Poor menstrual hygiene poses new challenge for Kashmir women
Srinagar, Jan 6:
Rehana (name changed), 22, an artisan from a poor family, shudders at the
memory of a morning, when she woke up to the searing pain of boils in her
intimate area. Unable to bear the burning pain, she confided to a female friend
who accompanied her to a doctor.
“It was the last
day of my menstrual cycle and I was expecting a relief from the back pain. On
the contrary, my pain grew manifold due to the occurrence of boils. I felt
hesitant about sharing this with my mother so I told my friend,” she recalled.
The young female
was put on antibiotics for two weeks. To her surprise she landed at the clinic
again after a month seeking the same treatment.
of boils in such a short span of time after taking antibiotics surprised me.
After delving into the problem, I came to know that she maintained a very poor
hygiene during her menstrual cycle,” explained Dr Rahila Yousuf, Consultant
Gynecologist at JLNM Hospital, Rainawari.
Shazia, 16, stopped telling her mother about her periods after developing
recurrent rashes in the private area.
“It was after I
felt a frequent burning sensation and an urge to urinate repeatedly that I
couldn’t hold any longer. I was rushed to the doctor who asked me to undergo
ultrasonography,” she said.
The teenager was
diagnosed with urinary tract infection which had developed due to the poor
hygiene. “Her unhealthy menstrual hygiene was responsible for the infection.
She was subjected to anti-fungal drugs to which she responded positively,” her
still considered a taboo in Kashmiri society. Even today, the cultural and
social influences on people create a major hurdle in ensuring that the
adolescent girls are given proper knowledge on menstrual hygiene.
Dr Rahila pointed
out when women do not have access to proper sanitation and hygiene facilities
it creates a higher risk for contagion for any infectious disease.
outcomes of unhealthy menstruation management can be dermatitis, urinary tract
infections (UTIs), genital tract infection, alteration in the pH balance of
vaginal secretions, bacterial vaginitis, all leading to increased
susceptibility to cervical cancer,” she said.
She said that the
prevalence of menstrual health disorders is found in large section of women
particularly lower income group as they mostly use cloth during periods.
gynecologist Dr Auqfeen Nisar stressed that menstrual health cannot be achieved
only through smart and safe products.
“The shift in
attitudes and behavior towards better hygiene is also much needed for which we
work on social norms and patriarchal systems. Apart from these, better access
to safe sanitation eg. Toilet including disposal pathways through better waste
management and safe water is of utmost necessity,” said Dr Auqfeen, who has
been spearheading a campaign called ‘Panin Fikir’ to break the menstrual taboo
in the valley.
Earlier, a study
was undertaken by doctors of Government Medical College Srinagar with aim to
estimate burden of various menstrual disorders among females in the
According to the
study, “Menstrual problems were common in Kashmiri females. 10 % females had
irregular periods. The mean duration of bleeding was 4.89 ± 1.45 days. . Dysmenorrhea was most common menstrual
disorder present in
51% females followed
by PMS (48%)
and menorrhagia (24%).”