Let’s face it, talking about menstrual hygiene is still a taboo in most parts of India. While things are changing, with many schools taking the initiative to educate their students and parents also opening up and discussing it with their children, the conversations are usually limited to what menstruation is and how to deal with it.
There is hardly any talk about what actually happens to the body during menstruation. What are the changes that one should be prepared for? Due to lack of proper education, girls are left grappling with trying to make sense of the bodily changes that happen rapidly once they start menstruating. One common side effect is low confidence. Another area that needs open discussion and education is about the options available for menstrual hygiene products.
Usually, the girls are presented with only one option – the ones their mothers and their grandmothers were using. It is important to sit the girl down and present her with the options available and let her choose what suits her best.
At some point, education needs to go beyond this and talk about the impact of menstrual waste on the environment. The regular disposable sanitary pads take about 500-800 years to decompose. Considering that an average woman starts menstruating at about 13 years of age and continues till about 50, and uses about 8-10 pads per cycle, one can only imagine the amount of waste one woman creates in her life.
It is important to educate little girls and their parents about the impact of menstrual waste on the environment and also to make them aware of the sustainable options available. There are options ranging from cloth pads to disposable biodegradable pads to menstrual cups.
Some trial and error may be needed but I guess it is worth the try.