CHENNAI: While the lack of awareness on menstrual hygiene has been an ongoing issue, experts emphasise on the need of sustainable menstrual hygiene for all. As the disposable sanitary pads are not good for the environment, they are also expensive and pose a health risk to users because of the chemicals and toxins they contain, experts said.
“Poor menstrual hygiene is associated with developing several infections like reproductive and urinary tract infections, fungal infections, aerobic and anaerobic infections and even Hepatitis B. Reusable pads can go a long way in enabling women from poor background and rural areas to maintain menstrual hygiene. These are light weight, easy to wear, rash free, non-allergic and free of harmful chemicals,” said senior consultant obstetrician and gynecologist Dr Radhamani K.
Taking about the challenges in achieving universal menstrual hygiene, she said that the main issues are lack of awareness about reusable pads and limited access. "Gender inequality, cultural taboos and poverty also cause menstrual health needs to go unmet. Menstrual cups are popular reusable options also that are seeing a great deal of traction. For young girls whose bodies are still developing, reusable pads are however the better choice," she said.
Anju Bist, Co-Director of Amrita Self Reliant Village Program and popularly known as the 'Pad Woman of India,' being the key person behind the Saukhyam menstrual pads made of cloth and banana fibre, says that Dioxins are found in trace amounts on many disposable sanitary pads. These are carcinogenic and endocrine disruptors. The absorbent material in most pads is made by cutting trees. Also, the recurring cost of buying disposable pads adds up to a big amount over a woman’s lifetime. Reusable pads have none of these disadvantages but offer the same functionality, and hence need to become mainstream".
She said that reusable pads should be included in the ongoing schemes by various State government of free distribution in schools. Reusable pads need to be made available in rural areas on priority due to the prevalence of poor menstrual hygiene,” said Anju Bist.