Types of Sanitary Protection for Menstruation that Every Woman Should Know
Menstruation, often called “period”, is normal vaginal bleeding that occurs once every month. Every month, your body prepares the uterus for pregnancy. If no pregnancy occurs, the blood and tissue lining the uterus break down and leave your body through the vagina. And this is your menstruation or period. This usually occurs every 21 to 35 days and last three to seven days. The first menstruation generally starts between age 11 and 14 and continue until menopause at about 40 to 45 years.
Menstruation is still clouded by taboos and socio-cultural restrictions in India. It is considered unclean and dirty. Besides, it is common for people across society to feel uncomfortable about the subject. As a result, adolescent girls remain ignorant of the scientific facts and hygienic practices, which sometimes cause adverse health outcomes. Due to a lack of menstrual hygiene, millions of girls are sufferers of reproductive tract infections (RTI) and its complications. All mothers should break their shyness about discussing with their daughters regarding menstruation much before the age of menarche. (1)
Menstrual hygiene is a crucial aspect of hygiene for women and adolescent girls between menarche and menopause. Women and adolescent girls having better knowledge regarding menstrual hygiene and safe practices are less vulnerable to RTI and its consequences. Therefore, better knowledge about menstruation right from childhood may help in mitigating the suffering of millions of women. (2)
Nowadays, many sanitary products are available in the market to maintain menstrual hygiene. The preference for use of sanitary products is based on personal choice, economic condition, and availability in the local market. Many deodorized and non-deodorized sanitary products are available in the market made of synthetic rayon fiber. However, in rural areas, women are still preferred reusable cloth pads.
In this article, we will discuss different types of menstrual hygiene products out in the market. (3)
Types of Sanitary Products for Menstruation
1. Reusable and Washable Cloth Pads for Menstruation
They may be a feasible sanitary option but you must wash them hygienically and dry properly in the sunlight. The sun’s ray is a natural sterilizer and drying the cloth pads under it sterilizes them and you can use it safely. These cloth pads are reusable so they are affordable, easily available, and environment friendly. But you need to store them in a clean and dry place for reuse to avoid contamination.
2. Commercial Sanitary Pads
Sanitary pads are rectangular in size that can stick to your underwear. You can get these pads easily at many local stores, chemist shops, as well as online. Compared to the cloth pads, they are expensive, nonreusable, and not very environment-friendly. The material used in their making is not 100% natural, skin-friendly, and may contain pesticides.
3. Tampons for Menstruation
These are the type of absorbents that can provide you internal protection. Tampons are cylindrical cotton pads that are inserted into the vagina to absorb the menstrual flow before it leaves your body. But these are expensive, not easily degradable, and hence, not environmental-friendly. These days, sea sponge tampons are out in the markets which are a natural alternative to synthetic tampons. However, tampons are comfortable than sanitary pads and you can’t feel them. You can swim in them too. You should change tampons every four to seven hours and pads every three to four hours.
4. Reusable Tampons
These tampons are washable and made up of natural materials like cotton, bamboo, wool, or hemp. They are knitted or crocheted by using natural material like cotton or wool that has absorbance capacity. Same as the disposable tampons they are inserted into the vagina to absorb menstrual flow before leaving your body. The absorbance capacity is high and hence is comfortable for use. However, tampons left overnight are not as good as it may cause infections. There are many brands of tampons and reusable tampons are available online.
5. Padded Underwear for Menstruation
These are also called period panties. Padded underwear is made with multiple layers of microfiber polyester. They are reusable and hence pocket friendly for you. These panties can hold a light to medium menstrual flow. You can also wear them with sanitary pads and tampons for extra protection during heavy flow.
6. Menstrual Cups for Menstruation
They may be a new technology for economically weak women and girls and an alternative to sanitary pads and tampons. These are small flexible funnel-shaped cups made of medical-grade silicone or latex rubber. Instead of absorbing the flow, these cups are easily folded and inserted into your vagina to collect menstrual blood. You can wear it up to 6–12 hours depending upon the quantity of menstrual flow.
These cups are reusable and environment-friendly and need to be removed and emptied less frequently. It could be a viable and cost-effective option where sanitation conditions aren’t good and costly. There are several good quality menstrual cups are out in the market or you can buy it online.
7. Bamboo Fibre Pads for Menstruation
In bamboo fiber pads, instead of wood pulp, bamboo pulp is used as an absorbing material. It has a more absorbing capacity than wood pulp and is safer to use. Pads made from the bamboo fiber are affordable, easily decomposable, and environment friendly which also possesses antibacterial properties. Thus these pads are excellent that can provide you infection and irritation-free menstruation.
Besides, bamboo charcoal pads are also available in the market or online. The advantage of these pads is that blood stains are not clearly visible and are also reusable.
8. Banana Fibre Pads
Nowadays, low-cost sanitary pads for rural women made from waste banana stem fiber were sold under the trade name “Saathi” in India. You will get it either in local medical store or online.
Banana fiber pads are environment friendly and decompose within six months of disposal. They have high absorbance capacity and ease dryness. These pads are soft, comfortable, rash, and irritation-free. You will feel safe and secure all day and night.
9. Water Hyacinth Pads
Sanitary pads made from water hyacinth are sold under the trade name “Jani.” They are low-cost, easily biodegradable, and eco-friendly.
Poor menstrual hygiene and reproductive tract infections, which have become a silent epidemic that devastates women’s life is closely interrelated. Therefore, women and adolescent girls should follow proper menstrual hygiene to protect themselves from this suffering. Knowledge of proper hygienic practices with the selection of disposable sanitary menstrual absorbent products is very much important. Findings the right sanitary products are a process of trial and error. Always consider your comfort, hygiene, budget, and convenience that matters for you before buying sanitary products.