’. Every time the egg doesn’t get fertilized, the cycle repeats.
As mentioned already, the following is what you need to do to maintain proper hygiene during menstruation:
Following are the pads/material you can use to collect the discharged blood during menstruation:
If you are looking for nature-friendly, reusable cloth pads, you have many options today. Once used, you need to wash it thoroughly and dry it in direct sunlight to disinfect it before using it again.
Most commonly used by women. You need to open it, place it in your underpants as directed, and discard it properly. Some women feel that the use and throw pads are not environment friendly and fill up the dumping grounds.
Tampons are cylindrical-shaped pad-like items that are can be inserted into the vagina during menstruation. The sponge-like soft material absorbs the menstrual fluids and should be discarded when it can’t take any more. After that, clean the area with water and soap and insert a new one. Tampons too like sanitary pads are not environmentally friendly unless they are reusable tampons.
Small foldable cups made with soft silicone. The cup should be inserted into the vagina (which can be easily done) and it holds all the discharge from the vagina. Once full, it can be emptied, cleaned, dried, and reused.
Made with banana tree parts and used in many rural areas of India. The pads are 100% environmentally friendly as they decompose in six months after discarding.
These pads are made from water hyacinth, a free-floating perennial aquatic plant that is native to South America. Like banana fiber pads, they too are 100% environmentally friendly and decompose after discarding.
We can’t reiterate enough that maintaining menstrual hygiene is very important and that includes changing to fresh pads every time necessary and washing the area with water and soap. Ignoring menstrual hygiene can lead to several infections that can infect the urinary tract or the vagina or even the skin around the area. “Should you have any pain or burning sensation when peeing or have a rash or itch around the vagina, you must see a good gynecologist near you immediately” says Dr. Manu Lakshmi, one of the finest female gynecologists in Chennai.