Normally, all the girls are first introduced to “periods” during puberty. This is the age when girls start menstruating and this is also the first time, girls hear the words “sanitary pads” or “sanitary napkins” So, what is a sanitary pad?
A “sanitary pad” or “sanitary napkin” means an absorbent pad that girls wear on the panties during periods or menstruation to absorb the menstrual blood. Most of the sanitary pads are made of cotton to prevent rashes and skin irritation. Sanitary pads are in a number of varieties and sizes, hence depending on the menstrual flow and preference, one need to choose a sanitary pad of suitable thickness, length and absorbency.
Every woman gets her period for almost 4-5 days once every month. Menstruation is body’s natural process occurring every month in women and can be easily managed with rest, the right menstrual hygiene and medication in case of painful periods.
Using a sanitary pad is very easy. Here are the basic steps of wearing a sanitary pad or napkin:
• Remove the paper that is on the back side of the pad and place it on the inner side of your panty
• Then remove the paper from the wings of the pad and wrap it around both the sides of the panty and firmly press it.
Also, dispose the sanitary pad properly after every use.
Maintaining personal hygiene during periods is very important for women’s health. Here are few tips to maintain hygiene during your periods.
There are several ways of sanitation during periods such as the use of sanitary napkins or pads, tampons and menstrual cups to stay clean. In India, most of the unmarried girls or married women prefer to use sanitary pads.
If you want to use a tampon then remember to choose one that has the lowest absorbency rate. Many women keep changing their brand or type of sanitary pads while some prefer to stick to one type and brand only.
It is best to try and use one brand for a while to know if it helps your requirements. Frequent switching brands can make you feel uncomfortable as brands are unique as you are and they suit everyone differently.
Do not use sanitary pads or tampons for a long time. Many women do make this mistake of using or keeping a sanitary pad or tampon for extended time. This practice is a potentially harmful one because as the menstrual blood leaves the body, it starts to decompose slowly.
By keeping the used pad close to the vaginal area and the skin around for long time exposes it to bacterial infection and itching. Also, tampons should not be left inside the body for more than 4 hours to prevent toxic shock syndrome. Clean the vaginal area before changing the pad or tampon.
Menstrual periods can be little messy and if you have pubic hair, it can that trap some blood as it is flowing out of the body. Also, it can cause infections with not clean and washed daily. Trim your pubic hair very short or close to the skin as possible before your period starts.
When your menstruation starts, wash your pubic area twice a day with mild soap in warm water. Dry the area with clean tissue paper and dust some absorbent talcum powder to prevent rubbing and rashes.
Don’t use vaginal washes or douches during period. The vagina has its own cleaning mechanism which works with a better balance of good and bad bacteria. Washing the vagina with soap can kill the good bacteria and can also result in infections.
Use only some warm water to wash your private parts. You can use soap on the external parts of the public area but do not use soap inside your vagina or vulva.
Rashes due to sanitary pad rash can occur during a period due to heavy flow. It mostly happens when the pad is wet for a long time and keeps rubbing along the thighs. Try to stay dry during your periods. If you get rashes, then change your pads regularly.
Apply an antiseptic ointment, after a bath and repeat during the day. It will heal the rash and also prevent further rashes. If it gets more worse do visit your doctor who will prescribe a medicated powder to keep the area dry.
Always wash or clean the private area in a motion that is from the vagina towards the anus. Never wash the area in the opposite direction. When you wash the area in the opposite direction then bacteria from the anus can travel to the vagina and urethral opening causing infections.
During periods, you might feel drowsy, dull and lethargic. Don’t worry, it is your body’s way of telling you to take rest. You can take a nap, read books while lying in bed, pamper yourself with sweets and chocolate, and do all the things that you don’t otherwise have the time for.
Never Throw Your Used Pads And Tampons Into The Trash Or Dust-Bin Unwrapped Because They Are Capable Of Spreading Infections And Do Smell Very Foul. You Should Wrap Them In Paper And Put Inside A Plastic Bag Before Throwing It Away. If You Are Using A Menstrual Cup, Then Wash It Once A Day In Warm Water And Some Antiseptic Liquid To Remove All The Germs. Always, Remember To Wash Your Hands With Soap After Changing Your Pad.
There are few alternatives to sanitary pads especially during summer and also beyond.
Tampons are the most favourite choice and are the easiest to use. There are different sizes as per your menstrual flow, mini to super and super plus sizes and are also easy to carry along. You can feel little awkward to insert tampon at first, but once you are used to it, it is very easy and you won’t even feel that it is inside you.
Do change your tampon at least every 4-8 eight hours, or there could be a risk of toxic shock syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease associated with tampon use.
2. Menstrual cup
It is a silicone or rubber cup that you have to insert into your vagina to hold the menstrual blood. You can rinse menstrual cups regularly and reuse them. This makes them economical, eco-friendly and gentle on your body. At first, menstrual cups can be messy and awkward to insert. They are a great option for those who are eco-friendly.
3. Washable or reusable cloth pads
Cotton pads are one of the great alternatives to the regular disposable pads. They are made up of cotton layers and coated in waterproof material to prevent leaks. Many of these cotton pads have wings that keep them in place, just the way regular disposable pads. Cotton pads are very comfortable, environmentally friendly and much healthier options than other options. It is also cost-effective as you simply reuse them.
4. Panty liners or thinner pads
Nowadays, there are variety of panty liners or thinner pads to choose and there are very thin. If your period is light, then panty liners will work better.
5. Menstrual sponges
Menstrual sponges are very similar to normal sponges. These special sponges are designed to be inserted to absorb menstrual blood. They can be reused till 12 months and is cost-effective environment friendly. They might be a little messy till you get used to it.
Dr Shelly Singh is an Obstetrician and Gynecologist in New Delhi with over two decades of experience in Gynecology and Obstetrics. Dr Shelly has completed her MBBS from prestigious MAMC, New Delhi, and MD (Gold Medalist ) Gynecology and Obstetrics from LHMC, New Delhi. She specializes in high-risk pregnancy care and has dealt with challenging cases with full confidence and successful outcomes. Currently, Dr Shelly is available at Madhukar Rainbow Hospital, New Delhi, and Rosewalk Hospital, New Delhi.