Feminine Hygiene Products: Do you really need them?

Introduction

The concept of feminine hygiene has garnered high importance in these existing times. During the olden days, people would shy away from talking about feminine hygiene. With modernization and advancement, women have become way more open in sharing their thoughts on feminine hygiene. Intimate care truly plays an essential role in any woman's life.

In India, around 60% of women get diagnosed with vaginal and urinary tract infections every year. Our nation's lack of awareness and less availability of hygiene products are possible causes. Moreover, in the olden days, women appeared to be hesitant while purchasing feminine hygiene products over the counter. 

Over the years, a lot of changes have been observed, particularly when it comes to feminine hygiene products. The old cotton clothing is now replaced with high-quality sanitary pads. The total sales of feminine hygiene products saw an increase in 2020, too. Every country should focus on the development of the growth of feminine hygiene products.

About feminine hygiene 

Feminine hygiene, in simple terms, means maintaining intimate health. It refers to sanitary protection through the use of tampons, pads, and panty liners. Feminine hygiene is more concerned with the care and cleanliness of the vulva and vagina. In other words, it involves the use of personal care products by women during menstruation.

Importance of feminine hygiene 

In today's time, women juggle to maintain a balance between their professional and personal lives. In this process of juggling, women often tend to ignore their health and well-being. Hence, women must realise the need and requirement of maintaining personal care and hygiene. Maintaining feminine hygiene will keep at bay numerous diseases, including vaginal problems and other infections. Let us look at some ways to maintain cleanliness at all times:

  1. Proper cleanliness - The first step to ensure feminine care is to ensure thorough cleaning of the intimate area. It is essential to maintain positive PH levels to avoid the formation of yeast or any other infection. Avoid the use of any fragrant or high chemical products to clean the intimate area.
  2. Comfortable clothing - Wearing comfortable and loose inner wear is another thing that needs to be kept in mind. Loose inner wear ensure that breathability is present in the genital area. Make sure to opt for cotton clothing rather than spandex or synthetic. It is necessary to ensure that the underwear is changed at regular intervals to avoid any formation of sweat. 
  3. Carefulness while using public washrooms - Public restrooms are another area where the risk of contracting infections is high. Several people use these restrooms during the day, furthermore, increasing the chances of uncleanliness and bacteria spread. Make sure to use easy-to-carry disposables while travelling. 
  4. Menstruation hygiene - Women get their periods monthly, and hence maintaining hygiene, during those days becomes all the way more important. A good hygiene habit involves regularly changing sanitary napkins and tampons to avoid the formation of any odour. Moreover, it is necessary to understand that using scented products causes more irritation and causes an imbalance in the PH levels. Women are advised to make use of warm water to clean the intimate area. Hence, make sure that you give high importance to the maintenance of genital well-being.   

Feminine hygiene products 

Feminine hygiene products refer to the use of those items that are required during menstruation and to keep the intimate area clean. Every woman has a different menstrual cycle, and the first few days seem to be heavy. A few examples of feminine hygiene products include tampons, sanitary pads, menstrual cups, and panty liners. No doubt, when compared to the olden days, the development of pads is considered to be a boon.  In India, the government has undertaken several new initiatives to increase the awareness about the use of feminine hygiene products. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram are two known initiatives that are implemented to spread awareness about safe menstrual hygiene products.

Different types of feminine hygiene products

Sanitary pads 

Sanitary pads are the most popular form of protection used by women during their monthly cycle. They comprise an absorbent material that soaks up the menstrual fluid during a woman's menstrual cycle. Nowadays, many types of sanitary pads are available in the market. Sanitary pads offer a comforting feeling to women during their periods. 

Tampons

A tampon is a modern product used by many women during their menstrual cycle. They are inserted directly into the vagina with the help of an applicator. While tampons are considered convenient to use, there is a high risk associated with their usage. TSS is a common problem diagnosed while using tampons. The syndrome is due to the high risk of bacterial infections.

Panty shields 

Panty shields is a type of sanitary napkin, however, it is much thinner than ordinary pads. The shields comprise a light nonwoven fabric ideal for light menstrual flows, everyday vaginal discharge, spotting, and urine leaks. Panty liners or shields are for everyday use and they help women to maintain freshness in the intimate area.

Menstrual cups 

Menstrual cups can be defined as a cup that appears like a funnel and comprises rubber or silicone material. As compared to the above-mentioned hygiene products, menstrual cups are reusable. These cups can hold more blood and are more favourable to use than tampons. Menstrual Cups may last for up to 12 hours. 

Is there a need for feminine hygiene products? 

Though there are various types of feminine hygiene products available today, the real question arises - Are these products safe to use? Moreover, do these feminine hygiene products follow any safety standards? During the lifespan of a woman, more than 15,000 sanitary pads might be required to use. Gone are the days when talking about feminine hygiene products was considered a taboo. Thorough research in the field on feminine hygiene products is required, which will enable us to understand the possible implications of, the use of these products on women's health.

The new age feminine hygiene products come with a lot of comfort and convenience. However, the use of chemicals in these products cause more harm than good. To date, there is no proven research highlighting that the use of feminine hygiene products is safe. Tampons and pads are products that carry a high chance of containing chemicals like dioxin and carcinogens.

Brands target customers by highlighting how these products can make you feel fresh. Sanitary pads are designed in a way that they come in close contact with the genital areas. Using highly fragrant chemical products can expose women to a lot of risks. The chemicals used in feminine hygiene products might even affect women's reproductive organs. 

When it comes to using menstrual cups, it is necessary to ensure that the cups consist of 100% medical grade silicone. The pH balance of your vagina must be maintained while using these products. Additionally, a high risk of contracting TSS (toxic shock syndrome) is associated with the use of tampons. Many tampons come with fragrances that may mess up the genital health of women and might even lead to allergies and cancer. Thus, ensure to use tampons that are fragrance-free. 

Feminine hygiene products, made of 100% cotton, are a good deal for the environment. Moreover, they will also lead to positive intimate health. The law in India does not require companies selling sanitary napkins to broadcast what goes in its making. 

Every country follows a different set of guidelines when it comes to dealing with the production of sanitary napkins. 

Facts and figures related to feminine hygiene products 

In India, the market for feminine hygiene products is expanding. Over the years, several new players and startups have entered the market. The feminine hygiene market is expected to witness a growth rate of about 14.95% over a period of 2019-2024. 

As per reports, only 18% of women make use of sanitary napkins during their periods. Most women in rural India use products including clothes, rags, plastics, and newspapers due to lack of awareness.

Various studies highlight that about 41% of young women use cloth products made at home, 38% use commercial products, and about 21% use both homemade and commercial products. The data tends to differ among various states in India. India is said to be growing fast as a menstrual hygiene market.

 

Conclusion

Feminine hygiene is a critical aspect and must be given due importance. Women across the world must be well aware of what goes into the making of the feminine hygiene products that they use for intimate care.  Feminine hygiene, if ignored, can result into the development of many diseases. 

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