Unhygienic sanitary practices affect mental health of girls

The problems prevailing in our country related to menstruation and menstrual sanitation are beyond extreme.
Representative image
Representative imageUnsplash

CHENNAI: I’ve seen girls collecting used sanitary pads from the dustbin, which they’d wash and use during their periods,” says Dr U Suman Lathaa Mehta, founder of Go Hygiene foundation.

The problems prevailing in our country related to menstruation and menstrual sanitation are beyond extreme.

According to the data from National Family Health Survey (NFHS), 98% of women aged 15-24 years use a hygienic method of menstrual protection in Tamil Nadu (respondents may report multiple methods, so the sum may exceed 100%). Around 87% use sanitary napkins, 17% use locally prepared napkins, 13% use cloth, and less than 1% use tampons or menstrual cup. But do these numbers reflect reality?

Menstruation and menstrual sanitation continue to be taboo topics even in the urban milieu. From sanitary products wrapped in paper by the shopkeeper to being shamed for drying stained clothing, the problem funnels down to the lack of awareness. This has a direct impact on both their physical and mental health.

The NGOs working towards providing support for menstrual hygiene have met girls unaware of menstruation. “People don’t have the awareness to the extent it’s needed. When a girl attains puberty, she’s not explained about it. People, including doctors, are shy and hesitate to discuss it, and this discourages young girls from clearing their doubts or asking questions,” explains Dr A Jaishree Gajaraj, senior consultant gynaecologist, MGM healthcare.

While using unsanitary products can cause severe infections, it also impacts their mental well-being. “I see girls sulking in the corners. Many are isolated at home during menstruation with no proper sanitation. This can affect them mentally and often lead to break down of their self-confidence and self-esteem,” points out Dr Suman.

Sanitation is inclusive of toilet facilities, quality sanitary products, awareness of sanitation methods, proper disposal and many more. “Even if girls get access to pads, some don’t have money to buy underwear. It’s one of the reasons to provide hygiene kits such as pads, panties, and hand soap,” she states.

Additionally, schools don’t teach students on menstrual cycle, usage of pads and their disposal. While the government has policies to provide free sanitary products, some girls from government schools claim they haven’t received any.

While promoting awareness about menstruation, it’s also essential to stress on sustainable menstruation, pipes in M Banu Chitra, co-founder of Thoomai cloth pad, an NGO that manufactures cloth pads and has been spreading awareness on sustainable sanitation measures.

“We’re working with the city corporation on spreading awareness on sanitation measures. Awareness doesn’t start and stop with sanitary products. It involves understanding the human body, lifestyle, food habits, and the unlearning of taboos through science,” she adds.


Visit news.dtnext.in to explore our interactive epaper!

Download the DT Next app for more exciting features!

Click here for iOS

Click here for Android

Related Stories

No stories found.
DT next