Periods are a natural biological function experienced by people all over the world and it should be easy to discuss the topic without any awkwardness, right? Sadly, that’s not the case. It’s rather unfortunate that even today, period stigma is quite common. The topic is more often than not discussed in hush-hush tones. So it comes as no surprise why many girls are unaware of basic menstruation information
Over 26 per cent of the entire population of the world menstruates, but period taboo is still rampant in our society. To create awareness about menstrual hygiene, Menstrual Hygiene day is celebrated every year on May 28th. On this day, people from different platforms around the world join hands to create awareness about the importance of Menstrual Hygiene. This is why we thought it only fitting to address a pressing issue related to our monthly cycles today.
Not maintaining menstrual hygiene can result in severe consequences. To clear your doubts, we spoke to an expert and got answers to all your menstrual questions.
Sanitary pads should be changed every 4-6 hours whether they are completely soaked or not.
When worn for too long, it can lead to oxidation of blood on the pads. “Oxidation of blood in turn leads to production of harmful chemicals called dioxins which is a powerful oxidant. When dioxin enters into the body through vagina it causes inflammation of pelvic tissue thereby increasing the incidence of endometriosis and adenomyosis. These dioxins are known to increase the risk of cervical cancer,” explains Dr Amodita Ahuja, Consultant Gynaecologist, Laparoscopic Surgeon and Infertility Specialist at Aakash Hospital New Delhi.
Another reason why you should change your pads frequently is because the moisture generated due to prolonged usage can be harmful.
Menstrual cups are made of silicon and are free of plastic, which makes them the most sustainable option among all menstrual products. The best part about them is that they can be reused again after being sterilised. If sterilised properly, one menstrual cup can be used for 6-10 months.
We could go on and on about the pros of these cups, but, let’s come back to the main point—how often should one change their menstrual cups? “It can be used for a prolonged period of about 12 hours in contrast to pads and tampons which need to be changed every 6 hours and 2 hours respectively,” answers Dr Amodia.
Tampons are well-preferred by many because they are small, nearly invisible, and swim-safe. But how often should you change them? It’s advisable to not leave tampons inside for longer than 8 hours. However, it’s best to change a tampon between 4-6 hours.
If used for a long period, tampons increase the risk of toxic shock syndrome. “In toxic shock syndrome, bacteria, especially streptococcus, grows. And due to microabrasions in the vagina caused due to tampons, one may experience nausea, fever with chills, vomiting, dehydration and sometimes it can lead to shock,” Dr Amodia explains. She also adds that prolonged tampon usage can absorb all the vaginal fluid and cause excessive dryness and precipitating infections further.
Menstrual underwear gives you the freedom to bleed freely. It is eco friendly and can be used for years together if properly sanitised. However, do not wear it for more than two hours at a stretch. “Due to increased moisture, there can be increased incidence of rashes, bacterial and fungal infection. So it’s best to change after two hours,” says Dr Amodia
It goes without saying that maintaining personal hygiene is a must during those days of the month. Poor feminine hygiene is a direct threat to your health. It may lead to diseases like UTIs or yeast infections. You cannot afford to be lazy when it comes to maintaining hygiene during periods. Here are some tips to keep in mind for a clean and safe period.
The vagina has its own cleaning mechanism that works in a very fine balance of good and bad bacteria. “Avoid douching i.e cleaning of vagina from inside as it precipitates fungal infection,” warns Dr Amodita.
Ensure you take a bath with warm water and soap at least twice a day during your periods. And keep the pubic area clean with plain water. “Avoid using feminine hygiene washes as they can irritate the skin and cause dysbalance of vaginal pH thereby precipitating infections,” advises Dr Amodita. She also says that it would be wise to remember to clean the vulval area from front to back while using wipes as this can help prevent UTIs.
Remember to always wash your hands before inserting or removing tampons or menstrual cups. And always clean your hands with soap and water after discarding the pads or tampons.
Some women who experience heavy flow during their periods tend to use two menstrual products at the same time. However, that’s not the correct way. “Never use two pads at once as this can increase your chances of rashes and infections,” imparts Dr Amodita.
Always discard the pads or tampons after wrapping them in a piece of paper in the designated dustbins. Do not discard them in the flush as they can clog the drains.
Okay, while it may seem safe to indulge in condom-free sex during your periods, we hate to break it to you that it’s really not. “Do not miss out on using a condom during period sex as the mouth of the uterus is little dilated and if condom is not used chances of sexually transmitted diseases and pelvic inflammatory diseases increases further,” conveys Dr Amodita.
We hope that these tips help you have a happy and safe period!
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