MENSTRUAL HYGIENE DAY
Lack of access to menstrual products can badly affect the health of women.
According to studies, about 88 per cent of Indian women and girls use alternatives to sanitary pads like cloth, rags, hay, sand or ash.
Dr Alok Deb, a gynecologist at Woodland Hospital, Shillong, informed The Observer: “Menstrual Hygiene is not much of a problem in urban areas. But females in rural areas suffer a great deal to access sanitary products. Girls who do not have easy access to sanitary pads use cloth, which can cause infection.”
“The use of tampons at a certain time was discouraged as people did not understand how to use them, causing infection, infertility and death. Parents and elder sisters are the best people to educate girls on menstrual health…,” the doctor added.
In India, there are 355 million menstruating women and girls, but millions lack access to menstrual hygiene.
Girls do not have consistent access to information about puberty and menstrual health. In India, 71% of females said they had no idea what menstruation was before their first period. Girls frequently seek knowledge and assistance from their mothers. Seventy per cent of mothers regard menstruation as “unclean”, according to Menstrual Health of India, a research paper.
C. Massar, a young adolescent from Shillong, said: “It is important to educate girls on menstrual health. You don’t want to be 11 years old, at school, wondering why you’re bleeding. I think menstrual products in India are decently priced. Having sanitary items for free would be ideal, though. However, as the saying goes, nothing good is free. So don’t compromise your health by using sub-par items.”
“It is important to educate girls on menstruation so that they will be able to have a comfortable period without skipping school…. For those with financial problems the government needs to provide free menstruation products. My parents do educate me regarding menstruation, but the school gives details regarding the topic,” said Judy Pohlong, a school-goer.
Another teenager, Liza Koch, said: “Educating a girl about menstruation before she has her first period is the best way to make sure she knows what will happen. She should be told why she should not be scared and can’t keep doing normal things.”
School bathrooms and public restrooms stock toilet paper, soap and paper towels, but do not have menstrual products. One in every 5 girls leaves school early, or misses school entirely, due to a lack of access to menstrual products.
Elizabeth Lalzarzo, another adolescent, said: “Inadequate menstrual hygiene can potentially have health consequences such as increased risk of reproductive and urinary tract infections, which can be very dangerous for a female.”
Because the menstrual cycle lasts an average of 28 days and women menstruate an average of five days every month, and May is the fifth month of the year, Menstrual Hygiene Day is observed on May 28. This year’s theme is “Action and Investment in Menstrual Hygiene and Health”.