Menstrual Hygiene Day is celebrated on 28th May every year to spread awareness about the importance of practicing good menstrual hygiene. Menstruation is a healthy natural and biological process that every woman experiences. Our body has an excellent in-built protection mechanism and a woman is protected even during her menstrual cycle. However, women should pay particular attention to personal hygiene while they are menstruating.
Many a time we find it difficult to speak about intimate health-related issues. However, it is important to treat your gynaecologist as a confidant. Be rest assured that your doctor is here to empower you, at the same time to make sure you receive the right care and treatment. On the occasion of Menstrual Hygiene Day, Dr Sushma Tomar, Infertility Specialist and Endoscopic Surgeon, Fortis Hospital Kalyan, Mumbai, answers some common questions that most women have during periods.
Important questions about menstrual hygiene
Q 1. Is it safe to use menstrual hygiene products?
Dr Sushma Tomar: Washing your vagina using a vaginal hygiene product is a great idea on a normal day, but not during the days of your periods. Using vaginal hygiene products while on the period can kill good bacteria, making way for infections. You could instead clean the vaginal area using warm water, after use of the toilet, and after urination
Q 2. How often should you change a sanitary napkin?
Dr Sushma Tomar: One should change the sanitary napkin every 4-5 hours as this is the cardinal rule to establish vaginal hygiene. When menstrual blood is expelled, it attracts various organisms from our bodies, which causes irritation, rashes or urinary tract infection. So, changing the sanitary napkin at fixed intervals (depending upon the flow) curbs the growth of these organisms and prevents you from getting an infection.
Q 3. Is vaginal odour common during the menstrual period?
Dr Sushma Tomar: It is common to experience a slight vaginal odour during menstruation, however, if you notice any changes or foul smell to be lasting for a few days, you should contact your doctor immediately. Although this is an uncomfortable topic to discuss with your doctor, it is however important to bring this to their immediate notice, as this is a sign of bacterial growth. Your doctor will guide you with the treatment.
Q 4. Is it safe to use two sanitary methods at the same time?
Dr Sushma Tomar: Women are inclined to use tampons and sanitary napkins, or two sanitary napkins at the same time during heavy flow days, which is an efficient technique. While it may help you keep dry and avoid stained clothes, it can cause infections too. The combination of two techniques absorbs the blood making us unaware of the need to change our tampons or sanitary napkins. Without frequent change, the accumulated blood can cause an infection. So, it is wise to use one sanitary napkin or tampon and change it as frequently as you can during heavy flow.
Essential tips to help you maintain menstrual hygiene:
- Wash your genitals to ensure that the blood is effectively washed away. You will feel cleaner, and it will also protect your privates. Try to wash-up every time you change, or a minimum of 2-3 times a day.
- Carry spare napkins/tampons at all times, especially if you’re stepping out or have a heavy outdoor day planned. Don’t wait until you get home to change - that can be toxic
- Ensure that you store your sanitary products in a clean bag or pouch. Add wet wipes, tissue paper, and a hand sanitiser.
Do not be afraid or shy away from consulting your Gynecologist, it will help prevent the onset of other associated diseases, as well as help in beginning effective treatment processes. Importantly, practice good menstrual hygiene on days when you’re not on your period as well.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.