Menstruation is one of the vital processes of a woman’s body which deserves utmost caution and self-care. Women are slightly more vulnerable to bacterial infection during menstruation, due to the change in the vagina’s pH balance.
Ensuring proper hygiene during menses, and eating right is the key to ease the pain you go through.
Choose your method of sanitation
Today there are a number of ways including the use of sanitary napkins, tampons and menstrual cups to stay clean. If you do decide to use a tampon remember that it is essential to choose one that has the lowest absorbency rate for your flow. While there are some women who choose to use either different types of sanitary napkins on different days of their periods or different methods of protection (like a tampon and a sanitary napkin), there are some who prefer to stick to one type and brand. The best tip here is to use The Good One for the best protection.
Menstrual blood gets contaminated with the body’s innate organisms once it has left the body. Since your pad is still damp and will have organisms from your vagina, sweat from your genitals, etc. When these organisms remain in a warm and moist place for a long time they tend to multiply and can lead to conditions like urinary tract infection, vaginal infections and skin rashes.
Changing your sanitary napkin or tampon regularly curbs the growth of these organisms and prevents infections. The standard time to change is 4 – 6 hours.
That being said, you have to customize the changing schedule to your needs. While some women might have a heavy flow and would need to change more often, others will need to change less frequently. Usually on days when you have a lesser flow – but you must change at regular intervals.
In the case of tampons it is very important because, if left inserted into the vagina for long periods of time it can cause a condition called TSS or toxic shock syndrome – a condition where bacteria infiltrate the body leading to severe infection that can send to the body into shock – that requires emergent treatment and can lead to serious complications and even death.
Store them in the clean place
Changing your pads/ tampons regularly is essential, so you will need extra. More importantly storing them properly so that they don’t get contaminated is as important as changing. Pads or tampons that remain in your bag without a clean pouch to protect it can also lead to infections like UTI (urinary tract infection) or vaginal infection.
Don’t use soaps or vaginal hygiene products
The vagina has its own cleaning mechanism that works in a very fine balance of good and bad bacteria. Washing it with soap can kill the good bacteria making way for infections.
Wash your genital area with lukewarm water. Be careful not to use perfumed shower gels, bubble baths or soaps that can have a drying effect on the delicate mucous membranes in the vagina and upset that sensitive pH balance.
You can use soap on the external parts but do not use it inside your vagina or vulva.
Wash yourself regularly
When you menstruate, the blood tends to enter tiny spaces like the skin between your labia or crust around the opening of the vagina and you should always wash this excess blood away. This practice also tends to beat bad odour from the vaginal region. So, it is important to wash your vagina and labia (the projecting part of female genitals) well before you change into a new pad. If you cannot wash yourself before you change make sure to wipe off the areas using toilet paper or tissue.
Wash yourself right
Always wash or clean the area in a motion that is from the vagina to the anus. Never wash in the opposite direction. Washing in the opposite direction can cause bacteria from the anus to lodge in the vagina and urethral opening, leading to infections.
Avoid tight clothing
During your period, it’s a good idea to avoid tight clothing or fabrics that don’t ‘breathe’, such as synthetic ones, as these can cause increased moisture and heat, meaning bacteria tend to thrive. Stick to cotton underwear and loose fitting clothes to stay fresh and dry. And stay away from vaginal deodorant or feminine spray – these products are unnecessary and can actually cause irritation.
Change your underwear
Other tips include changing your underwear and clothes after sports, as a sweaty crotch can leave you feeling and smelling pretty grim. And when you wipe after using the toilet make sure you go from front to back to avoid transferring harmful bacteria to your vagina. Finally, make sure you practice safe sex at all times. But especially if you have sex during your period, as there’s an increased chance of passing on or contracting blood-borne diseases during menstruation.
Beware of a pad rash
A pad rash is something that you might experience during a period of heavy flow. It usually occurs when the pad has been wet for a long time and rubs along the thighs causing it to chaff. Try to stay dry during your periods. If you do have a rash, change your pads regularly and stay dry. Apply an antiseptic ointment, after a bath and before bed – this will heal the rash and prevent further chaffing. If it gets worse do visit your doctor who will be able to prescribe you a medicated powder that can keep the area dry
Stick to one method of sanitation
Women tend to use tampons and sanitary napkins, or two sanitary napkins simultaneously during heavy flow which is an efficient technique. While it may keep you dry and prevent stained clothes, but it can cause infections too. Without frequent change, the accumulated blood invites bacteria and causes infections. So, it is advisable to use one sanitary napkin and change it as frequently as you can during heavy flow. These cardinal rules will help you stay healthy and manage your period better.
Discard the sanitary napkin properly
It is essential to discard your used napkins or tampons properly because they are capable of spreading infections, will smell very foul. Wrap them properly before you throw them away, so the bacteria and infections do not spread. Make sure you don’t flush them, since that will block the toilet causing the water to back up, spreading the bacteria all over it.
Wash your hand regularly
Washing your hands properly is of utmost importance after you have wrapped and discarded the used tampons and sanitary napkins, since you’re likely to touch the stained area while wrapping them and also before and after you change your sanitary napkin or tampon.
And if you’re still worried about menstrual odour, well don’t forget it’s completely normal for your vagina to have its own slight, inoffensive smell. If you keep yourself clean but still notice a strong odour, go and see your doctor as you may have an infection.
Stick to the above and you can be sure of staying fresh and feeling comfortable every day.