Menarche is an important biological milestone in a woman's life as it marks the onset of the reproductive phase of her life. The average age of menarche is 12-13 years of age. But it is still a taboo in Indian society as it is considered unclean and dirty. Menstruation is a normal physiological process and each woman should be aware of every aspect of MHM as it is important for the sexual and reproductive health of women.

MHM (Menstrual Hygiene Management) is defined by WHO and UNICEF as "women and girls using clean menstrual hygiene management material to absorb or collect blood, that can be changed in privacy as and when necessary for the duration of the menstrual period, using water for washing the body as required and having access to facilitates to dispose of used menstrual management material."

Most of the menstrual-related problems or consequences of unhygienic practices are because of lack of awareness, inadequate information about menstruation and its relation to their health, puberty, unavailability of appropriate infrastructure or lack of access to menstrual management products and these barriers are especially seen in rural areas.

What do we mean by unhygienic practices?

  • Using reusable cloth pads
  • Disposing of menstrual products in domestic wastes and public toilets/flushing them in the toilets
  • Restriction on bathing/washing hair
  • Unprotected sex during menstruation
  • Restrictions on food, entering religious places, attending religious rituals, and making them stay in a separate room can affect psychosocial health leading to depression/ behaviour changes/ negative attitudes towards menstruation.

Unsatisfactory menstrual hygiene management can have serious repercussions on a female's health in the form of an increased risk of

  • Reproductive tract infection (RTI) like bacterialvaginosis (BV) or Vulvo-vaginal candidiasis
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Infertility
  • Psychosocial stress leading to Depression

As a girl progresses from puberty into womanhood, RTIs are potentially triggered by poor MHM and can affect her reproductive health.

SAFE practices

  • Must change pads frequently, wetness can lead to a skin infection
  • Post urination/defecation wiping to be done from front to back to keep the bacteria from entering the vagina
  • Use of clean/highly absorbent tampons
  • Avoid frequent douching
  • Dry washed undergarments under the sun
  • Regular bathing
  • Wash hands or use antiseptic while changing the pad