Many women in India go through their periods in secrecy. Because of the stigma, they feel conscious and thus, seldom take the time to consider whether or not their habits are sanitary. Some women in the countryside and smaller cities still utilise reusable unclean cloth because of a lack of awareness or resources.
Menstruation is one of the most important bodily functions that require extreme caution and self-care. The key to easing the pain during menstrual periods is to maintain adequate cleanliness and eat a healthy diet. CitySpidey talks to Dr Madhu (38), a Delhi based Gynecologist to know more important menstrual hygiene habits on World Menstrual Hygiene Day.
Talking about hygiene she says, “It is very important for every girl to take good care of her body during periods. During these 4-5 days, our body needs extra pampering, a healthy diet and proper hygiene. If we don't take proper precautions, our body becomes susceptible to catching the infection. The blood loss our body faces during periods makes our body weak and also because of pad and blood, the chances of getting the bacterial infection increases. So, I suggest everyone follow some tips to have healthy periods.”
Here are some hygiene guidelines for your periods, some of which you may not be aware of-
Change your sanitary napkin every 4-6 hours
Dr Madhu says to maintain vaginal cleanliness is to change sanitary napkins or tampons every 4-6 hours. When menstrual blood is shed, it draws a variety of organisms from our bodies, which multiply in the warm blood and cause discomfort, rashes, and urinary tract infections. The growth of these organisms is slowed and infections are avoided by changing your sanitary napkin or tampon regularly.
“In Summers, conditions like sweat and heat can increase the chance of bacterial or fungal infection. So, it’s very important to change the pad whether there is a heavy flow or not,” says Dr Madhu.
Because germs stick to your body after you remove your sanitary napkin, it's very important to wash your vaginal area frequently. Try to wash properly to avoid any kind of discomfort or stain. If you don’t clean yourself properly, bacteria can be transmitted inside your body, resulting in infections. Take bath regularly, even if you’re feeling weak or don’t want to get up, it’s just to take bath during periods.
Also read: 5 Myths and Facts about Menstruation
Don't use soaps or vagina hygiene products during menstruation
While utilising vaginal hygiene products daily is a good idea, using them during menstruation can cause problems. During monthly cycles, the vaginal cavity has its cleansing mechanism, and these artificial hygiene products might obstruct this natural process, resulting in infections and bacteria growth.
Talking about hygiene products' side effects, Dr Madhu says, “Young girls, try and test many intimate hygiene products in periods and using these on regular basis is fine if it suits your skin type. I suggest not to do experiments with your body-sensitive parts during periods. The chemicals present in these products can cause serious health problems because every product is not for everyone. The skin and body type of every individual is different. So, consult your gynecologist first before using anything.”
Discard the sanitary napkin properly
It's important to properly dispose of your tampons and sanitary napkins. Before throwing them out, wrap them appropriately to prevent bacteria and illnesses from spreading. Make sure you don't flush them because this will clog the toilet, causing the water to back up and spread bacteria all over the place. After you've wrapped and thrown the used tampons and sanitary napkins, you should wash your hands well because you're likely to come into contact with bacteria.
Use one pad or tampon at a time
During heavy flow, women typically use tampons and sanitary napkins, or two sanitary napkins at the same time, which is an effective strategy. While it may keep you dry and avoid stains on your clothes, it also has the potential to cause infections. We become indifferent to the need to replace our tampons and sanitary napkins as a result of the combination of two ways that absorb the blood. The stored blood encourages bacteria and causes diseases if it is not changed frequently. During strong flow, it's best to use one sanitary napkin and change it as often as possible.
Beware of a pad rash
You can get a pad rash if you're going through a period of excessive flow. It usually happens after the pad has been moist for an extended period and scrapes against the thighs, causing it to chaff. To avoid this, try to avoid getting wet during your period. If you do get a rash, make sure to replace your pads regularly and stay dry. After a bath and before night, apply an antibiotic ointment to the rash to heal it
Dr Madhu, Gynecologist says, “This is the most common problem face but no doubt it is very irritating and uncomfortable. Try to stay dry and change your pads in a small time of intervals. Also, you can use antibacterial ointment or you can consult with your gynecologist so, he/she can prescribe you rashes powder or medication.”
Be ready with on-the-go stuff during your periods
It’s very important to be periods ready. Always carry extra sanitary pads or tampons, some tissues, a hand sanitiser, and a tube of antibacterial ointment or a prescribed pain killer. This all should be kept in a clean pouch.