Menstrual Products as Essentials

Menstruation or in a layman’s language-period is a process in which the blood and mucosal tissues are discharged from the uterus through the vagina. During this phase, around 80% of women experience symptoms like weariness, irritability, emotional imbalance and bloating. Its occurrence is due to the rise and fall of hormones. Many women also experience unbearable cramps known as dysmenorrhea. Menstruation is primarily managed by wearing various menstrual products. Proper care of menstrual hygiene is as cardinals supervising to other activities of daily living. A little delinquency can spread infection and can cause severe harm to the body. Despite the availability of menstrual products such as sanitary napkins, tampons and menstrual cups in this contemporary world, 88% of Indian women still are not used to it.  These women rather prefer using old methods like cloth materials, old rags, muds, leaves and so on.

These ladies aren’t aware that not access to these products may lead them to face grievous health risks. This unawareness can be suppressed if it is discussed accordingly. But, discussing it is a taboo in our society as it is considered as unclean and dirty. This taboo is the major reason for the illiteracy and rawness on such an important topic. Due to this, every year, around 23 million girls decide to drop out of school.[1]

There is a need to edify and make them conscious of the environmental pollution that is attributable to inapposite ways of disposing of menstrual products and health hazards associated with them.

During the adolescence period, a girl experiences various physical, psychological and biological developments. This is an important period for them and requires heed. Menarche is the onset of the reproductive phase of her life. Unfortunately, lack of knowledge on menstrual hygiene and shame and embarrassment, makes the situation dreadful.

Women have unfolded their strategies to manipulate this period. Globally, these strategies diversify due to individual preferences, accessibility to resources, socio-economic position, customs traditions and beliefs, educational status and erudition about menstruation. Practices associated with menstruation hygiene are of deep concern as it has a health impact; if untended, it leads to diseases such as toxic shock syndrome, reproductive tract infections (RTI) and other vaginal diseases. Poor genital hygienic negatively affects adolescents’ health.[2]

Menstrual beliefs refer to misapprehension and perception towards menstruation within a given culture or religion. These societal norms were the hindrance in the path of good menstrual hygiene practices. Many women enduredconstraints on cooking, work,laving, venerating and eating. It was also conjectured that menstrual fluids may be used for witchcraft, so women should lave the cloth wore during menses only at night when others were slumbering. From all these beliefs, it was intelligible that education plays a critical role in menstrual hygiene management. By educating people about menstruation, we can vanquish these erroneous beliefs and taboos.

The choice of products varies between rural and urban women. Some products are:

  • Reusable cloths pads: Since they are reusable, they are cost-effective, easily available and eco-friendly. They should be stored in a clean dry place to avoid contamination.
  • Sanitary pads: They are easily available in the market. They are non-reusable and not eco-friendly.
  • Tampons: These products provide internal protection. They are expensive and not easily degradable in natures.
  • Menstrual cups: A reusable and eco-friendly product. They can be worn up to 6-12 hours depending on the flow and needs to be removed and emptied less frequently.

Proper disposal of used menstrual products is still lacking in many countries of the world. Toilet facilities in India need more bins for the disposal of sanitary pads and handwashing facilities for menstruating women to manage menstrual hygiene. In schools owing to deficiency of sanitary facilities, girls throw their pads in toilets. [3]

People living by the side of river banks throw menstrual waste into water bodies which pollute them. These materials become breeding places for germs and pathogenic microbes. This exposes the workers to noxious chemicals and pathogens.

 One of the main reasons why menstruation is a taboo and menstruation hygiene is ignored is a gender imbalance. Due to societal norms and blot, menstruating women are not permitted to use water and sanitation facilities. Hence, compendious programs that engage both men and women should be conducted to comprehend menstrual hygiene. Men can encourage and guide women in managing menstruation at various places like home, office and community by portraying roles as husbands, students, teachers, colleagues, leaders and policymakers. [4]

Most men are unaware of the menstruation and physiological changes in women during menstruation and menstrual cycle. Due to reluctance, folklore, preconceptions and misunderstandings, it is difficult to discuss menstruation with men. In India, a man named “Arunachalam Muruganatham” known as “India’s Menstrual Man” developed an economical and environmentally safe machine which produces semi-biodegradable sanitary pads.

In schools, teachers can create a women-friendly environment to handle menstruation with dignity. Sex health education should also be promoted in schools by teachers.

Strategies

There is a necessity for efficacious menstrual materials which requires less and cost-effective management. Non-polluting chemicals should be used by manufacturers of sanitary products to halt soil and water pollution and to fasten the decomposition process.

Trash bins should be covered by a lid and emptied from time to time keep the toilets clean from flies, mosquitoes and bad aroma. Incinerators are a preferable option for disposal but should be operated in a guarded environment so that hazardous gases released will not harm the larger area.[5]

Conclusion

Menstrual hygiene should be encouraged by contriving a program on menstruation and menstrual hygiene management. Nowadays, social media can also be used to promote awareness about latest menstrual products and polices amongst women. NGO’s should step forward to educate rural people about menstrual hygiene and products. Women should be well informed of the consequences of disposing of used menstrual products in open or in toilets. Also, ignorance, misunderstandings, perilous practices and unawareness regarding menstruation are the root causes of several issues. So, there is an exigency to embolden adolescents at school to practice prudent and hygienic demeanours.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • What is menarche?
  • Who is India’s, menstrual man?
  • Name some menstrual products.
  • What is the importance of menstrual products?
  • What are some strategies for good menstrual hygiene?

References

[1]https://feminisminindia.com/2020/04/09/covid-19-lockdown-sanitary-products-not-deemed-essential/

[2]https://thewire.in/women/coronavirus-menstruation-sanitary-pads

[3]https://www.unfpa.org/news/nine-things-you-need-know-about-periods-and-pandemic

[4]https://www.athenaempowers.com/blogs/blog/10-reasons-why-menstrual-hygiene-management-important

[5]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2784630/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *