Every year on the 28th of May we mark Menstrual Hygiene Day. Everyone calls it a celebration, but the truth is, unfortunately, far away from this. The Menstrual Hygiene Day should be the day when we all work together to break taboos surrounding menstruation and raise awareness of the importance of good menstrual hygiene management worldwide.
Menstrual hygiene is much more than hygiene as a word – it is important for a woman’s body and even more important for her health. Being able to talk about menstruation without any shame and restraint is very important for the mental health of the person and the development of the person and society in general.
Learning the basics of menstrual hygiene is important! It helps ensure that you are fully informed about the right way to stay healthy and avoid infection during menstruation.
Menstruation is a time of heightened risk of certain infections, including some sexually transmitted infections. This increased risk of infection occurs because the mucus that usually blocks your cervix opens during menstruation to allow blood to pass out of the body. This makes it possible for bacteria to travel up into your uterus and pelvic cavity. Changes in vaginal pH also make yeast infections more likely.
The basics of menstrual hygiene
Bathe or shower at least once a day to keep your body clean and avoid odor. We know that we need to wash our hands after going to the bathroom and changing menstrual protection or cleaning our vulva and vagina, but before is important too. Think about how many things you touch on your way to any given washroom!
Wash the right way
Because your vulva and vagina are more sensitive than other parts of your body, they require a different kind of wash product. Always wash externally and never use normal body soap or body wash. Avoid douches or shampoo on your intimate area, which can upset your natural flora and acidity. Opt for a wash specially formulated for intimate use or just use your hand and warm water.
Wipe from front to back
When you wipe from back to front you risk exposing your vagina to harmful anal bacteria that can cause infections such as urinary tract infections and yeast infections. Always wipe front to back and try to keep your vaginal and anal wiping separate.
Consider your wardrobe
Avoid clothing that is tight between your legs, or fabrics that don’t breathe. (Yes, we’re talking about synthetic yoga pants.) Wearing clothing close to your vulva can cause increased moisture and heat that can also irritate your skin. Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing to stay fresh and dry.
Change pads and tampons often
Continual use of the same sanitary pad or tampon increases your risk of infection and toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Prolonged exposure to damp sanitary pads can also irritate your skin, which can eventually become broken and risk infection. If you’re avoiding changing your tampons or pads because they’re expensive, look in your community for free or discounted period products. There’s no shame in asking for a little help!
Practice safe sex
During menstruation, you face an added risk of passing on or contracting blood-borne diseases, such as HIV or Hepatitis B, through unprotected sex.
This heightened risk results from the higher concentrations of HIV and Hepatitis B found in blood, as opposed to the comparatively lower concentrations in other body fluids such as semen and vaginal secretions. Having your period doesn’t mean you have to stop having sex if you don’t want to. (Some people love orgasms as a natural-cramp reliever!)
If you are going to have partnered sex on your period, use a barrier method to protect yourself such as a condom. If you have sex with someone without a penis, make sure to read up on your STI risks here.