Menstruation is a time of heightened risk of infection for women, including sexually transmitted infections. This increased risk of infection occurs because the mucus that usually blocks your cervix opens during menstruation to allow blood to pass out of the body. This makes it possible for bacteria to travel up into your uterus and pelvic cavity. Changes in vaginal pH also make yeast infections more likely.
It is essential that each woman understand the best practices for period hygiene along with the actions and situations that put them at risk in order to maintain a healthy menstrual routine.
Wash Regularly: Bathe at least once a day to keep the body clean and avoid odor. Wash your hands before and after going to the bathroom, changing your menstrual protection or cleaning your vagina.
Wash the Right Way: Because your vagina is more sensitive than other parts of your body, it requires a different kind of wash. Always wash your vagina externally and never use normal soap, douches or shampoo on your intimate area, which can upset your natural flora and acidity. Opt for a wash specially formulated for intimate use or just use your hand and warm water.
Consider Your Wardrobe: Avoid tight clothing or fabrics that don’t breathe. Wearing clothing close to your vagina can cause increased moisture and heat and also irritate your skin. Wear cotton underwear and loose fitting clothing to stay fresh and dry.
Change Menstrual Products Often: Continual use of the same sanitary pad or tampon increases your risk of infection and toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Prolonged exposure to damp sanitary pads can also irritate your skin, which can eventually become broken and risk infection.
Use the Right Tampon Absorbency: Always use the lowest absorbency tampon needed for your menstrual flow, and never use a tampon unless you have your period. Using super absorbency tampons on a light day increases your risk for toxic shock syndrome (TSS) . Consider switching to an alternative menstrual product, such as a menstrual cup, which has no added risk of TSS.
Wipe from Front to Back: When you wipe from back to front you risk exposing your vagina to harmful anal bacteria that can cause infections such as urinary tract infections and yeast infections. Always wipe front to back and try to keep your vaginal and anal wiping separate.
Practice Safe Sex: During menstruation, women face an added risk of passing on or contracting blood-borne diseases, such as HIV or Hepatitis B, through unprotected sex. This heightened risk results from the higher concentrations of HIV and Hepatitis B found in blood, as opposed to the comparatively lower concentrations in other body fluids such as semen and vaginal secretions.