Oxford Advanced Dictionary defines menstruation as the monthly flow of blood from a woman’s body when she attains puberty. This process is controlled by hormones called estrogen and progesterone; these hormones trigger the woman’s reproductive eggs to mature and ready for fertilization via sperm cells during intercourse and when fertilization takes place, it results to pregnancy. However, when there is no fertilization, the eggs break and flow out as monthly menstruation.
The International Menstrual Hygiene Day Initiative was pioneered by a German based Non-Governmental Organization, Wash United, on May 28, 2014 (28/5/2014), to celebrate menstrual hygiene day for women. This is in a bid to “break taboos surrounding menstruation, raise awareness of the importance of good menstrual hygiene management worldwide…”
The date is significant because an average menstrual flow for most women is 5days, in every 28days cycle (5/28). Hence, the 28th day on the 5th month annually is used to create awareness for hygienic menstruation.
While the duration of each monthly cycle could be about 28-30 days and even longer for some, and the flow could be 5 days or less for some and could start as early as 10 years or as late as age 16 for some, due to hormonal difference in every girl child/woman, it is worthy of note that any menstrual flow that starts late, less or more than 28 days cycle is not necessarily an indication of unhealthy conditions.
What is important is the comfort and adequate maintenance of good hygiene during menstrual flow, as indecency or lack of care for the body could cause adverse health challenges. BBC magazine confirms that about 50% of reproductive infections in females are caused by poor menstrual hygiene, as bacteria and fungus usually invade the genital tract and may cause reproductive tract infection during menstruation, if adequate sanitary measures are not taken during flow.
Hence, Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is said to be the most common form of infection in women, due to poor menstrual hygiene caused by infrequent change of sanitary napkins/pad or the use of unhygienic or clean sanitary pads. Girls/women should note that menstrual flow retains moisture and may consequently accelerate the growth of micro organisms, so to avoid health risk diseases or dangers of poor menstrual management, every girl/woman should consider her menstrual flow sacred by practicing utmost cleanliness during and after her flow.
Women should note that menstrual flow is not a curse, as some would say, due to the symptoms of excruciating pain, headaches, abdominal cramps, fatigue, bloating, mood swings, diarrhea and other inconveniences they face during such periods. Rather it should be seen as a natural means of cleansing the womans reproductive tracks and keeping her healthy for procreation.
Thus, parents, especially mothers should give first hand information on the subject matter to their daughters early enough.
School curriculums should be designed to give the girl child adequate information in handling this special period(s) of her life.
Ensure the effective disposal of used pads, do not flush in a toilet, as they do not dissolve, but causes pipe clogs.
Properly wrap used pads and dispose separately from domestic waste bin.Change pads frequently and wash private parts regularly to keep clean.
Do not wear pads for too long, as damp pads could cause rash, friction, irritation and infection.
Avoid certain foods that trigger heavy flow, like: spicy foods, coffee, sugar, alcohol, excess salt, etc. Rather drink a lot of water to stay hydrated, eat more vegetables, fish, ginger or turmeric tea or spices, water-rich fruits like watermelon or cucumber.
Always remain clean as a woman.
Min. of Information, Orientation and Strategy, Bayelsa State