Menstrual Hygiene
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Menstrual hygiene: What products to use

A variety of products help deal with the period flow: cloth or cloth pads, disposable sanitary napkins, tampons, and menstrual cups. A person may choose a product that they feel is comfortable and affordable. However, with each product, there is a set of measures to follow to stay clean and infection-free.

Cloth or cloth pads

A whopping 62% women in India use cloth as a means to contain the period flow, mostly, because of unavailability or high cost of other feminine-hygiene products. Cloth is good for the environment as no disposable waste is created by using cloth. But, a major challenge of using cloth is to keep the skin around the vulva dry to prevent infections as moisture from the period blood and the warmth of the human body is an ideal place for bacteria to grow.

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Cloth must be changed regularly according to the heaviness of the flow. After each use of the toilet, it must be made sure that the genitals are properly washed and dried, so there is no wetness added to the sanitary cloth. When using cloth, it must be ensured that after each use, the cloth is thoroughly washed with detergent and disinfectant, and properly dried in direct sunlight.


Sanitary napkins

Disposable sanitary napkins that are stuck to the underwear must be changed every four to six hours, even at times when the flow is really light. Even super-absorption pads are breeding ground for bacteria because the chemicals in them react with the period blood on them and wearing these pads for long duration is an invitation for rashes and painful infections.

After each use of the toilet, it must be made sure that the genitals are properly washed and dried, so there is no wetness added to the sanitary napkin.


Tampons

Tampons are disposable menstrual-hygiene products that are inserted inside the vagina to absorb period blood and have a string hanging outside of the vagina (to help pull them out after use). Many women use tampons to avoid the skin irritation that sanitary pads often cause while also catching the period flow without it flowing outside the body. Tampons can also be used by women if they want to swim in their periods. If inserted correctly, the tampons won't fall out, so go ahead and swim! Tampons are also helpful for girls who exercise or play sports during their periods.

The rule of changing every 4-6 hours, at any rate, applies to tampons as well. But, for some women, and on some days, the tampon might have to be changed sooner in case of heavier flow.

Tampons must not be worn overnight as leaving a tampon in for too long may lead to toxic shock syndrome (TCS). The risk of TCS is said to be higher with the super-absorbent variety of tampons.


It must also be ensured that the string of the tampon does not get wet or soiled while using the toilet. One must hold the string away while using the toilet or remove the tampon altogether if that is not possible.
 

Menstrual cup

Menstrual cups are reusable menstrual-hygiene products that are made of medical-grade silicon and inserted into the vagina. The cup only collects the period blood and does not absorb it. Menstrual cups produce no menstrual waste, unlike sanitary pads and tampons. If inserted correctly, the cup won't fall out and can be used by girls who exercise or play sports and swim during their periods.

A menstrual cup must be disinfected at the beginning and end of each period, by boiling it in water for 10-20 minutes. During your period, a cup can last can last for any length of time depending on the amount of period flow, before it has to be removed, emptied, washed and re-inserted. Cups can be safely worn during the night as well.

When the menstrual cup fills up, it should be emptied into a toilet or sink and washed with clean water. Usually, they come with paper-soap to wash the cup after each use. Since a menstrual cup is worn inside the vagina and no part of it is outside the body, it does not interfere while we are using the toilet.

Disposal of menstrual-hygiene products
 

Cloth is reusable and, hence, need only be washed when soiled with blood.

Sanitary napkins and tampons must be wrapped in a piece of paper or the packing paper they come in while disposing them in a dustbin. They must never be flushed into the toilet as this will block the drainage passage.

Menstrual cups are reusable and can last up to ten years. They only need to be emptied and washed each time they fill up. Additionally, they have to be sterilised by boiling them in water at the beginning and at the end of each menstrual cycle.

It is absolutely necessary to wash our hands with soap and water before and after handling any menstrual-hygiene product.

Love Matters and Miss Menses wish all women a happy and safe period on the #NoMoreLimits World Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28).

Read more here on Menstrual Hygiene: Top Facts 

Do you have any questions on menstrual hygiene? Ask Love Matters (LM) on our Facebook or consult LM experts on our discussion forum.

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