Menstruation hygiene is the most important yet one of the least discussed topics on mainstream platforms. It is the need of the hour that we provide a safe space for social discussions and equitable access to sexual health-related education. In India, there has been a conspicuous silence around adolescent sexual health and hygiene. Talking about sex and periods is considered taboo. The prevalence of taboos around periods and menstrual hygiene in social set-ups is a key reason which prevents adolescents from seeking guidance or medical attention because they fear judgement and ostracism. In the wake to breaking this stereotype and taking a small step towards providing a safe space for women to talk about menstruation health and hygiene we had a conversation with Sujata Pawar, the founder and CEO of Avni- startup focused on holistic menstrual care.
Menstruation hygiene matters. The silence around it can be damaging for adolescent girls. How can we as individuals end the silence?
Studies have shown that 71% of girls are not aware of menstruation, until their first period. In many parts of the world, women are subjected to isolation, which makes them unaware of the ideal way of dealing with this. This lack of awareness and isolation has resulted in girls’ dismissal from schools. This discrimination is the primary thing that has to be resolved and it can happen only when society stops considering this concept as impure or a taboo.
As individuals, we should take the first step to discuss openly with our friends, family, daughters, sons. Menstrual education amongst pre-teens and teenagers should be made a priority. Parents should make conscious efforts to speak to their sons and daughter about Periods. Such kind of an inclusive and supportive environment will increase the positivity around the topic and put an end to the prevalent taboos
What’s the best advice on maintaining menstrual hygiene?
Menstruation is a common phenomenon. Alas! It has been made into a hush-hush topic over the years. Due to this, people avoid talking about it which eventually leads to a lack of awareness in society. The first advice to maintain menstrual hygiene is to talk about it and avail the right information. Discussing the same, with all the individuals of the society-brothers, sisters, mother and father to reduce the stigma and make them understand the basic challenges of this aspect can enable a lot of change in the mindset.
What is the best option: Sanitary pads, tampons, menstrual cups, or period panties?
Each of these products is safe to use and has its own pros and cons. What is most important is to choose a product that is made of skin-safe materials, is breathable and needs to be changed frequently and which suits your lifestyle. The best is to choose a good quality product that is tested on essential parameters. Sanitary pads are a widely used product due to easy access and affordability. New age reusable cloth pads can emerge as a good option as they are skin-friendly, cost-effective and accessible
Are menstrual cups safe?
Menstrual cups are probably the most cost-effective and safe menstrual hygiene product. They can benefit for over 7 years, and be used innumerable times. It ideally needs to be folded in half and inserted in C-shape. Its basic component is medical-grade silicone which is completely safe, and leaves no harmful residues. In fact, for those who have skin problems, menstrual cups make for a good choice.
The cups must be washed off at least twice a day when in use. It is not the most popular pick yet, and there are myths about this particular product. However, once women start using these, they find it the most convenient product for a smooth period.
How can women prevent themselves from vaginal infection?
- Poor management of menstrual hygiene on a daily basis can lead to fungal and bacterial infections of the vaginal tract.
- Not washing the anal and urethral region while using the washroom can lead to urinary tract infections.
- Periods is a time of fluctuating pH in the vaginal area which is a breeding ground for pathogens. It helps to choose a breathable period product like good quality cotton pads
- Often times women avoid using the public washrooms during travel and hold on for long hours. This practice is done on a regular basis can cause urinary tract infections