Just imagine if a girl says this infront of everybody ‘ I am on my period’. The girl would be the talk of the town for days together. There are still many girls who can barely spell the term menstruation. These normal physical changes that a girl undergoes is rarely been spoken out.
Both boys and girls undergo physical changes during their adolescent years. Menstruation is the phenomenon that girls undergo once they reach their puberty. This process helps the girls to develop their bodies in order to bear children.
The first menstruation (menarche) occurs between 11 and 15 years with a mean of 13 years and it continues till a point called (menopause)which occurs between 50 and 60 years.
Globally, approx. 52% of the female population is of reproductive age. The interesting fact is that around 3,500 days of their lives will be spent in menstrual phase i.e. almost 9 years of her life.
A girl’s first experience of menstruation is like a nightmare as she suddenly sees blood coming out of her vagina. She might even think that she is going to die or she is probably suffering from an incurable disease. It is obvious that she has little to no knowledge about menstruation as nobody had ever talked to her about this in her, say 13 years of life.
Many beliefs, myths and taboos of various cultures and religions surrounding menstruation have been laid long back. Most of these cultural rules did not have the correct understanding of what menstruation exactly was. There are people on this earth who consider it to be a disease that only comes to women and they should not talk about it. It is a taboo, in most parts of India, even now.
Cultural norms and religious taboos on menstruation are often associated with evil spirits, shame and embarrassment. Most of the women and girls are ignorant of basics in feminine hygiene and health. In some culture girls who are on their periods are considered to be unclean and they are kept away from their homes and are locked up in dark rooms till they stop bleeding.
In India when a girl child is born, the mother is looked down as if she has brought a curse to the family. Adolescent girls in india belong to a vulnerable, unwanted, neglected and discriminated group.
A girl who is on her period is often told not to go out of her home as she is something of a bad omen to her family. These are some of the myths, misconceptions and superstitions regarding menstrual blood and menstrual hygiene.
Thus this impacts negatively on education, health, self reliance, self confidence, development, mobility, freedom and empowerment of girls, reinforcing gender inequalities and exclusion
How Menstruation Taboos Impact Women’s Health?
The link between socio-economic status, menstrual hygiene practices and Reproductive tract infections(RTI) is seen very often. In a country like India, all women do not have access to good medical care or even healthy living due to poverty. Currently there are millions of women suffering from RTI’s which has many complications and has made the women’s life miserable.
The complications that a women undergo when she is affected by RTI’s are:
- White discharge
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Chronic backache
Due to poor menstrual hygiene and the taboo of menstruation, around 70% of all reproductive diseases are caused in India.
Women who have better knowledge about menstrual hygiene are less vulnerable to RTI and its consequences.
How Does Menstruation Impact on Girls’ Education and Development?
In India, to hide that you are on your period, it is often said that you have fever or some other condition as menstruation is frowned upon. Once a girl starts menstruating her education is stopped. According to an estimation of UNICEF, in India 23% of girls within the age of 11 to 12 years, stop schooling when they start to menstruate, the reason is that, 66% of the schools do not have proper functioning washrooms for girls.
Why Do Adolescent Girls Often Dropout of Schools In Rural Population?
- The strong laid myths, superstitions and misconceptions on menstruation
- Lack of reproductive health education
- Ignorance of mothers and teachers about this important phase of girls’ life
- Lack of basic facilities such as water, washrooms and privacy
- Non accessibility and affordability of sanitary pads
This is a violation of human rights where there is a lack of or no access to basic sanitation and amenities in many countries of the world.
What Is Menstrual Hygiene?
Menstrual hygiene is very important for women and adolescent girls.The guidelines for good menstrual hygiene are:
- Using clean menstrual management material to absorb or collect menstrual blood
- Using soap and water for washing the body and used cloth and also proper sanitation
- Having access to safe and convenient facilities to dispose of used menstrual management materials.
- Private space to change sanitary cloths or pads
- Facilities for safely disposing of used materials or a place to dry them if reusable
- Proper information, advice and support about menstruation.
What Are The Essentials For Menstrual Hygiene?
- Make sure that the cloth is clean, soft, dry and absorbent
- If reused, it must be washed thoroughly and dried under sunlight in private space
- Once dried, they should be ironed and used.
- Sanitary napkin are easier to use than cloth.
- There is an absorbent material layer, which gives a dry feeling
- Chances of infections are less
- Easy to use on a daily basis
When to change sanitary napkins or cloth pads
- It should be changed at least once in a day, changing every six-eight hours is recommended
- During heavy flow of blood, change on a basis of 3-4 hours
Hygienic measures followed during Menstruation
- Napkins should be changed regularly and remember to take napkins whenever going out
- Washing the genital area each time after passing urine and motion is very important
- Wipe out the excess water from the area between the legs or else it may lead to soreness and chafing
- Do not use soaps for washing vagina as they are very harsh in nature.
Why proper disposal of used sanitary napkins or cloth pads is necessary
- When they are left uncovered they look ugly and produces bad odour
- It may lead to transmission of infections like Hepatitis B and hepatitis C
- One will not have to get worried about HIV infections
- It attracts flies and insects
Proper Disposal of sanitary napkins or cloth pads
- Napkins should be disposed in dustbins
- They should be wrapped in a paper before disposal
- They can also be burned or buried in the backyard.
Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day) brings together nonprofits, government agencies, the private sector, the media and individuals to promote Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) with a vision to create a world that each woman and girl can manage her menstruation in a hygienic way – wherever she is – in privacy, safety and with dignity. It also aims to break the silence and build awareness about the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) plays in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential.
MH Day or Menstrual Hygiene Day is observed on May 28th since 2013
The theme for MH day 2018:
# No more Limits
Good Menstrual hygiene Empowers the Women and girls
True empowerment of the country is only achieved when a woman leads a healthy and dignified life. Once people starts talking about menstrual hygiene in public the true empowerment is achieved. The knowledge about menstruation should be understood by everybody in the world so this has to be added in the curriculum of the schools. Inadequate knowledge has taken away most of the rights of women. At least the upcoming generation should lead a dignified life. Let a girl child prosper and we would definitely see the entire nation prosper.
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