By Vanessa Mwanza
The genital area of a woman is the most sensitive and fragile part of the body, hence it is important to keep it clean at all times. During menstruation the blood that is released is warm and the feeling makes a lot of women uncomfortable, not only does it make them uncomfortable but also causes irritation when the sanitary towel is not properly changed, gynaecologists recommend that pads should be changed at least 3-4 times a day especially when you have heavy flows.
Poor menstruation mainly affects teenage girls because they don’t receive much attention and education about how they should always keep clean during their menstruation cycles. Period poverty also contributes to that. Zimbabwe has recorded a lot of cases where families do not afford to buy sanitary pads and they are forced to use about anything to cover up. In some remote areas, they use cow dung cakes, leaves, old pieces of cloth, mud and even ashes, which then affects their private area and causes infection.
R. Kaur (2018) states “Practices Related to menstruation hygiene are of Concern as it is A health impact if Neglected It leads to toxic shock syndrome, Reproductive Tract infections, and other vaginal diseases. Poor genital hygiene Negatively affects adolescents’ health” Even though they do not afford to buy sanitary wear, what they use should be kept clean always and it should not be inserted inside the vagina.
“I once experienced an infection that was caused by poor hygienic methods during my cycle, some smelly fluid was coming out of my private area and my clitoris was swelling, the infection was caused by the moisture that was locked in the pad. I couldn’t afford to buy myself pads at the time and I would wear one for the whole day and night so as to save until the end of my cycle” Says a woman that wants to remain anonymous.
Women also insert unhealthy things inside their vaginas so that they could tighten their vagina, clean their womb or to fall pregnant. They insert herbs, pills and unhealthy liquids
S.E Adaji (2013), reports that “A 32-year-old woman developed a vesicovaginal fistula and vaginal stenosis following insertion of herbs into her vagina by a traditional doctor to “melt” her uterine myxomata. She underwent successful trans-abdominal repair of her fistula and passive dilatation of her vagina was recommended for the vaginal stenosis” that is how dangerous inserting herbs etc down there is.
“That time of the month is usually the hardest for women and a lot of health precautions should be taken because it is sensitive. Women should be educated about how to keep clean during the time and also teenagers should be taught at schools about the importance of hygiene during their periods. They must be advised to use cotton underwear during that time because it is breathable and absorbent, also to use unscented pads to reduce the risk of infections, scented pads block in moisture causing the growth of bacteria and awful odours. We deal with a lot of cases concerning poor menstruation hygiene and you would be amazed by what people use as pads and also what they inserted in their vaginas in the name of whatever” A nurse from Mater Dei hospital advises.
“It is so sad how it happens to the best of us, growing up in a child-headed family we were forced to make use of what we had. Pads and other sanitary equipment were a luxury to us, so we used reusable cloths cut out from our old clothes, no one taught us how to use them because there was no senior female figure at home, so we had to roll them into tampon shapes and insert them inside the vagina then properly fold another piece and lay it on our panties so that we don’t stain, it was very uncomfortable but we had no choice. And because of my experience, I now donate sanitary wear to the children that do not afford and I also advise other women that can do the same because it is quite a painful experience” Says Thandy Khumalo from Mzilikazi Bulawayo.
Hygiene during menstruation is essential so is sharing tips that may educate other women that need the knowledge and also stretching out our hands to donate sanitary wear for those that do not afford it. A healthy period is a Happy and comfortable period.