Menstruation, also known as period, is a natural process that every adolescent girl and woman goes through every month. 1.9 billion women and girls menstruate every month globally, out of which 500 million are suffering from period poverty. This means that these women and girls lack access to menstrual hygiene products, appropriate formal and informal education regarding menstruation, and a supportive environment in which they can manage their period-related needs. Poverty and lack of resources are one of the causes of period poverty, but myths, misconceptions, and shame attached to periods are also the major causes. Lack of education related to menstruation and hygiene can lead to serious health issues ranging from skin disease to infections of the urinary and reproductive tracts in menstruating women and girls.
It is important that for good reproductive health, each girl and woman is well aware of the methods for management of her period in a safe and hygienic way.
Normal Variations in Menstrual Cycle
On average, girls get started on their period at the age of twelve, but it can start as early as eight years of age or as late as sixteen years. The start of the period is called menarche and the end is menopause. The years between menarche and menopause are childbearing years. On average, a menstrual cycle lasts for 28 days, and it can range from 21 days to 35 days. During the menstrual cycle bleeding occurs for 5-6 days It can take up to three years for a girl to have a regular menstruation cycle from the time she gets her first period.
Common Symptoms During Menstruation
Having menstruation is a natural process and not an illness but due to hormonal changes few women and girls can experience symptoms like backache, abdominal cramps, headaches, mood swings, nausea etc. These are normal and happen because of the hormonal changes in the body. Below are few tips to relieve these symptoms:
- Use a hot water bottle, hot tea, or take soups to help relieve pain symptoms,
- Low-intensity exercise, walking and massage can be helpful in relieving period cramps as well,
- Over-the-counter painkillers or pain relief medicine can help relieve cramps and headaches, but it is important to consult a doctor before taking them,
- In case of severe cramps or extra heavy bleeding, a gynecologist should be consulted.
Maintaining Menstrual Hygiene
Maintaining a good hygiene during menstruation is extremely important for health and well-being.
1. Practice Handwashing
One should wash their hands properly before and after using washroom and changing pads
2. Regular Change of Pads
Sanitary pads should be changed every 6-8 hours even when the flow is light to avoid infections.
3. Proper washing of cloth pad
If reusable cloth pad is being used, it should be regularly changed and given a proper wash with warm water and light soap and dried off in an airy place with proper sunlight so it can be disinfected.
4. Avoid sharing Menstrual Products
Reusable menstrual products like cloth pads, silicone cups, or period panties should not be shared with other female family members to avoid the risk of developing an infection,
5. Use Proper Sanitary Protection Products
There is a wide range of sanitary products available in the market like disposable sanitary pads, tampons, menstrual cups etc. It is important to use proper sanitary products to ensure health and safety,
6. Avoid Scented Products
Scented period products or scented toilet paper should not be used as it can cause an allergic reaction, infection, or irritation of the skin,
7. Regular showers and washing
One of the common misconceptions about period is that showering or washing oneself during period can affect period flow, there is no scientific truth to it. Showering with warm water during period can help relieve cramps, wash away harmful bacteria, and improve mood.
8. Disposal of sanitary material
The pads and other sanitary materials should be properly disposed of after use to avoid pollution as well as spread of infection.
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