Ladies, we all get periods, period. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a part of the process of being a powerful woman that you are. In fact, you should be proud that you bleed once a month, undergo a great amount of discomfort while at it, and still can do everything like nobody’s business! Only women are blessed with such strength.
In ancient times, a woman talking about her menstrual cycle was considered a taboo. Forget talking, acknowledging that you’re on your monthly period problem was something to be embarrassed about. From being locked up in a room for the four days of menstruation to talking about it openly now, times have definitely changed for the good. Unfortunately, there are still a few rural areas in India that are yet to see the light of day. Menstrual hygiene awareness through progressive films such as Padman has definitely altered the thinking of people but we still have a long way to go and know the importance of menstrual hygiene and its preventions.
Women bleed for about 3-5 days a month. Some bleed for even more than that, some don’t bleed every month depending on their cycle or conditions like PCOD and PCOS. While it is not an experience we all look forward to, it doesn’t stop us from keep going, does it?
Getting periods is a completely natural process. But as we bleed every month, the chances of getting infections are high since bacteria harvests in warm blood. But don’t worry about maintaining personal and menstrual hygiene as we are here to answer all your queries.
Change your sanitary pads regularly, keep your intimate area clean, and wash your hands to not let bacteria harvest near your vagina. Using dirty or damp menstrual products for longer than 4 hours can result in a high risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) and, boy, you do not want that!
For bacteria, our warm blood is a favourable environment to thrive and grow. Therefore, you must keep your vagina and the area around it clean, especially during that time of the month. No matter how your flow is, if you are on your period, you must follow some basic tips for menstrual hygiene to have a happy period and here they are:
- Change your sanitary napkin every 5 hours
- Wear cotton panties
- Wash your intimate area with caution
- Avoid using soaps or vaginal hygiene products
- Discard your napkin properly
- Always stick to one type of menstrual product
- Bathe every day
Changing your sanitary napkin or tampon or menstrual cup after every 4-5 hours is the most basic rule. Even if your flow is low or you’re on your third or fourth day, don’t keep wearing the same menstrual product for hours just ‘coz nothing is coming out. Menstrual blood attracts various organisms to itself and not getting rid of your stained pads only multiplies them with time. It can also lead to infections and cause irritation and severe rashes down there.
Wear breathable, cotton panties so that your pubic area breathes too. Remember, you’re not just wearing panties, there’s also a menstrual product crowding the area. Having too much sweat down there mixed with the odour of blood is only going to make things worse and you uncomfortable. A soft fabric like cotton ensures ease and freshness throughout the day.
Not just changing your menstrual product regularly but washing your vagina is also important. Whenever you change your pad, for instance, some unwanted organisms can get transferred to your hands or other parts of your body and the vagina is the most sensitive one. The right way to wash it is by simply using water. You can use your hand shower or jet spray every time you use the loo to maintain hygiene during these days.
Washing your vagina with a vaginal hygiene product is recommended but not during periods. Vaginas are self-cleaning, besides, using any type of soap-based product can be messy during periods. Using too much artificial hygiene products can also dry the area further causing irritation and lead to the growth of bacteria.
Disposing off your sanitary products such as napkins or tampons is an important step in menstrual hygiene. Never flush them as that can clog the toilet. Most people wrap them in an old newspaper and/or use a separate bag to dispose of used sanitary products so as to not spread the bacteria onto other things.
What do you prefer to use when you’re bleeding? A tampon? Sanitary napkins? No matter what you use, always stick to one type of product during one cycle, irrespective of your flow. The combination of two or more products can cause infections.
If you tend to skip taking a bath every day, do the complete opposite of this during your periods. Taking a warm shower will not only help you feel relieved of those period cramps but will also calm you from head to toe and reduce the chances of you catching any infections. It all comes down to keeping yourself clean.
We bet you have a lot of questions about menstrual hygiene and we're here to answer them all.
A: YES! In fact, if possible, you should take a bath more than once during your periods. There are a lot of chances of you getting infected from the blood or getting rashes due to the continuous use of sanitary pads. Taking a bath will allow your body (read vagina) a break from menstrual products and a good few minutes to breathe and stay clean.
A: WHO said that? It is your body, you should do whatever you feel like. Not washing your hair during periods, washing your hair on the first and last day of your period, etc. are all ancient beliefs that you absolutely don’t NEED to abide by. Remember, personal hygiene is key so please wash your hair as and when you will.
A: Getting periods is normal. If you workout normally, why not now? It’s a healthy habit to keep some form of movement in your body on a daily basis. However, go for an easy workout if cramps are being too harsh. At the same time, light exercises such as walking, crunches, etc. can help relieve period pains!
A: Healthy period blood colour usually varies from blood red to dark brown (can sometimes look black). If your menstrual blood is really light or looks orange or has hints of grey, it is a sign that you have an infection and must consult your doctor right away.
A: Common ingredients in intimate wet wipes include calendula and aloe vera. Usually, it is advisable to refrain from using wet wipes that have alcohol in them since wipes that contain alcohol are not gentle and tend to dry out the skin. Also, wet wipes are not good for the environment, so avoid using them unless they are environment-friendly. Cleaning with water to take care of your intimate area is enough.
A: Yes. Just like you wash your hair after using the loo, you must wash your hands after changing your sanitary pads as well. As mentioned above, used napkins are hotbeds for bacteria and you don’t want to get infected.
There, you have it. Everything you need to know about menstrual hygiene and how to maintain good hygiene during menstruation and why you should keep your area down there clean at all times, especially during periods.
Have a healthy, clean period!
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