Are Plastic pads only an option?
Why don’t we call periods by its name? Why is it always ‘this’ and ‘That’? Periods is one of the most underrated topic of India. Menstrual periods are both a mundane fact of life and an oddly dubious subject in India. In India, 23 million girls drop out of school early when they start menstruating and many of them end up facing acute health problems. A 2014 UNICEF report states that in Tamil Nadu, 79% females were unaware of periods and menstrual hygiene practices, this percentage was 66% in Uttar Pradesh, 56% in Rajasthan and 51% in West Bengal. Only 12% of women and girls in India has access to sanitary napkins and the rest 88% still uses unhygienic ways like rough rags. And even above this statistics, the more shocking is that out of every 10 girls 3 stay unaware about periods when they first gets it and in Rajasthan it goes to 9 out of 10. This lack of awareness further complicates it more for young girls to accept the natural and biological change going inside their own bodies.
We often use several euphemisms to use the word period. It is considered as a cultural taboo and women feel uncomfortable opening about the same. This taboo is sort of even pre language, above all Menstruation far predates a language. People feel ashamed talking about it openly, even in schools teachers skip the chapters related to periods. Girls today get their first period while being in sixth or seventh standard yet our curriculum introduce it in eighth standard. This uninformed aspect regarding periods also revolves around the things that can help with flow and management during those odd days. Girls think Sanitary napkins are only solution to this event but that’s not entirely true.
Don’t worry, there’s more than Plastic pads!
Girls! Expendable plastic pads are not the only menstrual hygiene product available in the market! There are much more than you think there is. Products, both disposable and reusable like period panties, menstrual cups, Menstrual Discs, pantyliners, Reusable Sea Sponges, tampons, cloth pads and even special period pants are all available at your doorstep. All these products are super reliable and leak proof that can take away all your day long hassle with the period flow. We know that tampons and menstrual cups can be a tricky for the girls who just started with their periods, but that should not restrict our conversations about their usage and benefits. Talking about how one can use them, what motive they serve and about the comfort levels these products has to offer is a necessity at this phase of life. And it is not a taboo!
Talking about tampons, it is a small roll of cotton that is inserted inside the vagina to absorb period blood and it include no worries of leakage. Tampons are excellent as it allows the mobility of doing sports, and any other work that might seem tough using a sanitary napkin. Menstrual cups on the other hand, are small cups made out of silicone that too is inserted inside the vagina but instead of absorbing blood, they collect it which can be disposed of later. Menstrual disc works same as menstrual cups, it is just a bit smaller in size than them. Period panties are specially designed to provide complete leakage protection as it involves extra absorbent lining which keeps it in the place. The Menstrual Sponges are new to the market and by its name seems to be little fascinating. Known as ‘Sea Sponge Tampons’ or ‘Period Sponge’ is a natural, renewable resource that can be used in personal care, including for use as menstrual tampons. So, you see there’s a lot more than you think there is and there are plenty of plastic pads alternatives that you might to consider using, available in the market!
Why we need to break taboos? People don’t buy sanitary napkins openly from a pharmacy, they would often call it by other names or would bring a written paper note along with them. Girls hesitate buying pads when the pharmacist is a man. All such kinds of activities is a sin for the ideology we had been carrying since ages. In fact it’s not women who are cursed but this ideology who restricts them from their daily necessities. We need to bust out all of these myths and restrictions as menstruation is not a shameful act but a natural biological process which is a very essential part of a woman’s life. There is an urgent need of educating not even our daughters but also our sons regarding menstruation to eliminate chances of infections and diseases. But to start with is of course open discussions- we need to talk about it openly so that people can also accept it openly and this starts with women themselves. Women need to speak about it as normally as anything else, make way for acceptance that’s the only way we can demolish this taboo. Teachers should stop skipping these chapters, in fact should teach these things with more passion, make the young generation taboo free and let them be themselves whether on periods or not. Children today if educated with more passion and a greater understanding gives birth to the developed nation tomorrow.