Menstruation is still a taboo topic in many parts of India. We know every adolescent girl gets her period after hitting puberty, but people do not want to talk about it. This leads to unhygienic menstrual practices, lack of availability of resources, stigmatising periods and imposing of religious and cultural restrictions on menstruating girls.
Menstruating women are often kept away from social and religious events, denied entry into temples and even in the kitchens. A National Family Health Survey (NFHS) highlighted that only 58% of women aged 15 to 24use hygienic resources during their periods in India. This is because of lack of awareness and unavailability of sanitary products.
The conditions worsen as the country was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. During pandemic, the females who were getting access to at least some services started facing the same situation again. Dr Ranjana Becon, Gynecologist at Columbia Asia Hospital in Ghaziabad, said, “Large number of people are living under unhygienic menstrual conditions and are devoid of proper menstrual products. The situation has worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Adding to it, he mentioned, “The pandemic has put a lot of financial stress on people and has forced them to shift their priorities to needs such as food over purchasing proper menstrual hygiene materials. This makes them highly vulnerable to many fatal diseases, especially during Covid times.”
Due to lack of hygienic goods, menstrual patterns of females have disturbed drastically leading to a larger impact causing infertility in women. To prevent infertility due to menstruation practices, experts have suggested some measures.
Dr Aswati Nair, Fertility Consultant at Nova IVF Fertility, New Delhi, stated, “Since sometimes our menstrual pattern could be a sign of infertility, one should therefore pay extra attention to their menstrual pattern or cycle and menstrual hygiene. In our country, a variety of factors affect menstrual behaviours. Amongst these, most influential is economic status and residential status whether urban or rural.”
Let’s look at some steps to avoid infertility due to poor menstrual practices:
- Design a system to talk about menstruation and for the access of healthy menstrual knowledge.
- Development and dissemination of sensitive information in a well-channeled way for reaching parents as well as their adolescent children.
- Providing adolescents with youth friendly services and improving the present resources.
- Educating young girls about the importance of maintaining hygiene during menstruation to prevent the risk of reproductive tract infections.
- Promoting Sexual education in schools.
- Addressing taboos to have a healthy conversation.