Menstruation is a normal biological process, which is the key in maintaining the reproductive well being of a woman.Myths and taboos in the society have resulted in a high level of secrecy about the basic menstruation facts — leading to shame and exclusion for women and girls.Inaccessible washing and limited information and materials are barriers for women and girls with disabilities managing their menstruation hygienically and with dignity. Ironically, while pregnancy is a celebratory topic, menstruation is still considered as a dark phase, which is supposed to be dealt secretly. A mother discussing the same with her adolescent daughter at menarcheis a hush hush topic and, in some cases, adolescent girls, find themselves surprised and scared by a natural event.
Regressive socio-cultural norms pertaining to menstruation are responsible for the use of unhygienic products to manage periods instead of safer and clean sanitary napkins.About 80 per cent of Indian women don’t use the most basic form of menstrual protection available,resulting in missing out on school,work as well as daily work commitments. To add to that not keeping a proper menstrual hygiene can lead to health risk well. According to studies some reproductive infections in Indian women are caused by poor menstrual hygiene, putting themin grave health risks if adequate sanitary measures are not taken. Menstrual blood are breeding grounds for several bacteria like Salmonella, Staphylococcus and E. coli. These bacteria can multiply rapidly in the reproductive tract starting from the cervix and upwards. They can enter the bloodstream directly from the mucosal membrane which is highly permeable. This can lead to sepsis and related complication.
Urinary tract infection is the most common form of infection that is present in women practicing poor menstrual hygiene.it is important to wash hands thoroughly with soap after and before changing sanitary pads because viral infections like Hepatitis B canalso be easily transmitted through bodily fluids, including menstrual discharge.
Globally, there is growing attention on menstrual health and hygiene in the development and humanitarian sectors. To attain menstrual health, it requires community involvement, which specially includes boys and men,and traditional leaders in changing perception and existing practices.Secondly, it is also important to impart correct knowledge and information at schools,home and workplace.Facilities and services should be established in an environment friendly, culturally appropriate manner with safe and efficient waste management.
Last but not the least the girls and women should have access to a range of affordable and appropriate options rather than promoting any one option.Both private and government sector should come forward in promoting menstrual health and providing the solution. Let’s pledge to provide a safe and happy environment to our girls and women by imparting education and giving them a safe environment by each one of us by our own good ways and make this world a better n happy place for them.
Dr. Meenakshi Banerjee, Senior Consultant, Obstetrics &Gynaecology, Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital