Health

4 risks of poor menstrual hygiene practices and infections it can lead to

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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Well, menstruation is not a problem, but poor menstrual hygiene is. If you’re not paying enough attention, get ready for these side effects.

Periods are different for everyone, but if there’s something that must be common, it has to be hygiene practices during menstruation. Maintaining hygiene matters a lot, especially during your menstrual cycle. So whatever feminine hygiene you practice, you should try to take them up a notch when you’re bleeding down there. But if you’re not doing it, you may end up inviting vaginal and overall health issues.

Wearing a pad/tampons for too long, douching your vagina, avoid bathing during periods, having carefree sex and not washing your vagina, or sleeping with a tampon in can be putting you at risk. It is totally normal to make period mistakes sometimes! We’ve all lived through moments like that, haven’t we? But making these unhealthy practices your habit can really in wreak havoc on your health.

risks of poor menstrual hygiene
Practice good habits during periods. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Why is menstrual hygiene so important?

Menstruation is still considered taboo, therefore it’s shrouded in myths which can lead women to follow unhealthy habits. Menstruation is a natural process and women should be aware of the right menstrual hygiene practices and shouldn’t feel embarrassed or shameful about it. Dr Pratima Thamke, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar, Mumbai, says, “Maintaining good menstrual hygiene is the need of the hour. Doing so can help a woman to keep allergies and reproductive tract infections (RTI’s) at bay.”

Here are the side effects of unhealthy menstrual practices:

1. Fungal infection

Whenever it comes to vaginal health, many women suffer from fungal infections. This is the most common infection and its symptoms include vaginal itching, burning sensation, irritation, white discharge and sometimes inflammation. Dr Thamke says, “Not changing sanitary napkins and tampons from time to time or even using dirty sanitary napkins can invite fungal infections.” It is important to do something in order to prevent the infection. So to do that you should visit a doctor.

2. Urinary tract infection (UTI)

UTI can be very difficult for women, especially for pregnant mothers. UTI happens when there is a bacterial infection in the bladder (can you can impact the kidneys), a burning sensation when one urinates, and a urinary emergency where people feel the need to rush to the washroom (which means they can’t wait). “Change in the pH of the vagina area and maintaining poor menstrual hygiene can lead to UTI,” says Dr Thamke.

risks of poor menstrual hygiene
Women are more prone to UTIs due to how their bladder system works. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Bacterial infection

Maintaining optimal vaginal health can be tricky. One of the very common conditions which can develop in your vagina due to poor menstrual hygiene practices is bacterial infection or bacterial vaginosis. Dr Thamke says, “If you wear the same pad for around 8-10 hours during the periods then there will be an increased risk of bacterial infection.” Moreover, if you’re sexually active, pregnant, or have IUD (Intrauterine device) you’re chances of getting bacterial vaginosis are high.

4. Yeast infection

Yeast infection strikes almost every woman at least once in her lifetime. It is a fungal disease caused by candida albicans. Vagina has its own biome with good bacteria to maintain the balance so when you are low on immunity, fungus strikes and out grows the rest of the organisms, leading to an infection. This condition can get worse if you are following unhealthy menstrual hygiene practices.

Maintain proper menstrual hygiene ladies to avoid the risk of getting these infections.

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