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Prioritise menstrual hygiene: A gynaecologist tells you why

The stigma around the menstrual cycle can lead to misinformation. To deal with it embracing period positivity is important.
period products
Don’t feel shameful about discussing period. Image courtesy: Freepik
Dr Suhasini Inamdar Updated: 9 Dec 2022, 16:47 pm IST
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Menstrual hygiene is one of the basic things to be taught to girls at a young age as it is directly associated with their well-being. An estimated 500 million women worldwide are lacking proper access to basic period products and they rely on not-so-hygienic alternatives. Poor menstrual hygiene or not choosing clean and right products during your periods can lead to severe health risks like reproductive or urinary tract infections which may lead to birth or pregnancy complications in future. Not washing yourself properly can also lead to infections like thrush. This is a reason why so many such women suffer from infections and diseases.

Why is menstrual hygiene important?

Menstrual hygiene issues such as urinary tract infections, birth complications, and poop fertility, can all be caused by poor menstrual hygiene. While on other hand, menstrual hygiene not just keeps your body fresh and clean but can also help you in avoiding health complications.

In countries like India, women, especially in rural areas, lack basic amenities like clean water, wash facilities, and affordable and accessible menstrual products but above all, they might not even have proper education on this subject. So, the subject of menstruation is still treated as a taboo and a lot of women avoid talking about intimate issues which further makes it harder for them to get educated about it. So, promoting period positivity among people becomes self-explanatory here.

period positivity
Be safe when you practice feminine hygiene practices. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Why is period positivity important?

Challenges that come along with periods for women have to do with a lot more than just inaccessible menstrual products and education. The major problem is that menstruation is associated with shame for so many and this pre-existing notion is a bit difficult to avoid. A lot of young girls drop out of school as they don’t get proper access to menstrual products in their educational institutions.

Also read:  Give it up for the ‘new’ PMS: Positive menstrual syndrome

While menstruation is a normal part of women’s physical functioning, it is constrained by cultural taboos and discriminatory social norms. For generations, women have had to go through social and economic discrimination for something that should be considered normal. The misconceptions lead to negative altitudes for women which motivate shaming, bullying, and even violence. To ensure menstruation awareness in women, we need to create a supportive environment for them where they can be open about it.

How can you help bring change to the situation?

Over the decades, a lot has changed in terms of awareness among people about menstruation. The progress made in this area is slow but steady. People used to be uncomfortable talking about menstruation but slowly it is finding its place in our regular conversations and finding answers to your queries is just one click away for many people. This all became possible due to the efforts of health educators and government schemes which helped in making resources and education accessible for women in need. The work and efforts of several people and organizations have helped in bringing inclusivity to the most disadvantaged sections of society which is a good start for change. Though such efforts have made conversations possible about real problems like lack of toilets, clean water, period products, etc., they won’t be able to work to their full potential unless the stigmas and negative mentality are here to stay.

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period positivity
Do not take your menstrual health for granted. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

If you want to help on a personal level, you can start by educating people around you. Make people around you understand how these stigmas are affecting society and how changing the way they think can change a lot.

Telling people that periods are natural and healthy, that they can help you understand your body better, and a healthy period cycle indicates a better sex drive and healthy sexual life will also help them comprehend the significance of the menstrual cycle and why having a period is normal.

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About the Author

Dr Suhasini Inamdar is a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology department at Motherhood Hospitals, Indiranagar, Bengaluru. She has nearly 30 years of experience in the field of obstetrics, gynaecology, laparoscopy and infertility. She is an expert in dealing with High-Risk Pregnancies; Bad Obstetrics History; Infertility Problems; Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) and Hysterectomy. She has experience in post graduate teaching for MRCOG and DNB. ...Read More

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