Menstrual hygiene is a serious issue for women, particularly those living in developing and underdeveloped countries. Access to feminine hygiene products like tampons, pantiliners, pads, and menstrual cups is limited, making it difficult to stay hygienic during periods.
83% of women believe their periods prevent them from fully participating in activities, and the figure is even higher in Africa, Asia, and South America. Women in these areas absorb menstrual blood with a reusable cloth. Women who use reusable clothes do not have access to proper cleaning products, preventing them from having a hygienic period.
The most significant contributor to teenage girls missing school and women missing work is a lack of access to hygienic products such as disposable menstrual products. Furthermore, hormonal imbalance issues prior to or during menstruation are a significant factor in women and teenagers missing out on life.
What is menstrual hygiene?
Menstrual hygiene is the practice of staying clean during a menstrual cycle in order to maintain health and prevent disease. When it comes to menstrual hygiene, cleanliness refers to disinfecting yourself from bacteria caused by menstrual blood as well as reusable and non-reusable period products.
Menstrual hygiene is defined by UNICEF as “social, political, and economic factors that enable women to safely manage their menstrual cycle in order to have as little impact on their lives as possible.”
Menstrual hygiene includes access to menstrual education, health services, handwashing facilities, period products, period policy and advocacy, and safe and hygienic disposal.
Why is menstrual hygiene important?
Menstrual hygiene is dangerous because it can lead to serious medical conditions. Women who do not have access to menstrual hygiene are more likely to develop urinary tract infections, genital tract infections, and bacterial vaginosis, all of which can lead to cervical cancer and/or kidney failure.
Women who lack access to proper hygiene facilities are more likely to be impacted by the aforementioned infections when attempting to conceive. The inability to stay hygienic has more negative consequences than positive consequences, and it is something that governments, particularly those in developing countries to work on.
Lack of access to menstrual hygiene is the world’s fifth leading cause of death among women. Clean water, sanitation, and hygiene are critical to preventing deaths caused by unsanitary menstrual cycles. Every year, 800,000 women and children die as a result of a lack of clean water and basic sanitary and hygiene facilities.
According to WaterAid, a lack of water and basic sanitary and hygiene facilities is the fifth leading cause of death in women, trailing only heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infractions, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Keeping hygienic during periods is critical to preserving lives.
How to stay hygienic during menstruation
There are methods that can be used in tandem to keep infections to a minimum. Most of the methods for staying hygienic during menstruation require access to water. When you are having periods, make an effort to have access to clean water. This is so that you can use some of the methods suggested in this chapter.
Here are five things you can do or avoid to stay hygienic during menstruation.
- Using the proper washing technique, wash the menstrual blood from the vagina to the anus. Washing from the anus to the vagina may result in bacterial infection. Bacteria can be transferred from the anus to the urethral opening, resulting in urinary tract infections.
- Avoid using soaps because the vaginal septum has its own cleaning mechanism and a delicate balance of good and bad bacteria. Soaps can kill good bacteria, allowing bacterial infections to flourish.
- Change the menstrual product used on a regular basis. Menstrual blood that remains in the body for an extended period of time can cause vaginal infections, skin rashes, and urinary tract infections. Change menstrual cups, tampons, or any other product used to deal with leaking at least every 6 – 8 hours.
- Bathe on a regular basis: Bathe on a regular basis to deal with period blood and avoid infections. Bathing also has other benefits during periods, such as relieving menstrual cramps and backaches, improving your mood, and reducing bloating.
- Properly dispose of used sanitary products. Sanitary products are not only bad for the environment after use, but they can also spread infections. After use, make sure to properly dispose of the item so that it does not spread infections or emit a foul odor.
Keeping hygienic during periods is something that must be practiced and taught. Washing hands after changing a sanitary product is another thing that should be done without hesitation. Lack of hygiene during menstruation has long-term consequences, including death. To avoid infections, always keep yourself clean and ensure that the environment in which you live is also clean.