Menstruation and menstrual practices are still clouded by taboos and socio-cultural restrictions resulting in adolescent girls remaining ignorant of the scientific facts and hygienic health practices, which sometimes result into adverse health outcomes.
Menstruation is a major part of life for millions of young girls and women worldwide. On average, a woman will menstruate for 3,000 days during her lifetime. However, the needs and challenges faced by many young women and girls as they struggle to manage their menstrual hygiene are largely ignored, especially in developing countries. This situation persists despite new developments in the hygiene and sanitation sector in recent years.
Basic facts about menstruation
- Menstruation is the monthly shedding of the uterus lining in females of reproductive age.
- Periods occur, on average, every 28 days.
- Bleeding during periods usually lasts for 5–7 days, but can be more or less than this.
- The average blood loss during menstruation is 35 milliliters.
- Excessive blood loss of 80ml or more is known as menorrhagia.
- It is common for women to experience abdominal cramps each month.
- Severe menstrual pain is called dysmenorrheal.
- 1 in 10 women experience dysmenorrheal, especially those under the age of 30.
- Menarche is the name given to a young woman’s first period and typically occurs around age 12.
- Menopause, experienced by women usually aged 45 – 55,is when menstruation ceases.
General hygiene and health measures for menstruation
- Unhygienic management can result in reproductive tract infections and urinary tract infections.
- Wash the genital area after each use of the toilet, also after urination.
- Change napkins regularly. Remember to take change of napkins whenever going out.
- Ensure that undergarments and sweat drenched clothes are changed regularly.
- Cotton panties are preferable to synthetic ones as synthetic ones do not absorb moisture and heat, making it a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Keep the area between the legs dry otherwise soreness and chaffing may develop.
- Some amount of body odour is natural but regular bathing, washing and changing of napkins will ensure that it is not noticeable.
- Bathe at least once daily. Taking a warm water bath would ensure that there is some relief to the aches and pains associated with menstruation.
- A balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Cut down on salt during your period to reduce bloating and fluid retention.Cut down on caffeine to feel less tense and irritable.
- Eat foods that are high in calcium. Calcium has been shown to help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with PMS.
- Keep to a regular sleeping schedule, consistent sleep and wake times can help control excessive fatigue or insomnia.
- A brisk walk and mild exercise are also helpful.
Menstrual Hygiene: Knowledge and Practice among Adolescent School Girls in India
Girls may start their menstrual period as early as nine years of age and as late as 16 years old. The average age a girl begins menstruating is 12. Girls who are very active in sports or who are quite thin may not develop until a later age. Losing weight while experiencing a growth spurt may also delay menstruation.
Adolescence in girls has been recognized as a special period which signifies the transition from girlhood to womanhood.
The menstrual hygiene questionnaire included queries about the type of absorbent which was used, its storage place, the use of clean or unclean napkins and the frequencies of changing and cleaning them. The information about personal hygiene included washing and bathing during menses, the practice of wearing stained clothes, etc.
In view of the vital role of the mothers, it is very important that the mother be armed with the correct and appropriate information on reproductive health, so that she can give this knowledge to her growing girl child. It is also essential for the teachers, who may not have the necessary skills to impart reproductive health education, including menstrual hygiene to their students.
Whether you are a woman, a mother, a daughter, an educator, or a healthcare professional, A Woman’s World: Discovering the Dynamic Menstrual Cycle takes the mystery and confusion out of learning about the menstrual cycle in a way that is informative, educational, yet simple to understand.
Menstrual hygiene Management
Older girls (age 9–14) menstruate around three to seven days each month. Girls who can talk openly with female teachers about menstruation manage better than girls bound by secrecy, myths and taboos. It is important that older girls have the chance to learn that:
- Menstruation is a normal part of growing up.
- It is OK to be in school during menstruation.
- Menstruation is not unclean or dirty – it is the healthy process of a girl’s body cleansing itself for a few days each month. Like pee and poo, it is nothing to be ashamed of. But it does need to be handled in the same sanitary way.
- Sanitary cloths or pads need to be changed and washed regularly.
- Hand washing with soap is necessary after handling sanitary cloths or pads.
- Pain from abdominal cramps during menstruation is common and normal, and a quiet place for girls to rest can help reduce the pain.
- Latrines for girls belong only to girls. Every girl has a right to privacy, free from embarrassment or ridicule.
GLOBAL AND NATIONAL TARGETS ON MENSTRUAL HYGIENE MANAGEMENT
- MHM is a part of all national WASH policies by 2025.
- WASH studies, policies and research include MHM in mainstream discourse.
- By 2050 all public facilities, schools, institutions, transport hubs, markets provide latrines with water, soap and disposal facilities for menstrual materials.
- By 2025 all rural and urban household sanitation programmes include MHM in hygiene promotion, innovative latrine design and promotion and linked disposal facilities.
- By 2025, 80 % of community sanitation programmes in urban slums include adequate and appropriate MHM facilities in public sanitation blocks
- By 2025 all schools include MHM in hygiene education for girls and boys.
- By 2050 all schools have adequate and appropriate sanitary facilities for washing and change management and disposal of menstrual waste. These facilities must offer privacy, safety and dignity to menstruating girls and lady teachers.
For More Details....
Menstrual Hygiene Management, National Guidelines, 2015