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Discrimination against menstruating women is widespread in India, where periods have long been a taboo and considered impure.
Menstruation and Menstrual Hygiene
Menstruation is a bodily function which is natural and important for women’s health and reproduction
What is menstruation?
Menstruation is also called as menses and is a word derived from the Latin language which means monthly. Monthly bleeding from the genital tract is called as menstruation. This bleeding comes from the womb which is situated in the lower part of the woman’s body.
Girls start menstruating at the average age of 12
Why do we have to have menstruation?
What symptoms may indicate a need to contact my doctor about my period?
Ovulation
This phase occurs roughly at about day 14 in a 28-day menstrual cycle. A sudden increase in another hormone—luteinizing hormone—causes the ovary to release its egg. This event is called ovulation.
Girls start menstruating at the average age of 12
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Why India must battle the shame of period stain

  What is menstruation? 

Women are fertile, which means they have the ability to bear children. Menarche marks the beginning of the change from girlhood to womanhood, as her sexual characteristics develop. Throughout this transition, called the adolescence or ‘teenage years’ there is gradual maturation of the hormonal system, emotional and psychological make up and physical appearance. The formation of breasts, the growth of body hair and menstruation. 

What are the features of normal menstruation?

Menarche ensues by 13 -15 years of age. Bleeding is cyclical with the duration of cycles between 22-32 days and bleeding phase of 3-7 days. There is minimal discomfort and sometimes the menstruation may be without any pain. The bleeding is more on the first 2-3 days and gradually reduces and stops and is self-limiting.

What if I have variations form what has been mentioned above?

Excessive bleeding, irregular cycles, painful periods or no periods needs to be consulted for as can have an underlying cause which may need some therapy.

Why do we have to have menstruation?

One of the important functions of a woman’s body is to bear children. Menarche marks the beginning of this changeover from girlhood to womanhood. Throughout this transition which is called as the adolescence or ‘teens’ there is gradual maturation of the hormonal system, emotional and psychological make up and physical capability needed for child bearing and rearing

India scrapped a 12% tax on sanitary products in 2018 after months of campaigning by activists.

Campaigners had argued that menstrual hygiene products were not a luxury and periods were not a choice that a woman could simply opt out of.

How do I manage my menstruation?

1.Menstrual hygiene 2.Personal hygiene 3.Nutrition and hydration 4.Pain management 5.Signs needing medical attention 6.Personal warnings

More about Pads and tampons

A woman attains menarche between 10 years - 15 years of age and reaches menopause by 45 to 50 years of age. Thus, she experiences approximately 420 menstrual periods in a lifetime and this needs a scientific and a practical approach. Many possibilities exist to aid menstrual hygiene viz; Sanitary pads: disposable or reusable cotton ones, menstrual cups, diapers.

Why do we have to have menstruation?

One of the important functions of a woman’s body is to bear children. Menarche marks the beginning of this changeover from girlhood to womanhood. Throughout this transition which is called as the adolescence or ‘teens’ there is gradual maturation of the hormonal system, emotional and psychological make up and physical capability needed for child bearing and rearing

What happens during menstruation?

Normally, a woman’s first period or ‘menarche’ occurs by 13 -15 years of age. Bleeding happens in cycles, almost every month with a gap of 22-32 days, with period bleeding lasting from between 3-7 days. Discomfort may include cramps, and fatigue, but isn’t very painful. The first 2-3 days since bleeding begins are usually with the heaviest flow, which gradually reduces and stops.

What if my periods aren’t normal?

Excessive bleeding, irregular cycles, painful periods or no periods needs to be consulted for as can have an underlying cause which may need some therapy.

What is a normal menstrual cycle?

The menstrual cycle is a term used to describe the sequence of events that occur within a woman’s body as it prepares for the possibility of pregnancy each month. A menstrual cycle is considered to begin on the first day of a period. The average cycle is 28 days long; however, a cycle can range in length from 21 days to about 35 days.The steps in the menstrual cycle are triggered by the rise and  fall of chemicals in the body called hormones. The pituitary gland in the brain and the ovaries in the female reproductive tract manufacture and release certain hormones at certain times during the menstrual cycle that cause the organs of the reproductive tract to respond in certain ways. The specific events that occur during the menstrual cycle can be described as follows:

  • The menses phase: This phase, which typically lasts from day one to day five, is the time when the lining of the uterus is actually shed out through the vagina if pregnancy has not occurred. Most women bleed for three to five days, but a period lasting only two days to as many as seven days is still considered normal.
  • The follicular phase: This phase typically takes place from days six to 14. During this time, the level of the hormone estrogen rises, which causes the lining of the uterus (called the endometrium) to grow and thicken. In addition, another hormone—follicle-stimulating hormone—causes follicles in the ovaries to grow. During days 10 to 14, one of the developing follicles will form a fully mature egg (ovum).
  • Ovulation: This phase occurs roughly at about day 14 in a 28-day menstrual cycle. A sudden increase in another hormone—luteinizing hormone—causes the ovary to release its egg. This event is called ovulation.
  • The luteal phase: This phase lasts from about day 15 to day 28. After the egg is released from the ovary it begins to travel through the fallopian tubes to the uterus. The level of the hormone progesterone rises to help prepare the uterine lining for pregnancy. If the egg becomes fertilized by a sperm and attaches itself to the uterine wall, the woman becomes pregnant. If pregnancy does not occur, estrogen and progesterone levels drop and the thickened lining of the uterus is shed during the menstrual period.

How do I manage my menstruation?

 

  1. Menstrual hygiene: the blood that flows out of one’s body during this phase needs to be managed so that it does not soil one’s clothes and surroundings and the privacy of menses is maintained. Traditionally cotton clean cloth were the norm and today over the time this has been identified as the best approach towards menstrual management. These are cheap, easy to manage and are biodegradable. These are easy to make. a semisoft cotton material can be bought, and two squares of 1.5 by 1.5 feet are made. one is folded into a rectangular pad and wound in the other fold like a roll which develop  long ends which can be used to tie to secure it to the string around the waist. Other option is to create a pad and place it in the snuggly fitting underwear.The cloth should be soft, absorbent and of cotton. It should be washed and clean. The cloth can be washed before the first use and dried in bright sunlight thoroughly before storing for use.

    The pad should be changed every 4-5 hours as longer keep pads can cause bacterial growth and infection in the very delicate genitalia. When changing the pad should be thoroughly rinsed and soaked in warm soaped water with bleach solution added. It is then scrubbed ad thoroughly washed. This is then dried thoroughly and stored in a closed ventilated space for further use. The cloth can eventually be discarded if torn or tattered by burning.

    There are commercially available synthetic pads which are convenient to use but are not amenable to biodegradation.

    Currently menstrual cups are proposed for this use and are being used. However, they can be expensive for some and unacceptable too as it has to inserted inside the vagina which an unmarried woman or an adolescent may find difficult to use.

    In any case utmost hygiene is necessary. One must wash hands every four hours and keep them clean. Touch your own body parts only with clean hands. Change the pad every 4-5 hours and also the menstrual cup should be emptied every 4-6 hours to avoid bacterial growth and infection.

  2. Personal hygiene. one should bathe daily at least ones preferably twice during menstruation to clean the private parts as well as the entire body as menstruation is associated with considerable sweating. Clean loose-fitting garments for easy ventilation should be used. Keep your hands, bowels and private parts clean and dry.
  3. Healthy and nutritious diet to compensate for the blood loss is essential. Also, pelvic congestion during menses can cause constipation which can be relieved by taking fiber rich diet. Women and girls of all ages should consume calcium and protein rich diet to help compensate for the wear and tear of the body. It is important to take plenty of fluids especially during this particular period to avoid dehydration as sweating can cause this
  4. Pain management: mild analgesics can be taken to combat pain. Light walks are known to relive pelvic water logging and helps relieve pain. Unbearable pain needs to be treated and one has to consult a doctor
  5. Signs needing medical attention: 1. No menses till age of 16. 2. No menses for more than 2 months 3. In case one has had unprotected sexual contact. 3. Excessive bleeding is marked by clots or clumps and heavy flow needing more than 5 pads per day and lasting for longer duration .4. less bleeding which less than 3 days is and is scarce 5. Painful menses 6. Any premenstrual emotional disturbances, breast pain etc.
  6. Personal warning: menstruation means that one has become capable of becoming pregnant if exposed to sexual intercourse. One has to be aware of all the facts and also know how to manage menstruation and indulge into any practices with open eyes. Always consult a doctor or a family member in case things are not right.