So we could spend time saying periods are about bleeding and making or avoiding babies. But periods are about more than just the bleeding. So Abigail found out when she had her period.
They had been chased into hiding due to the crises. All the running I guess sanitary materials were not the first thing that crossed her mind. While in the forest, she did not even have spare clothes to use nor water to take care of herself at this time. She resolved to using backs of trees. Like her, other girls in the forest spent time using leaves and for others who managed to get sanitary napkins, they exchanged amongst themselves just to make sure everyone had something to bleed into.
While all these may seem like fiction, sadly it’s our reality. Stop for a moment and picture having your period in the middle of the night with no sanitary material around. Imagine all the discomfort, so what more of someone who has no access at all? Managing menstrual materials is so essential and I wonder: When they use leaves, backs of trees and interchange menstrual material what then is the long term effect?
What- Menstrual products
Everything you need to Bleed:
Menstrual products are things that are used by women during their menses to collect waste blood and prevent stains
.A menstrual absorbent is anything you use to capture your menses during your period. It could be a sanitary cloth, napkin, towel, tampon or pad. And more recently, menstrual cups. Menstrual absorbents can be worn inside or outside the vagina
Things used to Manage Menstruation- Pads
There different types of pads: reusable vs disposable; winged vs unwinged.
Disposable pads are usually made of cotton, bleached wood pulp and synthetic materials (plastic)
Reusable pads are made from cotton (as flannel or old towels). Many women are turning towards reusable pads because they are cheaper long-term and environmentally friendly.
What do you think? Would you try reusable pads?
Read up on how to choose the right pads for you
Things used to Manage Menstruation- Alternatives
Apart from pads, you can use tampons and menstrual cups. In our African setting these aren’t very popular options because they are invasive i.e. worn inside the vagina. However, learning about them is cool.
Tampons are little plugs made of cotton that fit inside your vagina and soak up menstrual blood. Some tampons come with an applicator that helps you put in the tampon. Tampons have a string attached to the end, so you can easily pull them out.
Menstrual cups are shaped like little bells or bowls, and they’re made of rubber, silicone, or soft plastic. You wear the cup inside your vagina, and it collects menstrual blood. Most cups are reusable — you just empty it when you need to, wash it, and use it again.
Would you consider using tampons for menstrual cups? Why and why not?
Find out more about how to use these different menstrual products
Menstrual Products – Pros and Cons
Well, well well. This is not an easy one. It’s all a matter of weighing the options, isn’t it? Lucky we found a great article that does just that.
Quick summary though:
Pros-Great for newbie menstruators, can be worn overnight and you can monitor flow
Cons- They are restrictive and you are always conscious of their presence. And are not very environmentally friendly with all that plastic
Pros- Allow you to exercise, very unobtrusive
Cons: Can be intimidating for newbies plus it causes toxic shock syndrome (for those who forget it in there)
Pros: Reusable and cheaper long term, You don’t feel the flow and its unobtrusive
Cons: Takes a while to get the hang of it, Sexually inactive people might find the process a little more difficult (but not necessarily)
There are menstrual pants, reusable everything, disposable everything. So how do you choose?
Both have advantages and disadvantages. The reusable are environmentally friendly and while in use the problem of disposal is partially eliminated. The non-reusable however are less cumbersome to use but are not so environmentally friendly. This brings me to the question:
How do you dispose of menstrual waste?
- Do you put it in pit toilets?
- Do you bury it in the farm?
- Do you burn?
- Do you leave it in the open?
- What method do you use?
It’s important we understand that this is waste and should be properly disposed of. Do not leave it in the open because it’s detrimental not only to your health but to the health of others.
How to Properly dispose of Menstrual Waste
Blood stained materials can contaminate the environment and spread diseases if not properly disposed of. So it is critical to emphasize the need for proper disposal of menstrual waste. Menstrual absorbents should not be thrown in latrines or toilets, open drains, streams or littered around carelessly.
Menstrual waste can be buried in pits(at least 1metre deep). Burning is not very recommended as the process pollutes the air so it should only be practiced when there are no other options. You could burn the waste in a pit or in a customized drum or incinerator.
If you are going to re-use a cloth or are using a reusable pad;
- Soak it in soapy water for 20 minutes
- Wash with soap and water
- Dry the cloth in the sun
- Throw the used water in the toilet
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water
Many girls like Abigail do not have the luxury to pick and chose between different menstrual products or even think about safe disposal. They just need something to catch the flow. Do you want to help them??
BodyTalk in partnership with Hope Alive Cameroon is out to distribute 100 reusable pads to internally displaced girls in Bamenda (North West Region of Cameroon which has been affected by political violence in the last few years) . Let’s join forces and help a girl. These pads could be used for up to a year. Let’s make the life of a girl better.
By Fozao Mbi Vanessa and @ameakaf
Didn’t know about our May Menstrual Hygiene Campaign? Check out our latest Instagram post and follow us to see the amazing work we’ve been doing: