The menstrual cycle is the monthly process of discarding blood and tissue from the uterus that typically begins in pre-adolescence and ends with menopause. It is not just a biological process, but a social one as well and has major social and economic implications on all women. However, it is observed that many adolescent girls and women do not have access to the right scientific facts and hygienic practices during their menstrual cycle, which may lead to adverse health outcomes.
Poor menstrual hygiene management can have a very serious impact not just on one’s physical and mental health as well. Understanding how your period works, why it happens when to expect it, and the way to manage it are all key factors needed to properly manage your menstrual cycle. Knowing that there are reliable and hygienic solutions to absorb or collect their menstrual flow during their menstrual cycle, women can do anything they normally would when they are not menstruating.
Here are a few of the important practices that you need to be aware of to maintain good menstrual hygiene during a menstrual cycle:
Keeping the pad on for a long duration
When you’re active during the day, your menstrual flow is normally heavier, so the pad absorbs more blood, sweat, and sebum. This creates a breeding ground for bacteria, which is why it is advised to not wear one pad for more than four hours a day. However, when you are asleep, your bodily functions slow down, and the bleeding intensity decreases, so you can safely wear a pad overnight.
The blood creates a favorable environment for bacteria to thrive during the time of your menstrual cycle, so rinsing the genital area at least twice a day is recommended. The organisms cling to your body even after you have removed your sanitary napkin. However, don’t wash your vagina and vulva too thoroughly, this can throw off your pH balance, leaving you more susceptible to yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.
Track your period regularly
Don’t avoid tracking your period. Your menstrual cycle is an important indicator of your overall health.
Don’t use a tampon for than 4 hours
You shouldn’t leave a tampon inside of you for more than eight hours. Ideally, you should change it every three to four hours. The risk is toxic shock syndrome, a rare and potentially lethal infection that spreads to the bloodstream. This is known to occur more frequently in women who use more absorbent “super” tampons.
Don’t use scented products
The vagina is a self-cleaning organ. It’s important to preserve its natural flora, and using regular soap or even specific cosmetic products for intimate hygiene can disrupt them. Ideally, you should wash the genital area with warm water without soap. Feminine hygiene deodorants and sprays can trigger vaginitis (its symptoms include itching, redness, and abnormally heavy vaginal discharge). Instead, you can use wet wipes or rinse your genital area with water.
Disposal of used Sanitary Napkins
Improper disposal of used napkins is a big risk to you and to the people around you during your menstrual cycle. Wrap it well before discarding it to ensure that the smell and infection are contained. Do not flush the pad or tampon down the toilet since they are capable of forming a block and can cause the toilet to back up. Always wash your hands after changing sanitary napkins as it can cause infections from viruses like Hepatitis B.
Wear breathable clothing
During your ongoing menstrual cycle, it’s a good idea to avoid tight clothing or fabrics that don’t ‘breathe’, such as synthetic ones, as these can cause increased moisture and heat, meaning bacteria tend to thrive. Stick to cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes to stay fresh and dry.
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The incidence rate there is almost twice the global average and doctors studying the disease believe poor menstrual hygiene is partly to blame. Knowing what product or material to use, how often to change it, and having access to WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) facilities helps girls and women maintain good menstrual hygiene. Awareness is the first step to ensure avoiding potential health risks.
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