Dr. Umme Bilkis Ahmed
It is an annual awareness day on May 28 to highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management worldwide.
The significance of this awareness is to break the taboos surrounding menstruation and to raise awareness of the importance of good menstrual hygiene management.
Why on 28th May?
May is the 5th month of the year and the average length of menstruation is 5 days every month. Also the menstrual cycle average is 28 days, hence menstrual hygiene Day is observed on the 28th day of the month of May every year.
It was initiated by German-based NGO WASH United in 2014.
What is Menstruation?
Menstruation is the visible cyclic process in which the uterus sheds blood and tissue through vagina following invisible interplay of hormones mainly through hypothalamo-pituitary-ovarian axis. This is a natural healthy process for girls and women of reproductive age. This is as normal as breathing.
The duration of menstruation is about 4 to 5 days and the amount of blood loss is estimated to be 20-80 ml with an average of 35 ml. Nearly 70% of total menstrual blood loss occurs in the first two days.
Once the menstruation starts, it continues cyclically at intervals of (21 to 35) days with a mean of 28 days.
The first menstruation (menarche) occurs between 11 to 15 years of age with a mean of 13 years. It is more closely related to bone age than to chronological age. For the past couple of decades, the age of menarche has been gradually declining with the improvement of nutrition and environmental conditions. Ultimately it ceases between the age 45 to 50 when menopause sets in.
Menstruation- a human right
Human rights are moral principles or norms for certain standards of human behaviour. Human rights are the rights inherent to all human beings regardless the race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion or any other status. Menstruation is intrinsically related to human dignity. Gender inequality, extreme poverty, humanitarian crisis and harmful traditions can all turn menstruation into a time of deprivation and stigma which can undermine their enjoyment of fundamental human rights. This is also applicable for transgender individuals who menstruate.
It’s a matter of deprivation from basic human rights like “the right to health”, “the right to education”, “the right to work”, “the right to non-discrimination and gender equality”, “the right to water and sanitation” during menstruation.
In many places around the world, menarche is believe to be an indication that girls are ready for marriage or sexual activity. This leaves girls vulnerable to a host of abuses, including child marriage and sexual violence.
In the last few years, however, menstrual health and hygiene management have become topics of conversation among girls’ advocates, education experts, humanitarian professionals, human rights and global development specialists.
Only less than 18 percent of Indian women use sanitary pads.
The latest National Family and Health Survey found that 58 per cent of young Indian women (15-24 years) use a hygienic method of protection (mostly sanitary pads), a significant increase from the 12 percent using pads in 2010.
More than 77 percent of menstruating girls and women in India use an old cloth, which is often reused, dried leaves and husk sand during periods.
Theme of this year
“To create a world where no women or girls is held back because they menstruate,by 2030” is the theme of the World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2022.
This means a world where every girl or woman is empowered to manage her menstruation safely, hygienically, with confidence and without shame.
The 2022 campaign will use the #WeAreCommitted hashtag to create awareness globally regarding menstrual hygiene.
The vision is to create a world where-
- Everyone has the access to and can afford the menstrual product of their choice.
- Period stigma and social discrimination is history.
- Everyone has basic information about menstruation, including men and boys.
- Everyone can access period-friendly water, sanitation and hygiene facilities anywhere in the world.
In 2018, after months of campaigning the tax on the sanitary pads in India was removed, which was set at 12% under the Goods and Services Act.
Poor menstrual hygiene management can have a significant negative influence on both physical and mental health. Here are a few things to remember during the menstrual cycle to keep menstrual hygiene in good shape.
- Changing the sanitary pad/tampon every 4 to 6 hourly.
- Cleaning the vaginal area thoroughly at least twice daily. Don’t over wash or over use the vaginal wash products which may alter the vaginal pH balance making you more vulnerable to yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.
- Keep a record of your menstruation.
- Do not use scented products.
- Proper disposal of used sanitary products. Wrap properly before discarding the used sanitary pad to ensure the smell and infection are contained. Do not flush the pad or tampon in the toilet since they’re capable of forming a block. Wash your hands after changing sanitary pads.
- Wear light weight, breathable undergarments.
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