28th May 2017 marks World Menstrual Hygiene Day, a day that aims to educate girls and women on menstrual hygiene and their periods.
Getting your first period as a young girl is one of those monumental moments. Your body goes through many changes, and this can sometimes be a little scary. This is why Kotex® believes that it is so important to educate girls and women on their menstrual cycle. “Kotex® is a brand that has been around for over 90 years and has always aimed to be there as a support for women during their period,” says Shirley Nhlengethwa, Senior Brand Manager at Kotex®.
Kotex® together with their expert; Midwife and Heath Educator Sister Burgie Ireland, have put together a guide on menstrual hygiene and management with some frequently asked questions. “Many girls are embarrassed or scared to ask the questions they want to ask. Kotex® has made a “What girls are asking” tab on their website (www.kotex.co.za) where girls can submit their questions and I answer them,” says Ireland. Below are some of the frequently asked questions and answers that the girls have sent through.
Where does period blood come from?
Period blood comes from the lining of the womb called the endometrium. This blood is not dirty, smelly or bad blood that girls or women should be made to feel ashamed of. Period blood is all part of the menstrual cycle.
How much blood do I lose during my period?
On average a woman loses 3 – 5 tablespoons of blood and tissue during her period. This varies from 75 ml’s (quarter of a cup) to 125 ml’s (half a cup) at the very most.
Why does my period not come on the same date every month? Should I be worried?
No, there is no need to worry! It is normal for periods not to come on the same date every month. This is because periods come in cycles rather than in months. A cycle is calculated from the first day of one period to the first day of the next period. A cycle is usually about 28 days, but because the menstrual cycle is controlled by hormones, emotions, diet, health and lifestyle, they can be shorter (21 days) or longer (occasionally up to 90 days). Depending on when a girl/woman ovulates (releases her egg) her periods can come earlier or later than expected.
What causes period pains?
Period pain is mostly caused by the womb contracting or ‘squeezing’. Because the womb is a hollow muscular organ – about the size of a clenched fist – it needs to do this to break down the inner lining called the endometrium so that it can be shed through the vagina. A hormone called prostaglandin helps the womb to contract. Too much prostaglandin can cause stronger contractions, and this contributes to period pain. Pain killers for period pain help by blocking unnecessary prostaglandin.
Why do pads and tampons need to be changed regular during your period?
Bacteria thrives in the dark, warm and moist environment and this is why pads and tampons should be changed at least every four hours. When these are not changed often enough, bacteria builds up causing a bad odour, discomfort and skin irritations. Women are also advised against using vaginal sprays and deodorants because these can also cause skin irritations.
How should I wash my vagina? Should I use soap or a douching solution?
The vagina is ‘self-cleaning’ and has a natural smell that is normal. Douching, washing the vagina with a chemical mixture from a plastic bag and nozzle, is no longer recommended because it interferes with the normal flora of the vagina that keep it slightly acidic and healthy. The outer labia and pubic hair can be washed with a mild soap.
I have vaginal discharge, is there something wrong?
A vaginal ‘wetness’ is normal at the time of ovulation (mid-cycle when the egg/ova is released). This clear, slippery mucous does not smell, itch or burn and it only lasts for a few days. Kotex® panty-liners are ideal to wear during this time to make you feel dry and comfortable.
A discharge that has an offensive (bad) smell, itches or burns, is white, frothy, yellow or green is an infection that must be treated.
Will I lose my virginity if I wear a tampon?
No, tampons do not break virginity. Having vaginal sex breaks virginity. Tampons are essential for girls who do sports like swimming, skiing, surfing, dancing and gymnastics.
“Talking about your period is very uncomfortable for some girls and women, but it’s important that you do. We want to continue to make women feel confident and supported her during this time of the month, not only by proving the best leakage protection products with our wide range of pads, panty liners and tampons, but by being seen as the brand that women can talk to and ask the questions that they need to ask,” says Nhlengethwa
So, on the 28th May 2017 let’s celebrate World Menstrual Hygiene Day by starting the conversation and to use this day as a platform to ask the questions that need to be asked.