[The next day in school, Paro, Rupa and Yasmin are discussing with their friends about all that they learned from Ms Anita. They then decide that they still need to ask Ms Anita some more questions and plan to meet her again after their classes are over. Jaya also decides to join them as she wants to ask some questions.]
Paro: Good afternoon Ms Anita. If you are not too busy, we would like to ask you some more questions about what you told us yesterday.
Ms Anita: Of course, I have the time for you all. Come, let’s sit down and talk.
Yasmin: Yesterday you explained to us about why we have menstruation and how it is a normal thing. I want to know what do girls do when they have bleeding so as not to get their clothes soiled or stained?
Ms Anita: It is very important for girls to maintain their personal hygiene, and more so during menstruation. Girls may use homemade or commercially available products. They can use pieces of cotton cloth that can be made from old and soft, but clean, cloth folded in layers as a pad to absorb the blood. This folded cloth can be placed inside the woman’s undergarments or can be tied around with a homemade belt that can be wrapped around the waist. When the pad is soaked with blood, then you should change it and use another pad that may have been made in the same way. The used, folded cloth pad can be reused after it has been washed thoroughly and dried in the sun. For the next menstrual cycle, girls can keep these clean strips in a packet and put them away carefully for use when they need them. Nowadays, some girls also use ready-made sanitary napkins that can be bought from the market. These are disposable. So, when the napkin is soaked with blood it should be changed and the used one should be thrown away. To throw the napkin away, fold the napkin and put it in a piece of old paper that can be folded up and then throw it in a dustbin.
Rupa: How often should menstrual pads be changed?
Ms Anita: Each girl decides for herself what is comfortable. Menstrual cloths or pads should be changed at least 3-5 times a day, but more frequent changes may be necessary. Also, the girl should try and wash her genital area at least once a day. This practice, along with changing menstrual cloths or pads before they are completely soaked with blood can help avoid problems such as genital itching and burning during urination.
Paro: Jaya would like to ask you something but she is feeling shy.
Ms Anita: Oh, don’t feel shy. Ask me anything you want to know, otherwise how will you learn? Girls should not feel embarrassedto learn about their bodies. They should have all the information about the changes in their bodies, otherwise how will they be able to care for themselves?
Jaya: Ms Anita, I wanted to know about the white discharge that comes out of the vagina. What is it and why does this happen?
Ms Anita: The way our mouth, nose, ears and eyes are moist and have mucous, in the same way in our vagina a white liquid/fluid is prepared that protects the woman’s genitalia from infections. It is also known as white discharge. This white discharge is a natural product to keep our internal genitalia clean and hygienic and is not an indication of a disease. In some girls there may be less white fluid discharge and in some it may be more. This white fluid is discharged from the vagina during some of the days of the 28-day menstrual cycle. Also, the consistency of this fluid changes during the cycle – sometimes this discharge is sticky, sometimes thin and sometimes thick. Usually, this discharge is clean and milky white in appearance. The discharge does not smell nor does it cause any pain or itching sensation. But, if the colour of this discharge changes, there is itching in the vaginal opening, the discharge is smelly and there is pain in the back or abdomen, then it might be indicative of an infection in the reproductive tract.
Paro: But why does the colour of the discharge change?
Ms Anita: Some of the reasons may be infection, disease, mental tension, lack of nutrition, imbalance in the hormones, etc. If you notice any change in the colour and smell of your white discharge then you should consult a health worker or doctor, and not a quack.
Rupa: So, how do we ensure that this does not happen to us?
Ms Anita: All of you yourselves can take care of your health and hygiene so that your reproductive organs do not get any infection or disease. Some of the things you can do are:
- bathe regularly.
- make sure you clean your genital area regularly with soap and water.
- after passing urine and faeces make sure you wash yourself from the front to the back.
- do not use any other person’s used towel or undergarments.
Yasmin: Thank you Ms Anita for sharing all this information with us. We will make sure that we take good care of ourselves. Okay, girls, let’s go home otherwise everyone at home will wonder what took us so long at school.
Ms Anita: You are most welcome. Do not hesitate to come and ask me any questions you may have about your body, feelings and hygiene. Bye-bye.
[The girls thank Ms Anita and walk away discussing animatedly amongst themselves.]