Menstruation is a natural sign of health, not an 'incident' to be shamed!

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
Photo credit: CNS:
[हिंदी] UP State Health Department data shows that 28 lakh adolescent girls in UP miss school because of menstruation. Poor menstrual hygiene leads to infections, inflammations, menstrual cramps and vaginal discharges – which often pushes these girls into the trap of faith healers and quacks. Menstruation is a natural sign of health for a young girl or woman, and not an 'incident' for which we should feel shamed or scared or terrified!

"Surveys indicate that over 85% girls used old tattered clothes during menstruation. Also there are social taboos related to menstruation which are difficult to ignore such as: almost 50% of girls are not allowed in kitchen and there are religious taboos during menses. Another survey says that there is hardly any discussion about menstruation due to which 4 out of 5 girls are not prepared for it, while 3 out of 5 are scared. We need to break the culture of silence around menstruation and discuss it openly with trusted guardians so that young girls and women can get accurate and timely information about a natural and healthy process in their own bodies" said Rahul Dwivedi of Vote For Health campaign of Asha Parivar.

Dr Amita Pandey, Professor in Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, King George's Medical University (KGMU) said that poor menstrual hygiene causes pelvic infections, infertility, menstrual problems, drop in school attendance, and even a link between poor menstrual hygiene and cervical cancer is being studied currently. Dr Pandey added that regular healthy menstruation cycle should be of 21-35 days, and duration of menstruation should be 5-7 days, amount of menstrual flow should be 50-80ml, and mild discomfort on first day may occur but no passage of any blood clot. If there is any aberration or any other problem then please do not delay in seeking medical advise.

Arunachalam Muruganantham, who is working with the UP government to achieve the goal of 100% menstrual hygiene by 2017 in UP state, said that (via call) "Sanitary napkins are seen as items of comfort but we will tell people that they guarantee health and dignity to women. If UP can, India surely will." Less than 5% of women in UP currently are able to access sanitary napkins during menstruation, which is a matter of grave concern. He proposes to establish a women-driven initiative in form of small scale production units of sanitary napkins at every block level, which are managed by women, to produce low cost sanitary napkins. Women at the village level be well trained in various aspects to produce and distribute these napkins to other women.Arunachalam said that delivery pads could also be supplied to local hospitals for use. "We are breaking taboos and creating awareness"

We support UP government's initiative to achieve 100% menstrual hygiene by 2017 and believe that every young girl and woman who needs these napkins will be able to access and use them without exception. Better menstrual hygiene will have far reaching positive outcomes such as severe drop in rates of pelvic infections, inflammation, menstrual cramps and vaginal discharge, better attendance in schools, among others.

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
12 August 2015