WHAT IS MENSTRUATION AND DO I HAVE TO ACT DIFFERENTLY WHEN I HAVE IT?
Around once a month a woman experiences her menstruation cycle, or period, where her body removes the old layer in her womb where a baby can grow, creating a new one. While the body is removing this lining, blood comes out from your vagina. For women and girls who live in certain areas with little clean water or access to sanitary products, this can become their most dreaded time of the month.
You may feel that because of your bleeding you have to miss school or work, not talk to men, not touch food, sit in a dark room or pretend it isn’t happening due to the stigma and myths surrounding your period, but this is not true. Almost every woman, everywhere in the world has a period, and it is a very natural and normal process. Never feel ashamed of your period. By being proud of your period and embracing it you can make sure you have better access to things that will make your time of the month healthier and happier.
WHAT ARE SANITARY PRODUCTS?
Sanitary products are items you can use to help keep clean and prevent the flow of blood from disrupting your day. Examples include:
- Sanitary towels: These are placed in the line of your underwear and absorb the blood as it comes out. Needs to be changed every 4-8 hours.
- Tampons: These are cotton tubes that are inserted into the vagina and absorb the blood before it comes out the vagina. Needs to be changed every 4-5 hours.
- Moon Cup: This is a small, rubber cup that is inserted into the vagina and collects the drops of blood. Needs to be changed every 8 hours.
WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE SANITARY PRODUCTS?
Please never use cut up mattresses, newspapers, dirty rags, twigs, mud or leaves to absorb your period. This is really dangerous as it can often lead to high levels of infection and will make you poorly, but is also very uncomfortable and not very successful at preventing leaks.
If you are based in East Africa, Femme International is an organisation that can provide you with a kit with all the supplies you need, such as a re-useable menstrual or moon cup or re-useable pads, a bowl for washing the re-useable cup, a small towel, a bar of soap and a handheld mirror.
If you do not have access to these products then you can use a clean cloth, or ripped up item of clothing, and place between your legs. But if you do use these please make sure to keep them as clean as possible, by washing them regularly.
HOW ELSE CAN I KEEP CLEAN DURING MY PERIOD?
Periods are messy and it can be difficult to keep clean during this time. Make sure to clean the area around your genitals and in between your legs using clean water to remove the blood, and drying with a clean cloth after.
But you don’t need to worry if you do not have soap, as your vagina has its own way of staying clean, so you never need to clean the inside of your vagina, just the external part of your genitals.