GreNo West: On May 28, every year, falls the occasion of World Menstrual Hygiene Day. A topic which needs more discussions around it and something people are still uncomfortable to talk about. In Greater Noida West, there are several social activists and doctors who are helping rural as well as urban women to break the taboo around menstruation. They are initiating conversations about the need of hygiene during menstruation and helping women to build healthy habits.
Shweta Bharti, General Secretary, Noida Extension Flat Owners Welfare Association, says, “We wanted to work for the underprivileged section of the society. Those who are aware and literate can keep themselves healthy, however, there is a need to think about those who are no privileged enough to afford something as basic as sanitary pads. Due to the lack of proper information, they are unable to give proper care and time to their health. In our drives, we teach them to stay well and to eat well. That is the key to a healthy lifestyle."
She continues, "We make them aware about not using the cloth. They ask us that they wash the cloth after using, is it still unhealthy? Of course it is, the bacteria remain even after you wash the clothes. This can cause urinal infection and can be life-threatening too".
Bhawna Gaur, social activist, NEFOWA Women Wing, says, "In our drives, we find out that many women lack the knowledge of maintaining hygiene. They don't know how to dispose pad properly and take regular showers. We have made them aware of such things."
She continues, "In our every month drive, we go back to these areas and try to talk to these women to take their feedback. We do not take full responsibility of providing them with sanitary pads all the time, but we introduce using the pads in their lifestyle."
Rashmi Pandey, the Founder of Ethomart Charitable Trust, while talking about their contribution towards spreading awareness about menstrual hygiene, tells us,
“We are continuously promoting menstrual hygiene day as this is an important concern and a big taboo. Nobody wants to talk about this. In our drives, we target all the women who work in housing societies as domestic help and labourers. We not only teach them about what periods are, but we help them in understanding the reproductive systems, and menopause."
She tells that as the average age of menopause in 40-50 years, that is the age group they target. They also keep a stock of sanitary pads so that anyone who needs them can have an access to them. She tells, "Our target area is Techzone 4 in Greater Noida West. In Amrapali leisure park, we teach around 40-50 students regularly and we take care of their mothers as well."
However, it's not just the underprivileged section that needs awareness about menstrual hygiene. Dr Alka Goel, a Senior Obstetrician and gynaecologist, Cloudnine hospitals, Noida, says,
“Infections are very common, not only in rural woman but in urban women as well. If anyone catches an infection, there are possibilities that it will keep happening again."
She continues, "Even young girls who have all the resources do the mistake of using the same sanitary pad for the whole day, which causes fungal infection, rashes, redness and irritation. They should change pads, wash the perineal area, wear soft cotton panties, carry pads in the purse, never delay in consulting with a doctor, and try to wear separate undergarments during periods. Always sundry the garments. If little damp, iron them.”
Dr Anuradha Roy, Senior Obstetrician and gynaecologist, AAV Group says,
“In every six hours, you have to change the pads, no matter whether the flow is less or high."
She continues, "We need to teach young girls that it is just a cleaning process, as the wax secretion from the ears is the cleaning process of ears, saliva is the cleaning process of mouth, same way, menstruation is the cleaning process of the whole reproductive system".
She continues, “Milder medication or painkillers are ok, nothing harmful, if you have severe cramos. One must be active while menstruating by cycling, yoga, walking.”