Menstrual Health and Hygiene Project: MMDC & QAMC-LC

Menstruation is a regular monthly discharge of the blood and the mucosal tissue from the inner lining of uterus through vagina. When periods (menstruation) come regularly, this is called the menstrual cycle. Having regular menstrual cycles is a sign that important parts of your body are working normally. The menstrual cycle provides important body chemicals, called hormones, to keep you healthy. It also prepares your body for pregnancy each month. A cycle is counted from the first day of 1 period to the first day of the next period. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long. Cycles can range anywhere from 21 to 35 days in adults and from 21 to 45 days in young teens.

  • 52% of the female population, 26% of the total population is of reproductive age.
  • 5-15% of women have abnormal menstrual cycle globally
  • 3 out of 10 girls are unaware of the menstrual hygiene
  • 90% of the girls miss out their school on average every month
  • 23% girls aged 11-18 drop out due to lack of sanitary supplies, fear of staining.
  • 79% of Pakistani women don’t manage the periods hygienically

Menarche is considered as one of the most important changes occurring in girls during adolescent years. In most societies, menarche is an indication of developing sexuality in a girl.  However, a  substantial  body  of  literature  suggests that menarche  and  menstruation  are  mainly  negatively perceived and experienced by  girls. Amongst many reasons for this negative perception, one is that menarche conveys conflicting societal messages. While  on  one  hand it  represents  the beginning of womanhood and sexuality, on the other hand, girls of this age are seen as too young to be sexually active  Other negative perceptions are related to being vulnerable and susceptible to  different  illnesses, and  to feelings  of  disgust  and  shame. Burrow study showed that girls expressed   largely   negative   views,   viewing   menstruation   as   embarrassing,   shameful and something to be hidden.

In many parts of the world, menstruation is also stigmatized.  This is  common  in low socioeconomic squatter  settlements  of  Karachi,  Pakistan  where  this  study  was conducted. This stigma is based on traditional beliefs that menstruating women are impure and on society’s unwillingness to discuss it as a normal event. Therefore, when adolescents are not able to share their experience menstruation becomes something shameful for them. These views, in turn, have implications for how girls manage menstruation.

Menstrual health and hygiene is critical to be taught to ensure healthy lives. This project of “Menstrual health and hygiene” was conducted in the school of Multan (Allied school). Girls of age 13-15 were included in this project to be given the awareness regarding the health, diet, sanitation, disorders related to menstruation. They were showed the ways as to how one can manage the pain, take care of the hygiene and not miss out their schools when experience menstruation. The staff also attended the session and asked us about the management of the pain. To this we explained the various methods the school can provide to the girls who are in their menstruating phase. The activity of “breaking the silence” was conducted in which we encouraged the girls to talk about the menstruation and we broke the taboo by conducting the “ Breaking the Myths” which involved various myths that were broken regarding diet, exercise, sleep, drinking etc.

The session was ended by providing the menstrual kit to the girls and having a question answer session with them to have a more clear view of the hygienic status. The kits included sanitary pads, soap and the guideline for maintaining cleanliness and preventing infection during menstruation.

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The questionnaires were handed over to the girls. 54% of the girls said that menstrual bleeding doesn’t affect their social or athletic life. 96% girls perceive menstruation as a positive sign. Pain scale of the menstruation, 33% suffers from moderate pain and 36% from severe pain while 18% from no pain. When asked whether they would take greater care of menstrual hygiene after the session, 98% responded with a yes. 70% of the girls thought that this session improved their knowledge on menstrual health and hygiene while 30% thought they’ve learnt a few new things.

A post evaluation video was made where girls expressed how much knowledge they gained plus the misconceptions cleared from the seminar.

Link To The Post Evaluation Video:

https://www.facebook.com/qamc.ifmsapakistan/videos/366802477155803

References:

Activity Reported by: Fatima Anwar

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