Recent efforts by media, governments and other not for profit organizations have created plenty of awareness about menstrual hygiene. Most women and now even men are aware that not maintaining hygiene in periods can be dangerous for the health of the woman. Many are now aware about avoiding reusable cloth and using a pad instead. There is a minority among a huge population that is also aware about tampons and a few who care enough for the environment to use menstrual cups. However, all our education and awareness campaigns focus on just a quarter of the menstrual health picture. Here are all the missing pieces of the puzzle.
Piece 1: The Palms: Wash those hands!
Yes, it seems obvious! But very few campaigns talk about how important it is to wash your hands before (Yes, you read correctly!!) and after changing pads. This is even more important in cup and tampon users. Try to follow the six steps of handwashing BEFORE you insert your tampons or your cup. Our nails and finger webs contain both harmful and harmless bacteria. Both can cause damage to reproductive tract if they are incidentally introduced to vagina by fingers (Ascending infection). Therefore, the most important aspect of menstrual hygiene is hand washing before and after changing pads/ tampons/ cup
Piece 2: The Product: Pads/ Tampons/ Cups
The product that you choose should be a sterilized one (therefore eliminating commonly used cloth rags). The pads and tampons all are pre sterilized before packing. The cups need to be washed and sterilized in boiling water or in steam before reuse. The cup can be stored in a container or a cotton/jute bag when not being used.
Piece 3: The Paper: Disposal of product
Pads and tampons should be wrapped in paper and disposed in bins and not flushed down the toilet. Remember that this is included in menstrual health as a reminder to wash hands after disposal. Also wash hands after cleaning the cup.
Piece 4: The Pain
Having a healthy period means you should have access to a pain free comfortable period. It means ruling out a medical cause of the pain by visiting the doctor. It also means having rest when required. There are multiple home remedies and over the counter products available to come to the rescue as well.
The Extra Piece: The Period in between Periods
Don’t forget that menstrual health extends beyond the days of menstruation. It is significant to maintain healthy diet and lifestyle in between cycles to ensure a regular cycle length, duration and flow!