Hygiene during menstrual period

    • Brief

    • To absorb the blood during her menstrual period, a woman can use sanitary towels or tampons. She can also collect the blood with a menstrual cup. The tampon and menstrual cup are not contraceptives and they do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or HIV. If you have sexual intercourse and do not want to get pregnant or want to protect against infections, choose the contraceptive most suitable for you. You can also use tampons and menstrual cups if you use a hormonal IUD. Discuss this with your healthcare provider.

    • Sanitary towel

    • A sanitary towel is a small absorbent pad that women put in their pants during their menstrual period. There is adhesive tape on the bottom of the sanitary pad or towel. This keeps the sanitary towel in place. You can buy sanitary towels in different sizes, forms and thicknesses.

      You can also make a reusable sanitary pad, which is often cheaper than buying disposable sanitary pads. It is best to wash reusable sanitary pads every time after changing them to keep them clean and hygienic for you. You can learn about making a reusable sanitary pad from this Actionaid website.

      Changed sanitary towels every few hours.

      A sanitary towel may limit some of your activities. For instance, you can not swim or shower while wearing it. It can also limit your ability to exercise if it feels uncomfortable.

    • Tampon

    • A tampon is a small stick made of cotton wool with a string attached to it. You insert the small stick into the vagina. The string hangs outside of the vagina. You can buy tampons in different sizes.

      Change a tampon every few hours. Do not leave tampons in for long periods, like an entire day or more, as this can cause infections. To remove a tampon, pull the string carefully. A tampon cannot cause the hymen to tear. When you are using a tampon, you can go in the shower, swim and exercise.

    • Menstrual cup

    • You can also use a menstrual cup instead of a sanitary pad, towel or tampons. A menstrual cup is made from a soft material (silicone). You put the cup up inside the vagina. The cup collects the blood.

      The cup comes in various sizes. The size of the cup depends on how much blood you lose and whether you have given birth or not.

      You insert the cup in the same way as a tampon:

      • Wash your hands.
      • Fold the cup along its length.
      • Spread the labia to insert the cup.
      • Insert the cup folded into the vagina.
      • Hold the cup pressed together, with the hollow side of the cup facing upwards.
      • Insert the menstrual cup deep into the vagina.
      • Release the menstrual cup.
      • It will open in the vagina.
      • If the cup does not open, turn it a bit to make sure the cup is fully inside the vagina.

      Clean the cup at least two times a day (at least every 12 hours):

      • Pinch the lower side of the rim and pull the cup upwards and out of the vagina.
      • Throw the contents into the toilet. Rinse the cup with water. Then insert the cup again.

      You can reuse the cup:

      • If your menstrual period has finished, clean the cup in boiling water. You can add a little salt or vinegar for extra cleaning.
      • Then store the menstrual cup in a clean, dry place. If possible, use the supplied bag.

      You can also use the cup at night. A menstrual cup cannot cause the hymen to tear. You can go in the shower, swim and exercise with the menstrual cup. The choice between tampons, sanitary towels or the menstrual cup is solely up to you.

    • Buying sanitary towels, tampons and the menstrual cup

    • You can make your sanitary pad at home, using materials that you can find in the house. However, you can buy sanitary towels, tampons and menstrual cups in supermarkets, pharmacies, and online. Prices differ widely.

      You can use one menstrual cup for between 5 and 10 years. That is why the cup is cheaper than tampons and sanitary towels. You can buy various brands of menstrual cups; a menstrual cup costs between 3,000- 5,000 NGN.

    • Pain

    • For some women, the menstrual period is painful. You can relieve the pain in the belly or back (uterus) by relaxing. You can, for example:

      • Take a hot bath or shower.
      • Place a hot pillow or a hot water bottle on your belly or back.
      • Drink relaxing tea (for example chamomile tea).
      • Do sports or relaxation exercises like yoga.
      • Ask for the right medicines at a pharmacy.

    • Sexual intercourse

    • Some women want to have sexual intercourse during their menstrual period, and others do not. A woman can have sexual intercourse during her menstrual period if she wants to. It will not lead to hygiene problems.