Why are sanitary pads important?
One of the many things that makes history beautiful is that it allows us to learn about the origins of things and how they have evolved. We can see how far we have progressed over time with education, technology, and beliefs changing across communities. With this intrigue, it is interesting to study the evolution of sanitary pads and why they have gained so much importance.
According to WHO, poor menstrual hygiene plays a partial role in the high rate of cervical cancer deaths in India – nearly twice the global average. Today, the sanitary pad remains the most helpful tool to control the bleeding during menstruation, even more so in India.
Diving into the depths of time, it may surprise you, but initially, sanitary napkins were made for men to use! French nurses developed them to aid the wounded soldiers in battle to manage the bleeding. These sanitary napkins were made from materials that were cheap, absorbent and disposable. Soon enough, this invention took the commercial route, and in 1888, it was available to buy for the ladies. These pads were ineffective and troublesome as they kept slipping. They were made from cotton wool or similar material in a rectangle shape and covered with a liner to absorb the flow. This liner extended to the frontal and posterior regions to attach to loops in a belt or girdle, worn below underwear. Eventually, all this gave way to a much better method using adhesive strips to hold the pad in one place. Can you imagine wearing sanitary pads today without the essential adhesive strips?
As the years rolled on, sanitary products evolved into the options we have today, such as pads (reusable, plastic, etc.), tampons and menstrual cups. However, it is interesting to note that any advancements in sanitary products made their way into India only at a much later time than many other countries. Today, sanitary products are available in multiple options at any chemist across urban India. However, being a country with many underdeveloped areas, low-income people cannot afford pads at current prices. Hence, reduced supply chains are in place, leading to a severe disconnect with access to these bare essentials. Lack of accessibility to toilets and water amplify poor menstrual hygiene practises in rural areas. Did you know that up to 80% of women in India can’t afford sanitary protection, driving them to miss up to 5 days of school or work every month? Thankfully, efforts are being made to provide many of these women with low-cost and sustainable alternatives.
The onset of menstruation is one of the most important physiological changes occurring in girls during the adolescent years. Menstruation heralds the onset of physiological maturity in girls. It becomes the part and parcel of their lives until menopause. Apart from personal importance, this phenomenon also has social significance.
Menstrual hygiene is a hygienic practice during menstruation that can prevent women from infection in the reproductive and urinary tract. In India, menstruation is surrounded by myths and misconceptions with a long list of “do’s” and “don’ts” for women. Menstruation and menstrual practises are still clouded by taboos and socio-cultural restrictions resulting in adolescent girls lacking knowledge and remaining ignorant of the scientific facts and hygienic health practises, which sometimes results in adverse health outcomes.
Poor menstrual hygiene is one of the major reasons for the high prevalence of RTIs in the country and contributes significantly to female morbidity. Lack of knowledge regarding menstruation and menstrual hygiene lead to poor attitude and practice. There are various issues like awareness, availability and quality of napkins, regular supply, privacy, water supply, disposal of napkins, reproductive health education and family support which needs simultaneous attention for the promotion of menstrual hygiene.
Common repercussions of unhealthy menstrual practises
- Irritation of the skin causes discomfort and can result in dermatitis – a medical condition in which the skin swells, turns red, and at times becomes sore with blisters.
- The introduction of bacteria into the urethra may cause urinary tract infections (UTIs). It can happen anywhere in the urinary tract and can be fatal as it can even damage the kidneys if left untreated.
- Alteration of the pH of vaginal flora can happen. This can lead to changes in the environment and an increased tendency to get bacterial vaginosis. It impacts the maximum when the woman is trying to get pregnant.
Facts About Sanitary Napkins That You Are Never Told
Sanitary napkins are a necessary part of life in menstruating girls and women in the reproductive age group. Consider these figures and decide if it is time to change to natural and organic sanitary pads.
- On average, a woman uses between 7,000 and 17,000 sanitary napkins during her lifetime which translates to nearly 7 years of wearing sanitary pads.
- Sanitary napkins contain chemicals that can irritate and harm the delicate skin around the vagina causing allergic reactions, rashes and itching and infections.
- Many sanitary napkins even contain chlorine which can lead to cervical cancer.
- In addition, most popular sanitary napkins contain nearly 90% plastic making them non-biodegradable and polluting the environment.
Switch To Biodegradable Eco-friendly Sanitary Napkins
Of late many like-minded individuals and corporations have started to make biodegradable, natural, chemical and plastic-free sanitary napkins for women looking for alternatives to synthetic pads that are safe for the women and environment-friendly as well.
Importantly, these individuals have succeeded in removing the stigma and shame associated with periods and the taboo associated with discussing menses and sanitary pads among young girls and women and making them aware of their right to a safe and trouble-free period and to take care of their bodies. Be The Viraa also wishes to do the same. Providing sanitary pads that are completely safe for both the ladies and mother nature. We strive to give girls & women more than just pads but to curb the difference that a woman goes through in society and contribute towards a safe menstrual hygienic product.