Affordable sanitary pads can reduce the reproductive tract infection rate in women, say doctors. Ahead of Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28), doctors have urged the government to rethink the decision to tax sanitary pads as affordability is a major factor for many women to avoid usage of sanitary pads.
“During menstruation, a woman should ideally change the sanitary pads 4 to 5 times in a day. However, to save money, we see many women using a sanitary pad for long hours. This makes them prone to reproductive tract infection,” said Dr Kamakshi Bhate, Professor of department of Preventive and Social Medicine, KEM Hospital.
Dr Bhate said unlike tobacco, which is a product used for pleasure, sanitary pads are basic requirement for biological health of the woman. “Menstruation is part of a woman’s life which can’t be avoided. The government should encourage affordable sanitary pads so that we can bring down reproductive and urinary tract infection rates in women,” said Dr Bhate.
As per the available statistics, 88 per cent girls and women who menstruate use unsafe materials. Doctors advocated the plan to install a sanitary pad dispenser in schools and colleges to ensure menstrual hygiene.
“Every four hours, a woman who is menstruating should change the sanitary pads. One should not continue wearing sanitary pad with dried blood as it is a perfect bed for bacteria to grow. At schools and colleges, it is observed that girls do not change their pads because of the fear of where to dispose it, affordability and lack of clean bathrooms and water facility,” said Dr Rajashri Katke, gynaecologist and medical superintendent of Cama and Albless Hospital.
Doctors also insisted on need to spread awareness on menstrual hygiene to here are taboos and social stigma prevalent in our society.
“Menstruation is an unavoidable part of a woman’s life and private, but most girls are struggling to deal with taboos, societal norms and public policy that are imposed on them. Parents, siblings, relatives, friends and society have a strong impact on how girls perceive and manage their periods,” said Dr Sudeshna Ray, gynaecologist at Jaslok Hospital.
She added that talking about menstrual hygiene and making sanitary pads will go a long way in improving women health in India. “If we manage to remove all taboos attached with menstruation and make sanitary pads affordable, it will boost the women healthcare in the country,” said Dr Ray.