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About 50 percent Women Aged 15-24 Still Use Cloth During Periods

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According to the latest report of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), nearly 50 per cent of women in the age group of 15-24 years still use cloth instead of sanitary napkins during their periods. Women do this because of lack of awareness. Experts in the report raised concerns that if women reuse unclean clothing, it increases the risk of many localized infections.

The recent NFHS-5 asked women aged 15-24 if they used any method of protection during menstruation. The report said that 64 percent of women in India use sanitary napkins, 50 percent cloth and 15 percent locally made napkins. Overall, 78 percent of women in this age group use a hygienic method to avoid menstruation. Note that locally made napkins, sanitary napkins, tampons and menstrual cups are hygienic methods for periods.

Complications in pregnancy due to pelvic infection

Dr. Aastha Dayal, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram said, “Many studies have shown that bacterial vaginosis or urinary tract infection (UTI) increases the risk of pelvis infection. Since these infections Can reach the pelvis, which can cause complications in pregnancy for pregnant women during delivery. In addition, prolonged insanitation also increases the risk of cervical cancer.

Differences in menstrual hygiene practices on the basis of education

The NFHS report also states that women who have been schooled up to 12 and over are more than twice as likely to use the sanitation method than women without schooling (90 percent versus 44 percent). Dr. Dayal reported that women in the highest wealth quintile were almost twice as likely to use sanitation practices as those in the lowest wealth quintile (95 percent versus 54 percent). 73 percent of rural women adopt a hygienic method for period protection as compared to 90 percent of urban women.

Geographically, the states with the lowest percentage of women adopting a healthy method for period protection are Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Meghalaya. 59 per cent in Bihar, 61 per cent in Madhya Pradesh and 65 per cent in Meghalaya use a hygienic method of menstrual protection.

Poonam Mutreja is the Executive Director of Population Foundation of India. She said that NFHS-5 shows a direct link between education, money and clean ways to prevent menstruation. Further, she said that 80 per cent women with no schooling use sanitary pads. Meanwhile only 35.2 per cent women with 12 pass or more education use sanitary pads. He said that the use of cloth for menstrual protection is higher among women in rural areas, which is 57.2 percent, as compared to 31.5 percent of women in urban areas.

Reasons for not speaking about periods

According to Mutreja, women in the lowest wealth quintile are nearly 3.3 times more likely to use clothing than women in the highest wealth quintile. Thus, social background often determines access to proper menstrual hygiene. The ban or taboo on speaking about periods discourages women from reaching for sanitary napkins. He said that there is a need to invest in girls’ education to improve menstrual hygiene.

Re 1 per pad in PMBJP

Social activist and director of the Center for Social Research Ranjana Kumari said it is important to understand two aspects of menstruation – the shame associated with menstruation and that girls do not share it with anyone. She referred to the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP).  Ranjana said that under this scheme sanitary napkins are available at centers across the country at a cost of as low as Re 1 per pad. But the most important thing is that you still need money for napkins. That is, if girls need 12 napkins then they will need to ask their parents for 12 rupees. For what purpose she would hesitate to tell.

People hesitate to ask for money for pads

He also said that parents may think that this is a wasteful expenditure. Therefore parents also need counselling for the health of the girls. The napkins that the government is providing at Re 1 needs to be given to the communities hand-in-hand with sensitization. Between 2019-21, NFHS-5 was conducted in 707 districts of 28 states and eight union territories of the country. In this they sampled about 6.37 lakh households. It included 7,24,115 females and 1,01,839 males have been included to obtain separate estimates. Note that the national report also provides data by socio-economic and other background characteristics. This is useful for policy formulation and effective program implementation.

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