Menstruation is a normal blood flow or bleeding in adolescent girls and young women. In menstruating, there is vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of a woman’s monthly cycle. Menstrual hygiene refers to the use of a clean material to absorb or collect blood. The material must be changeable in private as often as necessary for the duration of the menstruation period. Menstrual hygiene also includes access to soap and water for washing the body as often as required. As well as having access to facilities to dispose of used menstrual materials.
Some challenges bring about poor menstrual hygiene. They include:
- Poor access to sanitary pads due to poverty or sociocultural beliefs.
- Lack of menstrual education and awareness.
- Use of non-absorbent materials.
- Lack of access to clean water.
- Lack of toilets with locks for privacy.
- Non-hygienic toilet areas.
There are various reasons why you should practice proper menstrual hygiene:
- It boosts self-confidence.
- It reduces the risk of urinary tract infections.
- It reduces the risk of reproductive tract infections.
- It ensures good reproductive health.
- It prevents odours from emanating from your body.
- It minimises the risk of cervical cancer.
To practice proper menstrual hygiene, you have to do some things. They include:
- Change your sanitary pads (disposable and reusable) or tampons every 4-6 hours to protect you from infection.
- Wear clean underwear.
- Do not use tissue paper in place of sanitary pads or tampons.
- Ensure you wash your hands before and after changing your pads or tampons.
- Clean yourself properly.
- Avoid using soaps to wash your vagina and avoid vagina douching.
- Discard your used tampons and sanitary pads properly.
The importance of menstrual hygiene cannot be over-emphasised. It is important to know how to care for yourself during your menstruation as it helps protect you from having infections or untoward smells. Menstrual hygiene can lead to a healthier and happier life.
Menstrual hygiene poverty affects millions of young girls and women in Nigeria. This results in missed school days, missed work, and loss of productivity. Agencies like UNICEF Nigeria are working to reduce this inequality by teaching girls how to make absorbent, reusable menstrual pads that last up to a year while providing support to organisations that give free menstrual pads to girls.
You can access the UNICEF 'No More Limits' training on Making Reusable Sanitary Pads when announced at your school or community. You can watch videos online on how to make a reusable pad. You can also reach out to organizations in your area by asking Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs) at your Healthcare Centre for more information.