Menstruation is a normal part of life for women and somehow the conversation around menstruation is still a taboo topic. What’s worse is because this is such a taboo topic it breeds a lack of information which then leads to misconceptions and a lack of healthy practices and experiences. It’s 2022 and we need to encourage conversation around periods and period health. Read on to have some of your most pressing questions answered by our expert Dr Tanushree Pandey, an Obstetrician and Gynecologist.

Here’s everything you need to know about menstrual hygiene:

1) What is menstrual health and hygiene?

Anything and everything pertaining to your menstrual cycle and your overall well-being forms the basis of one’s menstrual health.

2) Why is menstrual hygiene important?

Hygiene in any sphere is important because it protects you from infections and helps keep you in the best shape. In the case of menstrual health, it is extra important because lack of hygiene can lead to health issues ranging from mild to severe.

3) What kind of sanitary products are available to women?

Sanitary products are available in plenty these days and we see more products being developed.

  • Snitary napkins are basic and have been around for ages, but they pose a threat to the environment. These days’ biodegradable ones are available too but they are expensive.
  • Tampons are more environmentally friendly but need to be changed every 4-6 hours and can feel uncomfortable sometimes.
  • Menstrual cups can be worn for 10 hours and reused for 10 years. This is probably the best option for the environment. However, it can be a little tricky to use and not everyone will be comfortable in them.

4) What can you do in case a sanitary product is not easily available to you?

You can use cloth in this case but make sure it’s boiled and dried in direct sunlight and store in a clean and dry place. Avoid using a dirty cloth by all means.

5) What do people need in order to manage their menstruation?

Eat healthy, make sure your hormones are in check, manage your weight and stress for long term benefits.

6) What happens when menstruation cannot be managed properly?

It can affect all spheres of life and your peace of mind. It can also impact fertility and create a problem when trying to conceive.

7) Can a person get pregnant during menstruation?

Technically no. But do use protection while having sex even during your periods because you can be exposed to sexually transmitted infections then.

8) Are menstrual products bad for your health?

Not at all. Just choose the right one and from a trusted brand.

9) Can you bathe while on your period?

Of course and you must. Twice a day if it’s humid and hot and you have been sweating all day.

10) How often should you wash your genital area during periods?

Blood offers an environment for bacteria to grow, you can wash twice a day or more if you feel uncomfortable. No need to poke your finger in or use scented soaps and vaginal washes. Those are bad. The vagina has a self-cleaning mechanism. You just need to clean around/outside your vulva with normal water and pat dry every time you urinate or change your product.

11) What can one use for hygiene during periods?

Avoid soap, water and good menstrual products is all you need to be hygenic during your period. Wash your privates from front to back. This will stop fecal matter from entering your vaginal area.

12) Should the inside of the vagina be washed?

Never. All the good bacteria will die and the pH balance will be disturbed making you more prone to infections.

13) Can you use sanitary products that are more absorbent and change them less frequently?

Pick a sanitary product that works for your kind of menstrual flow. You must change your product ranging from 4 hours (tampon) to 10 hours (cup). If you keep it for longer hours, you are risk exposing yourself to serious infections. 

14) Can you prevent odours using a feminine hygiene deodorant?

No. The vagina is not supposed to smell like roses. It has its own smell and is normal. Plus, sprays and deodrants are likely to cause itching, unusual vaginal discharge or redness. Just use water and nothing else.

15) What should intimate wet wipes contain?

They should not be used. Use normal water and dry toilet paper. Wet wipes just lead to itchy skin and pH imbalances. 

16) What is the right pH level for intimate hygiene products?

The vagina has a pH of around 5 and that should be maintained but hygiene washes disrupt that and strip all the good bacteria away.

17) How many times does one need to change their pad at night if they are sleeping for 8 hours?

During the day your flow is likely to be heavier than it is while you’re asleep, so changing your pad every 4 hours would be optimal. You can safely wear a pad through 8 hours of sleep time as your bodily functions slow down. Just make sure you don’t use tampons for more than 8 hours as it can cause severe infection.

18) What is the best way to dispose of a sanitary product and can one flush it?

Flushing any kind of menstrual product can clog a toilet so never flush it. You can wrap it up and dispose of it in the dustbin. 

19) How do menstrual products affect the environment, and what alternatives can one use safely?

The plastic used for sanitary napkins is not exactly environmentally friendly. Opt for a cup if you’re looking for the most environmentally friendly options. If not you can also use biodegradable pads and tampons. But in the end, use a product which suits you best.

20) How can menstrual hygiene be promoted?

By talking about it. Spreading awareness not considering it a taboo. Choose correct and evidence-based information.

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