Menstrual Hygiene Management Helping girls to celebrate menstruation

August 29, 2019

world marks menstrual hygiene day on May 28 every year. In 2019, His Marvellous Grace Foundation and Vision Spring Initiatives in partnership with other civil society organisations marked the day with a visit to girls’ schools to build knowledge on this aspect of sexual and reproductive health and rights of girls often neglected and seen as taboo subject by most parents and guardians. His Marvellous Grace Foundation who took the lead during the school initiative distributed sanitary towels as a means of creating awareness and supporting girls on proper use of menstrual pad and breaking the culture of silence on menstruation.

Menstrual hygiene management is defined as ‘Women and adolescents girls using a clean menstrual management material to absorb or collect blood that can be changed in privacy as often as necessary for the duration of the menstruation period using soap and water for washing the body as required. (

Menstruation is a natural process that is part of a woman’s reproductive health. While menstruation usually begins between ages 12 and 13, it may happen at a younger or older age. Unfortunately, in most societies conversation around menstruation and menstrual hygiene is affected by cultural and personal preferences. Information on menstruation is usually shrouded in secrecy by mothers who most times are ‘vested’ with the responsibility to educate their daughters about it as most fathers feel it is a ‘woman’s’ job. Women on their own part provide this information laced with threat! 

Many young girls start menstruation without any form of education from their mothers, A few girls who benefit from our sexuality education said they confided in men and boys. In some of these instances, they are provided with wrong information by these men or boys who take advantage of their lack of knowledge.  In most cases hygiene during menstruation is hardly made reference to by most mothers. Young people due largely to the struggle they go through before they are informed on menstruation preparedness and information feel embarrassed thereby leading to mistakes in the choice of menstruation materials and care during that period. These menstrual taboos most of which are myths impact the response of young people to menstrual hygiene management. 

This report and other follow-up interventions planned by Marvellous Grace and Vision Spring Initiatives is aimed at laying foundations and making preparatory work to enable the organisations serve as foot soldiers immediately the government invest in menstrual health management.

At a recent training attended by representatives of the above mentioned organisations more than 25 of the participants confirmed that they were not adequately informed about onset of menstruation and subsequent management of their menstruation. The submissions indicate that while some mothers are ill equipped to provide information on the subject matter, others shy away from this topic that affects all adolescent girls. 

Some of the information as presented by the participants show threats such as: if a boy touches you, you will be pregnant, menstruation is dirty and smelly; you have become a woman and as such must abstain from talking to boys. Most of the participants confirmed that their major source of information was from peers who themselves are ill informed, most girls have no relationships with fathers; some thought menstruation was as a result of bad behaviour. With this lack of information comes lack of adequate knowledge and care during and after menstruation.

In view of the above challenges, there is a need to break the silence around menstruation and menstrual hygiene and help girls maintain hygiene during menstruation. In some communities and places of worship, menstrual flow is associated with uncleanness and therefore difficult to reach out to young people as they are isolated, there is the need to break the barrier of silence as mothers equate menstruation as a time to guide against pregnancy, with teachings on fear, young people fail to have healthy conversations with parents on menstrual hygiene, there is lack of comfort around the subject and girls tend to make wrong choices regarding how to take care of themselves. 

There are many myths around menstrual hygiene which place behavioural restrictions on young people and exclude them from opportunities that male counterparts enjoy. They include:  Tampons will break your hymen and you lose your virginity; Entering the church during menstruation is a bad omen; Cold drinks affect the flow of menstruation; Using tampons made from clothes is dirty; Periods are dirty; You cannot swim when you are menstruating Periods are shameful and must not be talked about.

The myths also make it harder for women to talk about their period which leads to silence, shame and misconception. There is need for concerted effort towards breaking the silence and taboo around menstruation as this inadvertently affect proper hygiene management.
Menstrual hygiene management is an essential aspect of hygiene for women and adolescents. It is a normal biological process and a key sign of reproductive health. The conversation must start by demystifying menstruation. Menstrual hygiene management enables women and girls to reach their full potentials. Young women should be encouraged to do change their sanitary napkin every 4-6 hours depending on the flow, wash their body properly, avoid use of vagina hygiene products and discard used sanitary napkin properly.

Adequate and robust information on menstruation and menstrual hygiene is a sure means of empowering our young women on Sexual and reproductive and rights education.

BY: Damisi Ladega-Executive Director, His Marvellous Grace Foundation
Ngozi Nwosu-Juba-Project director, Vision spring Initiatives

Share on Google Plus



Post a Comment