The social taboos surrounding menstruation have made it difficult for a woman to talk or understand basic yet important things related to it. Kashmir Scan’s Syed Uzma had a brief conversation about menstruation with Dr. Mehzaad Bilal, General Physician, Budgam District Hospital. Through this conversation, many myths were busted, and some clouds were cleared on the basic queries that women, in general, have.
Excerpts of the Interview
KS) How important is menstrual hygiene?
MB) Menstrual hygiene is one of the essential pillars of a woman’s reproductive health. Yet it is the most neglected topic in our society. The societal taboos that persist within the topic of menstruation create much more complexity for the awareness about its hygiene.
A female goes into menstruation over 30-35 years of her life, and hygienic menstruation is as essential as menstruation is considered for reproductive life.
KS) What are the repercussions of Unhygienic menstruation?
MB) Firstly, I can say that whatever repercussion a girl or a woman faces because of unhygienic menstruation, she will never be able to discuss it with family or tell anyone because of the taboos surrounding it.
The repercussions are many and vary from mild irritation to severe diseases. For example, many women still prefer wearing cloth over sanitary pads. This is one of the leading causes of several health issues women face today. Most commonly, women face dermatitis because of unhygienic menstruation.
It can also lead to several other infections like Reproductive Tract infection and UTI (urinary tract infection) that will be recurrent in such women. Many times, it causes severe infections like pelvic inflammatory disease PDI. These are ascending infections and can cause infections to the whole reproductive track even such bacterial infections can go into the blood. Over the years, it can also lead to infertility.
All these issues change a woman’s vaginal floura, PH, which can also lead to a severe disease called cervical cancer.
Sometimes we suggest dark chocolates for women having a heavy menstrual flow that leads to anemia, chocolates contain magnesium that helps our body to form blood. Also, eating walnuts is good for menstrual health.
KS) Tips for menstrual hygiene?
MB) There are many things that a woman shall take care of and follow during menstruation, but the most important hygiene tip is the usage of sanitary napkins over cloth and making sure to change your pad every 4-6 hours. Avoid using any chemical to wash your vagina without consulting a doctor. You can keep it clean by simply washing it with lukewarm water.
Also, make sure proper disposal of sanitary napkins. Wrap it and don’t leave it in the open, not because of the taboo around it but because open blood is a suitable medium for bacterial growth, so to avoid other infections, dispose of them properly.
And lastly, washing hands before and after changing your pads is also a good practice for menstruation hygiene.
KS) Women use chemicals available in the market. How safe are they?
MB) They are not safe; I won’t promote them. In the end, they are chemicals. That’s why I would like to clearly state that one should not use such chemicals without the proper consultation of a doctor. Sometimes we have patients who complain of foul-smelling vaginal discharge in huge quantities that can lead to trichomoniasis which can cause infertility. In such cases, we may look for it, but we give them proper medication. Otherwise, we don’t prefer the usage of chemicals.
KS) Food to avoid during menstruation?
MB) The foods that shall be avoided during menstruation are high surgery, junk, and fast food. Like Pasta containing white flour, the substance is usually avoided during your period.
KS) Food to eat during menstruation?
MB) Mainly stick to homemade food. Since a lot of blood is lost during menstruation, so take a lot of fluids. Also, we should drink tea that helps with mild cramp pain for mild cramps. Sometimes we suggest dark chocolates for women having a heavy menstrual flow that leads to anemia, chocolates contain magnesium that helps our body to form blood. Also, eating walnuts is good for menstrual health.
KS) When shall a woman seek medical help during menstruation?
MB) Some people have this notion that pain during periods is normal. A slight cramp is normal but pain hindering your daily activities is not normal. Severe pain is when you should consult a doctor because periods are the physiology in a woman’s life. It should not hamper your day-to-day activities be it going to school, the office, or doing other routine work.
Anything that hinders your work is not normal. Moreover, if you are having heavy menstrual bleeding or as per doctors, we say that the average period cycle is 28- 35 days, and periods day varying from 3 to 10 days is normal. If you see any change in this duration, you should seek medical help.
KS) Truths and Myths related to menstruation?
MB) The truth is that your body gets weak because of the blood you lose, and hormonal changes make it difficult. But then you should not start treating yourself like a sick person. It is normal.
The most prevalent misconception I have seen in people here is that you should not eat sour food items like tomatoes and pickles. It is a myth and has nothing to do with periods. You can eat all the healthy food. Anything that is healthy for the body also works the same way during menstruation.
A woman can do essential relaxing exercises and meditation to calm herself because menstruation can be stressful sometimes due to changes in hormones.
KS) Can a girl work out during menstruation?
MB) A woman can do essential relaxing exercises and meditation to calm herself because menstruation can be stressful sometimes due to changes in hormones. Still, we don’t recommend vigorous workouts because your body is not in that position to uphold heavy workouts.
KS) What is PMS?
MB) PMS stands for premenstrual syndrome. It is the prevalent thing that a woman faces before actual periods. During PMS time, there is an imbalance in the physical, emotional, and hormonal hormones. To simply this concept, for example, there is a happy Harmon called estrogen, and a depressing Harmon called progesterone. During PMS time, these hormones fight with each other inside our bodies. Both should be balanced, but during this time, they both are in but rush and create confusion in our body leading to moods like irritations, sadness, anger, and feelings of loneliness and depression.
KS) Is Premenstrual syndrome normal or not?
MB) Yes, it is normal, and every girl will face it somewhere in her life. Though not necessary to have PMS every time. It varies from 1 week to 2 weeks in some cases, and some may face it in their early menstrual time, and some may have to deal with it later in their life. Like Women with menopause (cessation of menstruation) deal with an extreme form of PMS like physically their bones get weaker, and they get sweat flushes and skin dryness because at the time there is a total imbalance in the hormones inside.