Menstrual Hygiene - The Basics
Periods make some menstruators feel unclean and dirty but, it is only a process of our body. It is a vital process, one that is key to life!
However, if proper menstrual hygiene is not followed, it can be messy and dirty. Improper menstrual hygiene is associated with negative impacts on both physical as well as psychological health. It can lead to vaginal irritation, urinary tract infections, reproductive tract infection and even cervical cancer.
What steps should you take?
1. Wash your vaginal area
You can have a bath once a day but wash your vaginal area at least twice a day properly. To clean, it is not necessary to use an intimate wash or mild soap every time - plain warm water will also work. Always pat it dry after washing.
2. Wipe your genitals
When you are outside or working late in the office, it may not be possible to wash your genitals properly. So, you can wipe off the area with tissue or toilet paper when you change your pad.
3. Always wear comfortable and clean underwear
Always wear clean cotton underwear during your periods, the one which is comfortable to wear. Discomfort or irritation because of underwear is not a good idea during periods. You can also wear period underwear which is not only absorbent, but also comfy!
4. Change your pad / tampon
Change your sanitary pad (regular ones as well as cloth pads) or tampon every 4-5 hours during your heavy flow days. For low or medium flow days, change your pad in 6 hours.
5. Clean reusable pads or menstrual cup properly
As you will be re-using cloth pads and menstrual cups, you must ensure you wash them properly. It should not become a bed of germs or infection. Also, change these pads every 4-5 hours. If you use menstrual cups, make sure you sterilize them before using them during your 1st day, as well as after your period is over. You must empty your cup every 10-12 hours, depending on your flow.
6. Wash your hands thoroughly
Wash your hands thoroughly before you change your period product, be it pads or tampons or menstrual cups or period underwear. The bacteria and germs from outside may cause trouble in your intimate areas. Also, wash your hands thoroughly after changing, as you do not want pathogens to spread. Washing your hand after changing your period product is necessary even when you are at home.
7. Dispose properly
Used pads and tampons become a storehouse of germs and bacteria. Throwing them away carelessly in the open area can easily invite insects and pathogens. It is important to dispose of your pads or tampons properly. NEVER flush it down the toilet as it can cause clogging. You must always wrap them in paper and then throw them into a garbage bin. Also, make sure that it goes inside the bin, not around the bin.
Please remember that these hygiene practices will not only ward off many health complications for you; it will also stop the spread of the infections to others.
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By Payal Kulshreshtha
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