Miyola Cia Fernandes, BDS MSc
One of the most essential hygiene products used frequently by everyone who menstruates on a regular or irregular basis. It is highly fundamental to know a few safe usage points about these.
1.) Pads: Disposable:
This one comes in different varieties. Wings, without wings, long, extra-long, fragrant, cotton, synthetic, super absorbable, etc.
Important to note, they need to be disposed after maximum wear of 8 hours. Prolonged time wear have been reported to cause vaginosis and reproductive tract infection. In some cases, allergic reaction to sanitary has also been observed.
Another factor to note regarding sanitary pads, is its disposal. Flushing used pads in toilets can lead to clogged pipes and sewage backflow, presenting a serious health and safety problem.
2.) Pads: Reusable:
The word describes itself, these sanitary pads are reusable. They can be washed, dried and re-used. it has been reported that these pads can be re-used for maximum of 1 year. They are made up of various natural and synthetic materials.
These pads need to properly washed and air or sun-dried before reusing. Using damp pads can lead to skin irritation and urinary or vaginal infection. It is also important to have a sanitised changing, washing and drying area for these pads. These can be washed with normal laundry soap and clean water.
3.) Menstrual Cups:
The menstrual cups are a non-absorbent bell-shaped device made of medical-grade silicon. It is inserted into the vagina to and is held in place by the vaginal walls.
Cups needs to be emptied every 6-12 hours and rinsed before re-inserting. The menstrual cup need to be sterilised by boiling for 5-10 minutes. These cups are reusable for 5-10 years.
Cups can be worn with an intrauterine device. Good hand hygiene is equally important to use the menstrual cup.
These menstrual cups have a higher initial cost as compared to pads and tampons. However. it reduces the reoccurring costs.
Tampons are absorbent materials made from cotton and/or rayon that are inserted into the vagina and expand with moisture to avoid leakage.
They can be worn for up to 8 hours and need to be disposed after that. They are removed using the removal string. Tampons can be used with or without an applicator to assist insertion.
Tampon use is associated with toxic shock syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease. Hence it should be changed after a maximum of 8 hours. Additionally, residual chemical and fragrance can lead to allergic reactions. Extended use can also lead to UTIs and vaginal infections. Tampons can be used with an intrauterine device.
Good hand hygiene is equally important to use the tampons. Tampons are not reusable and need to be disposed properly. They shouldn’t be flushed in toilets which can lead to clogging of pipes. Also, incorrect burning can release furans and toxins.
For all the menstrual products hygiene and disposal are two key important factors to remember.
Apart from menstrual hygiene, good hand washing and other personal hygiene habits are essential in avoiding menstrual infections. Education on appropriate disposal and appropriate waste-management chain is important.