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Menstrual Hygiene: Addressing The Stigma That Still Prevails

Menstrual Hygiene: Addressing The Stigma That Still Prevails

People hardly speak about menstruation owing to which there are many myths surrounding it. In the below article, we tell you about the same. Read on to know more about this, and try to clear all your doubts regarding menstruation.

Written by Editorial Team |Published : May 30, 2022 8:13 PM IST

Menstruation, or period, is normal vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of a woman's monthly cycle. It is a natural process. But, menstruation is often considered unhygienic or impure by society. It is an essential biological function but is labelled as dirty. Women face discrimination, and harassment, and are looked down upon due to menstruation, as it is seen as a form of weakness rather than a necessary biological function. Girls are often made to feel anxious, confused, and ashamed about their periods. They are not allowed to perform normal tasks such as praying, studying, and cooking. Women and girls are confined to their homes, being excluded from public spaces, or considered to be bad luck or harmful to others for about a week every month. Lack of proper hygiene during menstruation will make it difficult for a woman or girl to stay healthy and happy during menstruation.

Poor Hygiene Practices During Periods

Here are some poor hygiene practices during periods:

  1. Speaking about the rural areas, girls do not have toilets in their homes which can lead to difficulties in managing periods safely at home. Girls or women tend to use public bathrooms and end up suffering from infections. There is also a water crisis that can leave one unclean and she may have odour during periods.
  2. Not educating girls about menstruation before it starts means that their initial reaction is likely to involve fear, shame, and embarrassment. But, poor period education means a lack of knowledge about what menstrual hygiene products are out there. A large number of girls will not be able to choose appropriate products for them. They will fail to change the sanitary pads from time to time and may have an infection. Even mothers are embarrassed or shy to discuss menstruation with their daughters.
  3. There are many myths related to menstruation like girls should stay separately, not enter the kitchen, cannot touch the pickle or pray or go to the temple. These myths should be busted and people need to be educated.
  4. Women in India use old cloth, which is often reused, ashes, newspapers, dried leaves, and husk sand during periods and that is a strict no-no.
  5. It is a popular belief that a woman must be "purified" before she returns to her family and is forbidden from performing any rituals.
  6. It is a topic that people are uncomfortable talking about and is only discussed behind closed doors. There are many girls who don't have access to sanitary pads or other facilities that force them to miss going to school or drop out of school due to even the pain caused during periods.
  7. Young girls often dispose of menstrual hygiene products in the latrine, which can cause clogging, or will throw them into nature. A majority of females will put their used products into their bags and carry them around, which is unhygienic. Sanitary pads should be made everywhere.

What To Keep In Mind?

It is the need of the hour to educate both females and males regarding menstruation, to provide all the essential facilities to women and girls, to make sanitary pads available at an affordable cost and increase awareness regarding poor hygiene practices that can lead to allergies or infections.

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(The article is contributed by Dr Swati Gaikwad, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Pune)

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