Feminine hygiene and menstruation are interminably linked. During the lifetime, a woman’s active reproductive period lasts for about 36 years, of which the menstruation period alone spans 6 to 7 years. Imagine the quantity of menstrual products used by a woman during this phase. Notwithstanding the rampant lack of access and awareness about sanitary products among Indian women, the accumulation of disposable menstruation products in our landfills is mind boggling.
The environmental disaster looming on the horizon seems all the more critical considering that only a small percentage of reproductively active Indian women can afford or have the means to use sanitary napkins or other equivalent menstrual products. It is worth mentioning that most of these products are primarily manufactured using artificial by-products of petroleum i.e. plastics and are not biodegradable. Presumably, the plastic component in the pad may take anything up to 500 years to break down fully in the natural process. This is only indicative of the magnitude of the problem at hand.
What are the menstruation products generally in use?
There are many menstruation products in the market, and it is to your benefit that you learn about a few important ones.
- Pads: They are also called disposable sanitary napkins which is the most popular off the shelf product used by the menstruating women. These pads mainly contain plastic and a superabsorbent polymer (SAP). Biodegradable disposable sanitary pads are a recent innovation that is a healthy alternative in this segment.
- Tampons: These are made up of a blend of rayon and cotton, which when inserted within the vagina, expands by absorbing the menstrual fluid and is thus held in place.
- Menstrual Cups: Menstrual cups are mostly made of medical grade silicone and rubber. It is used in lieu of tampons by inserting it in the vagina and may be useful for up to about 12 hours at a stretch.
- Reusable Pads: These pads are generally made up of cloth and some absorbent material and are economical as compared to disposable sanitary napkins. You can wash and reuse them to last a considerable period of time.
Health hazards of the popular menstruation products?
The health hazards associated with menstruation products manifests only on long exposure and you do not face immediate issues. Some of the risks you carry are:
- The cellulose gel that forms the bulk of the absorbent material can cause cervical cancer with prolonged exposure to it.
- The chemical composition of the plastics used in the pads may lead to embryonic damage and its development.
- The absorbent material is composed of rayon, which when bleached releases dioxin, the presence of which in the pads, make them both health and environmental hazards.
- The pads if not replaced at regular intervals, make you prone to rashes, allergies, and infections.
Why choose biodegradable sanitary pads?
Considering the ill-effects of regular menstrual products, the search of a biodegradable sanitary pad began in right earnest. The further intent was to make it widely available to the Indian women, especially in the rural areas at an affordable cost. Moreover, biodegradable sanitary pads are safer for periods as they are made from harmless organic substances and are free of any chemicals, making it soft for your sensitive skin.
How are biodegradable pads advantageous over plastic ones?
The biodegradable pads are mostly made of organic materials such as bamboo, corn, jute or banana fibre with no use of harmful chemicals. These products have been made affordable to the target clientele in the Indian market. The pads are compostable, saving the country from the humongous problem arising out of the disposal of used pads and other menstrual products. Incineration creates the problem of additional air pollution with the release of poisonous fumes which is avoided in the case of using biodegradable sanitary napkins.
How to reach the biodegradable sanitary napkins online?
The production of biodegradable pads in India is still in the nascent stage with a few entrepreneurs coming forward to fulfil a dire social need. As a measure to popularize the use of these and reach it to the different corners of the country, they have been made available for purchase online. Though the reach is encouraging, the widespread use of these napkins will need much more time.
The Indian society poses a challenge to the adoption of menstrual hygiene as even now a majority view periods as a taboo topic. The girls at puberty are initiated into the routine of poor hygiene by the mothers who remain ignorant of the available options of personal care. With the introduction of proper guidance in schools and the safe, biodegradable sanitary napkins, the path has been set. A sustained effort is sure to bear fruit in future and menstruation and its hygiene management will no longer be taboo.