New Delhi: More than 51 percent of women respondents say that Indian schools do not have a proper system to prepare teen and adolescent girls regarding the onset of menstrual periods. Nearly 60 percent women feel schools lack adequate facilities for girls to change and dispose of sanitary pads off, says a survey.
Today is Menstrual Hygiene Day 2020 falling, and feminine hygiene brand Everteen had conducted the fifth edition of its annual Menstrual Hygiene Survey.
The survey was conducted among nearly 7000 Indian women participating from various cities of India including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Kolkata.
Over 51 percent women respondents claimed that Indian schools do not have adequate systems to educate or mentally prepare teen and adolescent girls regarding the onset of menstrual periods. More than 95 percent women asserted that Indian school system should have some awareness programs to prepare girls on the subject. The survey also revealed that during adolescence, nearly 60 percent women did not have any prior knowledge about menstrual periods. In fact, as many as 38 percent women had first misinterpreted it as an injury or disease.
In terms of infrastructure, almost 59 percent women felt that schools do not have adequate cleanliness of public toilets or facilities for girls to change and dispose sanitary pads off.
Chirag Pan, CEO, PAN Healthcare, says, "Menstrual hygiene and wellness have been known issues in the Indian context. While there has been progress in recent years, it is imperative that we leverage our strength in the Indian value-based systems and inculcate the importance of good menstrual hygiene from the onset of puberty itself. Schools can and must play a pivotal role in bringing this paradigm shift through classroom education, awareness programs and focused infrastructure development."
In workspaces too, 41 percent women felt their office needed better cleanliness and facilities to change and dispose sanitary pads off in toilets.
The survey also suggests that the role that doctors can play in preventing gynecological problems is significantly downplayed due to the shame and guilt associated with menstrual cycles in Indian context. More than 50 percent women said they have had some gynecological infection or problem such as UTI, rashes, foul smell or itching during or after menstrual cycle in the past one year. Among these, 20 percent of women had such issues more than 3 times during the year. More than 64 percent women have faced irregularities in their period dates, out of which half have had to deal with it more than 3 times in a year. Ironically, only 37 percent of women said they consult a doctor in case or irregular periods, whereas 32 percent prefer to discuss it within the family and 30 percent just ignore it. Similarly, more than 54 percent women have had white discharge, but only 25 percent prefer to consult a doctor.
As many as 56 percent women believe that menstruation is still perceived as a taboo in Indian society. Not surprisingly, then, more than 42 percent of women felt uncomfortable buying sanitary essentials from a shop or a chemist, especially when there were several other customers. Because of the guilt associated with menstrual cycle, 87 percent women admitted that they had to hide or secretly take their sanitary product for changing. Interestingly, more than three-fourth of the respondents said that menstruation would not have been such a taboo subject in the society if men had it too!
Another key revelation from the survey shows that 53 percent women have used a public toilet more than 3 times at an office, mall or cinema hall to change sanitary product. Hariom Tyagi, CEO, Wet and Dry Personal Care,says, "Our survey shows that 75 percent women feel uncomfortable having to use public toilets to change sanitary products. Yet, more than 93 percent women still use sanitary napkins. By switching to better, modern-age menstrual hygiene methods (MHM) such as menstrual cups, women can reduce the number of times they have to change their sanitary product in a day. Many women have told us that using menstrual cups has greatly reduced their daily discomfort due to periods." The survey revealed that menstrual cups are now being used by 4 percent of the women, and their adoption has overtaken tampons by almost double.
One of the alarming trends that emerged from the survey shows that more than one-third women said they have used a pill or some other method to delay periods in case of an important occasion.