How to manage menstrual hygiene

Menstruation, or periods, are a monthly cycle that females start to experience between the ages of 10 and 15 until they are in their 40s or 50s. Every woman gets periods and they are a healthy and normal occurrence. If women didn’t have periods, they couldn’t have babies. Every girl and every woman has the right to deal with her periods safely and with dignity. No woman should feel ashamed for having her period.

HOW TO KEEP YOURSELF HEALTHY DURING YOUR PERIOD

When you first get your period, you should talk to other girls and women, such as your mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, female friend, an older woman in your community or a female teacher. Seeing blood in your underwear can be scary, but it is normal and natural. You can feel proud that your body is developing into that of a young woman.

To capture the blood, place a cloth, pad, cotton or tissue into your underwear. Change this every two to six hours or more often if the blood flow is getting heavy. Some women have more heavy blood flows than others, a lot of variation is normal.

To dispose of the cloth you are using, wrap it in paper and put it in a bin. If there is no other option, drop it straight into the latrine pit. If it is a reusable pad, put it in a plastic bag until you can wash it. Wash it with hot water and soap and then dry it in the sunshine or iron it. It is important to let your pad dry fully between uses to avoid mould.

To keep yourself clean, wash your genitals with clean water every day. Pat yourself dry with a clean cloth after. Don’t force water into your vagina to clean it.

THINGS YOU SHOULD AVOID DOING DURING YOUR PERIOD

There are some things women should avoid doing during their periods because they can have a negative effect on their health. One of these is to use materials that are not clean to soak up the blood flow. This can lead to infections. If these materials are inserted into the vagina, an infection becomes even more likely. Pads should be changed every couple of hours because wet pads can irritate the skin and irritated skin can become infected more easily. You should also always wipe from front to back after peeing or defecating, during your period and at any other time. If you wipe back to front, some of the bacteria from your bowel can get into your vagina. You should also always wash your hands after changing a sanitary towel.

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