Learning the basics of menstrual hygiene helps to ensure that you and the women in your life are fully informed about the right way to stay healthy and avoid infection during menstruation.
Menstruation is a time of heightened risk of infection for women, including sexually transmitted infections. This increased risk of infection occurs because the mucus that usually blocks your cervix opens during menstruation to allow blood to pass out of the body. This makes it possible for bacteria to travel up into your uterus and pelvic cavity. Changes in vaginal pH also make yeast infections more likely.
It is essential that each woman understand the best practices for period hygiene along with the actions and situations that put them at risk in order to maintain a healthy menstrual routine.
1.Wash the Right Way: Because your vagina is more sensitive than other parts of your body, it requires a different kind of wash. Always wash your vagina externally and never use normal soap, douches or shampoo on your intimate area, which can upset your natural flora and acidity. Opt for a wash specially formulated for intimate use or just use your hand and warm water.
2.Consider Your Wardrobe: Avoid tight clothing or fabrics that don’t breathe. Wearing clothing close to your vagina can cause increased moisture and heat and also irritate your skin. Wear cotton underwear and loose fitting clothing to stay fresh and dry.
3.Change Pads and Tampons Often: Continual use of the same sanitary pad or tampon increases your risk of infection and toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Prolonged exposure to damp sanitary pads can also irritate your skin, which can eventually become broken and risk infection.
4.Wipe from Front to Back: When you wipe from back to front you risk exposing your vagina to harmful anal bacteria that can cause infections such as urinary tract infections and yeast infections. Always wipe front to back and try to keep your vaginal and anal wiping separate.
5.Practice Safe Sex: During menstruation, women face an added risk of passing on or contracting blood-borne diseases, such as HIV or Hepatitis B, through unprotected sex. This heightened risk results from the higher concentrations of HIV and Hepatitis B found in blood, as opposed to the comparatively lower concentrations in other body fluids such as semen and vaginal secretions.
There are many factors to consider when identifying the best product for your body and lifestyle: Physical activity level, Cost sustainability – Reusable or disposable, Ease of use time efficiency – How long can you wear the product before it needs to be replaced or cleaned?
1.Tampons and Pads – Love them or hate them, we’re all familiar with them. Pads, followed closely by tampons, are the most frequently chosen period product for maintaining menstrual hygiene. Pads and tampons are made with a combination of absorbent fibers, both natural and synthetic, including cotton and rayon. Pads are adhesive and rest on the inside of your underwear to absorb your flow. No matter the volume of your flow, you should change pads at least every 3 to 4 hours to avoid odor from bacteria growth. Voila! Tampons can get a little trickier. First things first: insertion. Like many period products, tampons require internal insertion, which can be uncomfortable for some users. Tampons, like pads, are made from highly absorbent materials including rayon and cotton. Unlike pads, tampons rest inside the vaginal canal, so they don’t discriminate when it comes to the fluids they absorb. In addition to your menstrual flow, tampons absorb the vagina’s natural lubricant and bacteria. Introducing a foreign object into the vagina may disrupt its natural pH balance, causing irritation or discomfort.
2.Menstrual Cups – Although menstrual cups have been on the market since the 1960’s (in the form of an aluminum cup, ouch!), menstrual cups are having a moment. Menstrual cups are made from medical-grade silicone, so they do not dry out the vagina’s natural moisture as a tampon would. Insertion is where many individuals tend to shy away from the cup. To insert the cup, fold it in half like a taco and pinch it between your fingers. Maintaining the pinch, insert the cup into your vagina, and release. The cup uses suction to create a seal between the rim and the vaginal canal, so manufacturers recommend rotating the cup 360 degrees upon insertion to ensure the seal is intact. To remove the cup, break the seal by pinching it before removing.
3.Period-Proof Underwear – Period-proof underwear is made with multiple layers of microfiber polyester designed to wick moisture away from the skin and to keep moisture from leaking onto your clothes. Unlike many varieties of fabric, microfiber polyester is comprised of thousands of tiny filaments which act as a maze for liquid to meander through at a glacial pace. The outer layer of period-proof underwear is made from nylon and lycra and topped off with a liquid-repellant film to further prevent leakage.
Diet and exercise bring a range of health benefits as well as improving your experience of having periods.
Studies have found that women who exercise regularly are less likely to suffer menstrual pain, cramps and mood disturbance. We are not certain why exercise is helpful for PMS but studies demonstrate that exercise can release ‘happy’ hormones such as serotonin and endorphins, which may explain the benefit.
A growing body of evidence suggests diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, calcium and vitamin D, and low in animal fats, salt and caffeine may reduce the risk of troublesome PMS symptoms. Avoiding salt can help reduce fluid retention, abdominal bloating, breast swelling and pain. High caffeine intake can cause irritability, poor sleep and menstrual cramps.
A healthy diet is high in vegetables (five serves daily), fruit (two serves per day), nuts, seeds, fish (up to three servings per week) and other sources of omega-3 foods such as flax or chia seeds, low-fat dairy food, proteins such as legumes and eggs, and a variety of wholegrains such as rice (brown, basmati, doongara), traditional rolled oats, buckwheat flour, wholegrain breads (rye, essene, spelt, kamut), wholemeal pasta, couscous, millet or amaranth.
Lean meat (red meat or chicken) is an important source of iron and protein, especially for women with heavy periods. Avoid saturated fats such as butter, cream, bacon and potato chips; limit salt and caffeine. Drink more water and herbal teas such as chamomile.
Increase your intake of calcium-rich foods such as nuts, low-fat dairy products, fish with bones such as salmon and sardines, tofu, broccoli and bok choy.
Regular periods are a sign that your body is working normally. You should have regular periods unless you are pregnant, breastfeeding, postmenopausal, or have a medical condition that causes your periods to stop. Irregular, painful, or heavy periods may be signs of a serious health problem. Irregular periods also can make it harder to get pregnant. Your doctor can work with you to help get your periods more regular.