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Menstrual Hygiene for Adolescent Female in Pakistan

Written by: Sharda Khemani

Menstrual hygiene is very important practices for adolescent female who have little or noexperience regarding menstrual cycle. As we know menstruation is a phase where “periodic discharge of blood occurs from uterus” at regular monthly intervals till the stage of “menopause”. Menarche is assumed to be traumatic event as it starts with fear, worry & distress because this is first time which occurs in girls life. So,having prior knowledge regarding menarche is the most important process, so it leads to experience in a positive way for girls in their first menstrual period. Having proper knowledge & understanding about menstruation plays a key role in attaining proper hygiene. It can improve the self-assurance in female life in many ways. 

CHALLENGES :

 FOR ADOLESCENTFor low- & middle-income countries, females are normally making use of the available resources especially in case of hygiene related issues. There is no such formal guidance from schools, there are limited economic resources, a lack of cultural acceptance or other common issues such as inadequate water, hygiene and sanitation facilities faced by girls’, particularly in schools & other public places. Collectively, evidence shows that the incapacity to handle menstrual hygiene leads to absenteeism in school, eventually resulting in poor performance and also causes depression during menstrual period. Girls don’t receive any information about how to handle menstrual related issues from schools because there is amisconception from the education sector’s end. Hence, themanagement assumes that the menstrual issue is a personal matter. The teachers themselves refuse to discuss with their students. Because of this kind of a Psyche, girls have remainedunfamiliar with menstrual issues. Almost 40% to 50% girls missed their school because of menstrual periods.

The social stigma fastened to menstruation bring about unsafe hygiene practices to many girls. These menstrual practices are rooted in their cultural epistemology. Significant information is needed for the physiology of menstruation related symptoms & puberty. Apart from improving hygiene performance for female adolescents, girls need to identify the knowledge gap by adopting safe and hygienic practices during menstrual period.

Key Role & Religious Side: According to survey, it was found that mothers & sisters play a key role in conveying information about the physiological changes as well as the cultural issues. It is very important that reliable information is transferred so that the girl prepares herself for issues related tomenstruation. 

For religious side: In other countries like India, girls are restricted from visiting temples & cooking food during their menstruation. Another belief of mothers & adolescents is to avoid food that is too hot or too cold food during theirmenstruation. 

Affordability & Comfort Barrier:

Research shows that in Pakistan, sanitary pads or napkins are rarely used by low-income families because of a lack of financial resources available. Hence, they use & reuse homemade napkins or rags frequently. In a survey, girls claimed that they are unaware about how to manage menstruation in a hygienic manner while other girls mentioned that they can’t afford modern menstrual material. In some cases, girls believe that pads are thought to be uncomfortable as it causes rashes & irritation. 

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF):

According to UNICEF, in Africa one in ten school-age girlsmissed school during menstruation because of a lack of cleanliness & separate toilet facilities. They face difficulties to manage because lack of a sanitary facilities & adequate privacy. Hence, they prefer staying home. UNICEF on 11 October 2018 in Islamabad, Pakistan partnered with School of leadership &invited all Pakistani nationals between the ages of 14-24 to come forward with the vision of new & innovative ideas to work for challenges faced by the youth & to design solutions for improving menstrual hygiene practices. 

Solution:

Girls have to undertake proper hygienic conditions in order to prevent from health issues such as urinary & reproductive tract infection. We all have to accept menstruation as a normal physiological process in females. Female adolescents must be prepared psychologically for physical changes during menstrual period. Girls should be well aware about the menstrual hygieneas well as the menstrual cycle even before their menarche phaseto maintain hygiene during menstrual period. School, health care institutes, religious centers & local societal should disseminate proper menstruation related information amongst femaleadolescents. Reliable information can improve practices & behavior over time. This change can be transferred to the next generation. In the market. we see that the prices of sanitary padsare high, so it may limit the ability of females belonging to low-income families to but pads. Therefore, they avoid usingsanitary pads and use & reuse clothes in place of sanitary pads. There is a lot of awareness needed for adolescent females living in the rural areas. I have seen many girls in my village, who don’t have any sort awareness. They are shy enough to open up about issues related to menstruation even with their mothers or sisters. They lack confidence! Their mothers & sisters play a key role in influencing them to adopt a new behavior. Adolescent female need motivation from within also, external motivation isshort term, but internal motivation is needed to adopt hygiene practices as it can be long-term. Mothers & sisters can only guide them about how to adopt hygienic ways of dealing with menses however they cannot guide them when they actually begin menstruating.

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