Society - - SOCIETY SAYS SO - Dr Siree­sha Reddy (MBBS, MD OBG, MRCOG, CCT: RCOG) Moth­er­hood Hos­pi­tals, Heb­bal, Ban­ga­lore

THe dis­cus­sion sur­round­ing men­stru­a­tion hasn’t re­ceived the at­ten­tion it re­quires. In fact, men­stru­a­tion and the is­sues sur­round­ing the topic have been deeply stig­ma­tised and clos­eted in our so­ci­ety. In many com­mu­ni­ties, the deep rooted stigma sur­round­ing men­stru­a­tion has led to the os­traci­sa­tion of women from their fam­i­lies dur­ing their monthly cy­cle, cut­ting off ac­cess to proper san­i­ta­tion and hy­gienic en­vi­ron­ments which in turn makes these women vul­ner­a­ble to var­i­ous health con­di­tions. It is im­por­tant to fight the stigma sur­round­ing a con­di­tion that is nat­u­ral to women, and the best way to do this is to talk about these is­sues openly, build­ing aware­ness about the same. A reg­u­lar men­strual cy­cle is an in­di­ca­tion of good re­pro­duc­tive health. It is im­por­tant for women to ed­u­cate them­selves about men­stru­a­tion and men­strual hy­giene to en­sure that their monthly cy­cles don’t in­ter­fere with their reg­u­lar life and rou­tine, thereby min­imis­ing the risk of in­fec­tions and fur­ther com­pli­ca­tions. The fol­low­ing list con­tains an­swers to the most com­mon ques­tions sur­round­ing men­stru­a­tion and men­strual hy­giene:

How of­ten do I cHange my san­I­tary nap­kIns/ tam­pons?

When men­strual blood is ab­sorbed in san­i­tary nap­kins and tam­pons, they be­come a breed­ing ground for bac­te­ria. Not chang­ing these prod­ucts reg­u­larly would run the risk of in­fec­tions and rashes. It is im­por­tant to change san­i­tary nap­kins and tam­pons every four to six hours to en­sure proper men­strual hy­giene.

wHat’s tHe deal wItH men­strual cups?

Of late, there has been a lot of talk about the use of men­strual cups as an eco­nom­i­cal, en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly and sus­tain­able al­ter­na­tive to the use of pads and tam­pons. A men­strual cup is a small bell-shaped prod­uct that is worn in the vagi­nal canal. In­stead of ab­sorp­tion, it col­lects men­strual blood which can then be dis­posed of san­i­tar­ily. Men­strual cups are re­us­able and come in var­i­ous shapes, sizes and ma­te­ri­als. Fi­nally, men­strual cups prove to be a con­ve­nient op­tion for women as these prod­ucts do not need to be changed as of­ten as pads and tam­pons and can be used for twelve hours at a time.

How do I maIn­taIn Hy­gIene dur­Ing my montHly cy­cle?

Clean­li­ness dur­ing men­stru­a­tion is of ut­most im­por­tance to avoid in­fec­tions. It is im­por­tant to dis­pose off the tam­pons and pads in dust­bins, care­fully af­ter wrap­ping. It is also im­por­tant to wash the vagi­nal area reg­u­larly to avoid crust­ing of blood and to wash away ex­cess blood. This also helps in man­ag­ing pe­riod odour.

are tHere any dI­etary cHanges I sHould take Into con­sId­er­a­tIon dur­Ing men­stru­a­tIon?

Fol­low­ing a good diet is im­por­tant to re­duce dis­com­fort, pain and bloat­ing dur­ing pe­ri­ods. Maintaining a diet that in­cludes green leafy veg­eta­bles which are rich in iron and vi­ta­mins is nec­es­sary. Con­sum­ing nuts, which are rich in Omega-3 and fatty acids can help con­trol pre­men­strual syn­drome symp­toms. Eat­ing sal­ads, fruit and whole grains help con­trol di­ges­tive prob­lems which are com­mon dur­ing pe­ri­ods. It is ad­vised to avoid fried food, car­bon­ated drinks and pro­cessed foods that are high in sodium to keep bloat­ing and pain in check.

can I vIsIt a gy­nae­col­o­gIst for Is­sues sur­round­Ing men­stru­a­tIon? If so, How of­ten sHould I con­sIder vIs­It­Ing one?

It is nec­es­sary to sched­ule reg­u­lar vis­its to the gy­nae­col­o­gist to learn how to care for your re­pro­duc­tive health as well as make sure there is no in­fec­tion. The doc­tor will talk to you about your body and help you un­der­stand what is nor­mal and what is not. Get­ting a Pap smear test done once in three years is im­por­tant to pre­vent cer­vi­cal can­cer. You should also get your breasts screened reg­u­larly at least once in a year with your doctors. Women and girls with ir­reg­u­lar pe­ri­ods and con­di­tions like Fi­broids or Poly­cys­tic Ovar­ian Dis­or­der need to see the doc­tor more of­ten to treat these con­di­tions and en­sure good fer­til­ity lev­els.

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