For many women, their period is something that is kept secret as per society’s dictates. There are no discussions around menses leaving many women lacking guidance as regards their period. Something as simple as hygiene during your menses is often neglected even when this is very important when it comes to personal hygiene and the woman’s health.
“Blood is a fantastic media for bacteria,” said Dr Anne Kihara, an OB/GYN, when she was interviewed by Caroline Mutoko. “When women are in there menses, their immunity goes down. Yeast infections flourish. Any bug lying around flairs up.”
Thus, it’s important to maintain a good personal hygiene when you are on your period to prevent bad odours and infections. You will feel more confident and relaxed as you go about your day.
Below are ways in which every woman can maintain good hygiene when on their menses.
1. Change regularly
Depending on which sanitary product you are using, make sure you change regularly. Pads should ideally be changed once every six hours and a tampon every two hours.
2. Wear clean, cotton underwear
Wear clean underwear every day. Cotton is ideal because it allows your pubic area to breath, preventing the accumulation of sweat. This is important because a warm, moist area is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria which can cause infections.
The combination of sweat and blood can also produce bad odours.
3. Wash your privates often
If possible, wash and dry your privates with plain water every time you change your sanitary product. Wash from front to back and pat dry with tissue or a paper towel (which is studier than toilet paper). Avoid using soaps and washes as these can remove useful bacteria from your privates leading to infections.
If you are unable to wash, ensure you dry yourself when you visit the toilet. Wipe from front to back This helps to remove dried blood that could cause infection and bad odours.
4. Take a shower
This might seem obvious but it doesn’t make it any less important. A regular shower or bath is important to maintain good personal hygiene. Bathing with warm water helps sooth stomach cramps and back ache, improving your mood.
5. Wear appropriate clothing
Tight clothing prevents the flow of air resulting in an accumulation of sweat. This leads to bad odours and is a good incubator for bacteria. Opt instead for loose clothing, cotton if possible, that will ensure air flow.
6. Wash your hands
After changing your pad, tampon or menstrual cup, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
If you have long nails, carry a nail brush with you to wash under your nails before and after you visit the toilet.
7. Choose the right pads
The type of pad you use will depend on your flow and if you have sensitive skin. Try out different pads (use one type several times before switching) to determine what works for you.
8. Avoid using more than one sanitary product at a time
Some women use more than one sanitary product for “extra” protection, especially if they have a heavy flow. This means using either a tampon and sanitary pad, two sanitary pads or a sanitary pad and a piece of cloth. This is unhygienic in the sense that by using a tampon and a pad or two sanitary pads at the same time, it is difficult to tell when they are full and need to be changed. In the case of the cloth and sanitary pad, the cloth might not be as clean as you think and could introduce dirt/bacteria to your privates leading to infection.
Determine which sanitary product works best for you and change regularly.
9. Discard of the sanitary product appropriately
A used sanitary product should be wrapped well and discarded in a dustbin. Don’t flush it in the toilet as this will cause blockages to the drainage.
10. Pad rash
If you get pad rash, often brought about when a pad has been wet for too long, ensure you treat it appropriately. Change your pads more often, stay dry and apply an antiseptic cream as prescribed by a doctor.