Menstruation, more commonly referred to as periods is a flow of blood from the inner lining of the uterus. Mildly to extremely painful to a lot of women, menstrual practices still face many social and cultural barriers that affect menstrual management. Inaccurate knowledge and lack of information on ways it can be neatly handled is a great hindrance to menstrual hygiene.
In rural areas, women do not have access to sanitary products, not even the popular sanitary napkins leave alone menstrual cups, pads, tampons, and other products markets are flooded with. So, they mostly rely on traditional cloth pads which they wash and reuse, blatantly unaware of reproductive tract infections some of these might bring.
While the preference for sanitary protection material is purely a personal choice, apart from commercial sanitary pads, there are myriad options that women can explore nowadays. Reusable sanitary products made from materials like banana or bamboo fibre are also available in plenty that provides comfort and are environment friendly too. The choice of absorbents is the need of a woman during her menstrual cycle. Choose what comforts you because it is totally up to you!
In cities, women have access to umpteen choices but in rural areas availability, cost, and awareness plays a major role. Here is the list of products for menstruating women to choose clean and comfortable period care options.
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Washable Cloth Pads
Sustainable sanitary options especially in rural areas, reusable cloth pads are cost-effective, easily available, and eco-friendly. If hygienically washed, stored in a clean place, and dried in the sunlight, they are a safe bet. If cleanliness is not maintained, it can cause health hazards.
Traditional Sanitary Pads
Compared to cloth pads, nonreusable, traditional pads are easy to use. The good part is that these traditional pads are easily available at general stores, chemist shops, or online.
Tampons are tiny plugs made of cotton that go inside the vagina, soaking up all the menstrual blood. They come in different levels of absorbencies, like light, regular, and heavy. Tampons have a string attached to the end, so you can easily pull them out. For some women, they can be uncomfortable to use.
These are cups made of medical-grade silicone rubber inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual blood. They can be worn up to 8–12 hours and that is what makes them popular. Environment friendly and reusable, they are a great alternative to sanitary pads and tampons. The flip side is that they may cause vaginal irritation or reaction.
These are a sustainable modern age period product that goes into the vaginal cavity. Unlike menstrual cups, which uses suction to sit in the vaginal canal, discs use gravity to sit at the base of the cervix. However, they are more expensive than a conventional menstrual cup and can be hard to fit in.
Bamboo Fibre Pads
In this sanitary product, bamboo pulp is used as an absorbing material. Besides more absorbing capacity, they are affordable, easily decomposed, and environment-friendly pads. The best part of this kind of pad is its antibacterial properties.
They are just like regular underwear, except for the extra layers of fabric they contain that can absorb the menstrual blood. Also known as period panties, they can be used alone or with a tampon or menstrual cup.
Water Hyacinth Pads
Menstrual pads manufactured using water hyacinth are new in the market. The school team from Kerala has made this sanitary napkin using water hyacinth with an absorption capacity 12 times higher than a regular sanitary pad. And that’s not all! The pad is also completely disposable and can be converted into compost.