Menstruation- A social taboo

INTRODUCTION

Menstruation is the natural part of the reproductive cycle in which blood from the uterus exits through the vagina. It is a natural process that first occurs in girls usually between the age of 11 and 14 years and is one of the indicators of the onset of puberty among them. Taboos surrounding menstruation exclude women and girls from many aspects of social and cultural life. Some of these are helpful, but others have potentially harmful implications.

MENSTRUAL SYMPTOMS

Not every woman will experience the same premenstrual symptoms. Common symptoms include breast swelling and tendernesstensionbloatingacne breakoutsleg, back, or stomach crampingpremenstrual syndromeSome women may confuse the symptoms of menstruation with those of early pregnancy, as they can be similar. These include a missed period, breast tenderness or swelling, nausea, frequent urination, and tiredness.

Premenstrual syndrome

Some women report feeling the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). This very common condition can include symptoms such as:rapid changes in moodinsomniadizzinessbloatingsocial withdrawaldifficulty concentratingbreast tendernesstirednessThese symptoms can vary in severity. Other symptoms may include joint or muscle pain, headaches, fluid retention, constipation, and diarrhea. PMS may be caused by changes in hormone or serotonin levels.

MENSTRUAL CYCLE PROBLEMS

Women may at times experience problems or irregularities in their menstrual cycle. Common problems include:

Amenorrhea: This refers to the absence of a menstrual cycle for at least 90 days. Contributing factors amenorrhea period include pregnancy, breastfeeding, eating disorders, excessive exercising, and stress.

Dysmenorrhea: This is sometimes severe menstrual pain. Possible causes include uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and excessive levels of a hormone called prostaglandin.

Abnormal uterine bleeding: This term includes any vaginal bleeding not considered normal for a menstrual period. This might include bleeding between periods or after sex, any vaginal spotting, unusually heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, and postmenopausal bleeding.In early pregnancy, some women will also experience what is referred to as implantation bleeding, as a result of the embryo attaching to the uterine wall. Implantation bleeding can be expected around 10 to 14 days after conception.Implantation bleeding occurs as light, brown spotting and not the typical bright, red flow of a menstrual period. Implantation bleeding is short-lived and, for most women, requires no treatment.

TIPS TO MAINTAIN MENSTRUAL HYGIENE

1.Change your pad every four hours

If you use sanitary pads to soak the flow during your periods, remember to change it often. Ideally, changing it every four hours is good. If not every day, do this on the first two days when the flow is heavier. On others too, don’t wear the same pad for more than eight hours.

2.Clean reusable pads properly

There are sanitary napkins that can be reused for several menstrual cycles. If you use one of these, ensure that you clean them thoroughly after every use so that there are no germs and there is no scope of infection. Follow the instructions given and don’t reuse them after the said number of uses.

3.Keep your vaginal area clean

It is important to keep your vaginal area clean especially during periods when there is blood flow from the body. Use warm water and diluted soap to wash the area. You can also use recommended vaginal washes available in the market to keep yourself clean. If, however, they irritate your skin or vagina, discontinue the use and speak to a doctor. The vagina also has a self-cleaning mechanism, so these washes aren’t really necessary for most women.

4.Never use two pads simultaneously

No, two is not better than one. Some women who experience heavy flow, tend to use two sanitary pads at one go to control the flow and prevent staining of clothes. This, however, is a bad idea as it can cause infections in the vaginal region. Stick to one and keep changing it often if the flow is more.

5.Wear comfortable, clean underwear

While changing your sanitary pad is essential, it is also important to wear something comfortable during these days. Tight thongs or underwear made of fabric that doesn’t allow your skin to breathe will also lead to infections. Stick to clean and comfortable cotton knickers that do not stick to your skin.

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