Menstruation – a very uncomfortable word to talk about in Bangladesh, even though menstruation is a normal physiological process. It is approached with hesitance and misinformation because of the deeply-rooted cultural taboo surrounding menstruation. Women’s and teenage girls’ self-esteem, well-being, and education are all affected by the silence surrounding menstruation and a lack of access to sanitation facilities and hygienic absorbents. To break this silence and raise awareness about the importance of good menstrual hygiene management, Menstrual Hygiene Day is observed on the 28th of May every year. The theme for this year is “More action & investment in menstrual health & hygiene now!

Menstruation is the regular discharge of blood and mucosal tissue from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina which first occurs (menarche) around the age of 11 -13 years. On average the menstrual cycle is 28 days and the menstruation period is 5 days so the date to recognize Menstrual Hygiene Day is 28/5.

The women and teenagers living in disadvantaged areas suffer more because they cannot bear the high prices of sanitary napkins. Initiatives should be taken to make them free of cost or affordable. Women’s deprivation of menstrual hygiene products has been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, with most women preferring to use ripped fabric instead of sanitary napkins.

How is menstrual hygiene maintained?

Use sanitary materials:

  • Sanitary pads
  • Tampons 
  • Tissue paper 
  • Cotton wool

Hygiene practices you should follow:

  • Change the pad every 6 hours
  • Avoid douching
  • Wash the genital area after defecation and urination
  • Wash hands every time after changing pads
  • In the case of cloth, it must be washed thoroughly and dried in a sunny place, and ironed
  • The sanitary napkins should be disposed of safely especially in a bin, wrapped in paper

Beware of these gynecological issues arising due to unhygienic habits:

  • Prolong use of unclean pads or cheap alternatives can lead to urinary infections resulting in painful urination, lower abdominal pain, back pain, and fever
  • Infections of the reproductive tract, which may spread to the mucosal layer of the reproductive tract and cause severe harm to the uterine wall, ovaries, and fallopian tubes, may be caused by poor hygiene during periods resulting in lower abdominal pain, vaginal discharge, and itching 
  • Because of the friction between the thighs, using larger size shapes of fabric can cause rashes
  • Using the same pad for a long time can cause bad odor and vaginal irritation due to old dried blood
  • Many women think that having intercourse during a period may prevent pregnancy. But it is risky because they are highly likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases like Herpes, Hepatitis B, or STD.
  • Not washing hands properly after touching sanitary napkins also leads to infections like Hepatitis B
  • Poor menstrual hygiene can also cause cervical cancer which is caused by Human Papilloma Virus. This virus is transmitted sexually, and unhygienic handling of menstrual waste can spread the infection easily.
  • Using highly absorbent tampons during menstruation can cause Toxic Shock Syndrome
  • Unsafe disposal of used sanitary materials increases the risk of infecting others, especially with Hepatitis B

On this Menstrual Hygiene Day, and amidst the COVID-19 crisis, we should lend a helping hand to underprivileged women and young girls by educating them about proper menstrual hygiene. This will help every woman and girl to securely, hygienically, and without embarrassment manage their menstruation and avoid the medical complications that may arise from poor menstrual hygiene.

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