Menstrual health comprises the physical, social and mental aspects related to menstruation or periods. In India, women's health has been given secondary importance due to a male dominant society, illiteracy, low socio-economic conditions and ignorance.
The most common causes of menstrual problems are PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), and abnormal or heavy menstrual bleeding. Menstruation or monthly periods have been associated with a lot of social and cultural taboos in India.
Many young girls and women do not have facilities to manage their menses hygienically, maintaining their privacy, dignity and gender equality at home, schools and workplaces.
So, what are normal periods? A normal menstrual period lasts from 2-7 days and comes at an interval of 21-35 days. It is difficult to quantify the actual menstrual flow. In general, use of three to four XL or regular size sanitary pads per day (since they need to be changed every six to eight hours) can be considered normal on an average, but it may vary depending on the individual.
Common Menstrual Problems
1. Menstrual hygiene
2. Menstrual flow
3. Menstrual cycle
4. Menstrual hormones
Menstrual Hygiene Related Problems: Use of unclean sanitary pads or clothes can give rise to genital tract infections, anaemia and urinary tract Infection. This can be prevented by social awareness and easy availability of affordable sanitary products. It is also important to have the right knowledge about menstrual hygiene to avoid such issues from taking place.
Menstrual Flow Related Problems: One can experience excess or scanty flow during periods. Usually heavy menstrual flow can be for 1-2 days but if it continues for more than 5-7 days, it can lead to low haemoglobin and anaemia. This definitely needs to be investigated and treated along with oral iron replacement therapy. The less flow or change in flow over years can be due to hormonal imbalance. This can occur mostly after completion of family in perimenopausal age.
Menstrual Cycle Related Problems: Irregular periods, skipping or not getting periods for more than six months (also known as secondary amenorrhoea) and bleeding in between periods (called inter menstrual bleeding) are a few problems under this type of problem. The most common cause for this is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), stress, anxiety and depression. Investigations in the form of pelvic sonography and hormonal investigations are necessary to make a diagnosis. Regular exercise, a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle changes are important.
Menstrual Hormone Related Problems: This usually gives rise to psychomotor issues. They can be symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) at any age group or peri/postmenopausal vasomotor symptoms after the age of 45. Bloating, breast tenderness, irritability and depression which occur premenstrually and disappear with onset of periods are classical symptoms of PMS. If they are affecting day to day family life, then it needs to be treated.
Every woman experiences menopausal symptoms in varying severity, starting usually 4-5 years before menopause. The night sweats, hot flushes, low moods, anxiety, irritability, joint and muscle pain, loss of interest in having sex, and weight gain are typical menopausal symptoms due to deficiency of oestorgen hormones.
No matter which type of menstrual problem you're facing, it is always advisable to visit a gynaecologist who will be able to identify all your queries after making the right diagnosis.
Nua, a new-age brand transforming the women's wellness space in India with holistic and personalised solutions that addresses real problems faced by women in managing their menstrual health and personal hygiene, provides an innovative range of products and services, including India's first customizable pack of sanitary pads and self-heating menstrual cramp patches, also available on a subscription basis. (Vaishali Joshi, #NuaExpert on Gynaecology, is an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai)
Read More► Post Diwali, Delhi hospital sees 10% more respiratory problem patients
Nandpora at Saidakadal locality here wears a deserted look. The only visitor, a stray dog that lies dozing in the compound, basking in the mild May sun. In the pre-pandemic times, however, the health centre was the hub of many a bustling activity. Awareness campaigns around the importance of menstrual health would be held every fortnight, refuting myths and misperceptions around mensuration. The World Menstrual Hygiene Day, which falls on May 28, would have especially been a lively affair. But in these pandemic times, like every other non-Covid healthcare intervention, menstrual health has taken a backseat. With every resource being diverted to the crisis at hand, a crushing blow has been dealt to menstrual awareness efforts in the valley.Auqfeen Nisar (30), a resident doctor at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital, initiated a first-of-its-kind, crowd-funded campaign against menstrual taboo, 'Panin Fikr', when she was still a post-graduate student. She has been championing the cause since 2019, leading a six-member team comprising two nurses and four ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers. She conducted her campaign from the health centre in Nandpora where she was posted, catering to a community of around 4,000 women, of whom 200 are adolescent girls.She notes that the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown has unleashed a sanitary napkin crisis in the valley. "After the pandemic began, the donations stopped pouring in. Our funds have completely dried up and we are unable to provide sanitary napkins free of cost to the registered population under the initiative. Moreover, door-to-door and mass awareness campaigns are not possible at this time, when social gatherings are disallowed," Auqfeen rued.She said it took them a lot of time to bring about behavioural changes in women regarding menstrual hygiene. "The free napkins were a great source of motivation for them. However, all our efforts will go to waste if things continue like this. They will resort to their old, unhygienic practices, if they haven't done so already," Auqfeen said.She cites the example of a 35-year-old woman from Nandpora, who had attended several awareness programs, subsequently shifting from cloth to sanitary pads. However, when Auqfeen met her recently, she was saddened to hear that the woman had reverted back to using cloth.The pandemic had reduced her income, and so pads had become unaffordable.Similarly, entrepreneur Aqib Peerzada (28), popularly knowns as `Padman of Kashmir' for launching organic sanitary napkins, concurs that the pandemic has exacerbated women's deprivation of menstrual hygiene products."Before the crisis, we at Seha Health and Hygiene were engaged in distributing packs of sanitary napkins to teenage girls at affordable prices as well as free of cost to many others across the valley. Our mission was to create awareness about menstruation in addition to manufacturing affordable and organic sanitary napkins," he said. However, the lockdown severely hampered their production and operations. Their manufacturing units were shutdown, and the lack of manpower ensured that the production of sanitary pads came to a screeching halt. Aqib himself came down with Covid-19 pneumonia and had to stay away from Seha during his month-long hospitalisation and recuperation. "Eventually stocks were exhausted in many places and women had to resort to unhealthy alternatives," he said.However, despite the lockdown and threat of infection, Seha has managed to distribute many boxes of napkins, especially to women in quarantine. "I have faced many hurdles and difficulties during this time but still I personally delivered many boxes to needy girls during this crisis. I believe that it's our priority to not think about profits and targets but come forward and help people as much as we can," he said.The crisis is aggravated by the fact that the mobility of women is severely restricted during the lockdown. Irfana Zargar (30), the founder of `Eva's Safety Door' campaign, illustrates this. As part of her campaign to raise awareness, she used to distribute sanitary napkin packs for free among the attendants of public toilets in Srinagar city so that the women coming there could use them. With the toilets now shut, the campaign has also gone for a toss."The lockdown has resulted in restricted access and mobility, making it even more difficult for girls to manage their monthly cycle in a dignified healthy way," she said. Meanwhile, Irfana who also works at the Srinagar Municipal Corporation, is deputed these days at the round-the-clock district control room Srinagar that handles Covid-19 related complaints."The work is so taxing that there is no time to devote to altering the campaign to meet the pandemic needs," Irfana said.Nausheen Khan, a senior gynaecologist at Lal Ded, the lone maternity hospital in Srinagar, said after lockdown, the distribution of the sanitary pads has hit a dead end."The government must ensure that the sanitary pads are distributed to females in the community through Auxiliary Nurse-Midwives (ANMs) and ASHAs. Even if sanitary napkins are not available, they should educate them on how to make sanitary napkins at home. The napkins can be made from cotton cloth and changed frequently. They should be washed properly before using it again," she said.Khan pointed out that subsidised sanitary pads can also be made available for sale through the ration shops. "An inclusive and gender-sensitive response to COVID-19 must involve catering to the menstrual health and hygiene needs of women and girls especially from the most marginalised sections," she said.(The author is a Srinagar-based freelance journalist and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters)--IANS<br>sdr/
New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) An Apple-led study has validated women's experiences of a wide range of menstrual cycle symptoms, including some that are less commonly known or discussed that will help destigmatise menstrual symptoms.The Apple Women's Health Study team at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on Wednesday released a preliminary study update, offering pioneering scientific insights on women and their menstrual symptoms, made possible through the innovative research methodology of the Research app.The update, based on a cohort of 10,000 participants and inclusive of varying ages and races across the US, highlights how large-scale, longitudinal research on menstruation can help advance the science around women's health.The study found that most frequently tracked symptoms were abdominal cramps, bloating and tiredness, all of which were experienced by more than 60 per cent of participants who logged symptoms.More than half of the participants who logged symptoms reported acne and headaches. Some less widely recognised symptoms, like diarrhoea and sleep changes, were tracked by 37 per cent of participants logging symptoms."These findings take us a step further in validating and destigmatising period symptoms," said Dr Sumbul Desai, Apple's vice president of Health.Initial analysis also suggests these symptom trends hold true across a wide range of demographics, including age, race, and geographic location.For example, across Black, Hispanic, and white participants, the most commonly reported symptoms were abdominal cramps, bloating and tiredness."Our study will help to achieve a more gender equal future, in which all people with menstrual cycles have access to the health services and menstrual products needed to feel safe and empowered," said Dr Michelle Williams, Dean of the Faculty at Harvard Chan School.The team will further investigate the preliminary data and submit a detailed analysis, including a breakdown of methods, for peer review and journal publication."The preliminary data we are sharing today suggests women across the country have a shared experience of a wide range of menstrual symptoms, and that this natural monthly occurrence is something we should be having more discussions about," said Dr Shruthi Mahalingaiah, one of the study's principal investigators.--IANSna/
An Apple-led study has validated womens experiences of a wide range of menstrual cycle symptoms, including some that are less commonly known or discussed, that will help destigmatise menstrual symptoms.
The Apple Women's Health Study team at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on Wednesday released a preliminary study update, offering pioneering scientific insights on women and their menstrual symptoms, made possible through the innovative research methodology of the Research app.
The update, based on a cohort of 10,000 participants and inclusive of varying ages and races across the US, highlights how large-scale, longitudinal research on menstruation can help advance the science around women's health.
The study found that most frequently tracked symptoms were abdominal cramps, bloating and tiredness, all of which were experienced by more than 60 per cent of participants who logged symptoms.
More than half of the participants who logged symptoms reported acne and headaches. Some less widely recognised symptoms, like diarrhoea and sleep changes, were tracked by 37 per cent of participants logging symptoms.
"These findings take us a step further in validating and destigmatising period symptoms," said Dr Sumbul Desai, Apple's vice president of Health.
Initial analysis also suggests these symptom trends hold true across a wide range of demographics, including age, race, and geographic location.
For example, across Black, Hispanic, and white participants, the most commonly reported symptoms were abdominal cramps, bloating and tiredness.
"Our study will help to achieve a more gender equal future, in which all people with menstrual cycles have access to the health services and menstrual products needed to feel safe and empowered," said Dr Michelle Williams, Dean of the Faculty at Harvard Chan School.
The team will further investigate the preliminary data and submit a detailed analysis, including a breakdown of methods, for peer review and journal publication.
"The preliminary data we are sharing today suggests women across the country have a shared experience of a wide range of menstrual symptoms, and that this natural monthly occurrence is something we should be having more discussions about," said Dr Shruthi Mahalingaiah, one of the study's principal investigators. (IANS)
As per a study published in the 'British Medical Journal', menstrual pain, heavy bleeding and low mood may be linked to nearly nine days of lost productivity per woman every year. A focus group study indicates that 84.1 per cent women reported the occurrence of menstrual cramps or primary dysmenorrhea during their menstrual cycles.
Periods are usually associated with mild, tolerable lower abdomen or back discomfort but the pain (dysmenorrhoea) can be severe enough to interfere with day-to-day activities. The existing solutions in modern healthcare and allopathic medicine system are known to have harmful side effects in long term.
In its endeavour to offer a more sustainable, herbal and ayurvedic solution for medical cramps, India's first research to retail venture in the Ayurvedic Cannabis (Bhang) sector, HempStreet has announced the launch of medicinal cannabis based Trailokya Vijaya Vati.
The medicine has cannabis as one of its key ingredients and is effective in soft tissue muscle pains like menstrual cramps and spasms.
Shrey Jain, Co-Founder at HempStreet says: "Menstruation as a topic is highly stigmatised in our country. Period pain is often ignored by making a significant part of women lifestyle and working hours stressful and painful. But the fact is that women have even described the cramping pain as 'almost as bad as having a heart attack'. On an average, a woman goes through around 450 menstrual cycles throughout her lifetime. Irony is that the available solutions in modern medical science possess threat of serious harmful effects in case of long term consumption. Trailokya Vijaya Vati aims at providing a reliable, safe and ayurvedic solution to the women of 21st century.
He adds: "Hempstreet is working in conjunction with top notch scientists to conduct R&D around safe medication by leveraging the immense potential and natural power of Cannabis. Today HempStreet boasts of 15 approved products and a world-class research partnership with Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). We have successfully reached out to extensive doctor network of 43,000 doctors and 230 clinics to provide medical cannabis medicine, primarily to alleviate the huge menstrual pain relief crisis in India. The company strive to bring an effective and responsible usage of Cannabis, especially on the pain relief front, to its potential addressable patient base of over 35 million individuals."
The Cannabis Sativa plant, which encompasses hemp, cannabis, and marijuana, contains more than 100 different chemicals called cannabinoids. These are used to treat many diseases and conditions, including chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, menstrual cramps, muscle spasms, mental health, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis, sexual disorders, and more. The legal Cannabis industry is currently one of the fastest growing industries in the world. According to a report by Grand View Research Inc., the global legal marijuana market is predicted to reach $146.4 billion by the end of 2025.
(Puja Gupta can be contacted at [email protected])
In India there are 335 Million of menstruating women , representing nearly 30% of the nation’s population.
Menstruation has for long been a taboo topic that was only (if every talked about) discussed behind close doors. The recent wave of awareness around menstrual hygiene and its importance for female wellbeing has been pivotal.
However, one crucial point of discussion often gets missed in this conversation, that needs to be addressed. Menstrual cramps and spasms affect over 80% of the menstruating women in India, and often no heed is paid to it. It has a direct correlation with productivity, and cramps on an average result in almost 9 days of lost productivity for women every year!
The fact that period leaves are being offered only offers solution to the problem for a limited section. Think about a new mother who is also a homemaker, juggling between managing the household as well as the tantrums of a toddler. Is period leave a solution for her? Can she even take a 5 second break from the duty of caring for her child? Should she continue to work in pain and let this monthly cycle take a toll on her body?
Allopathic pain-killers and analgesics provide some respite, and majority of women aware about them become dependent. These ephemeral remedies often have immediate side-effects, ranging from an over-worked liver to rashes on the skin, which in turn snow-ball into major disorders in the longer run. With 12 years being the global average for the onset of menstruation and 41 years being that for menopause, a women on average goes through around 400 menstrual cycles in a lifetime, which requires the consumption of around 2,800+ of these allopathic tablets to counter the unbearable pain. To put things into perspective, the degree of pain experienced is often described to be tantamount to a heart attack!
There is a need for a sustainable solution that is not harming the body in the longer run. More importantly, there is a need to normalize the conversation around menstrual cramps. #LetsNotWhisper anymore and announce to the world the pain that is being endured, the degree of it and what it leads to. Its important for women to know that there is a better, more sustainable solution out there that does not harm your body in the longer run. Let’s work towards ensuring Every Period is a Painless Period globally !
This has been a focal point of our research HempStreet, and we do believe that we do have a more responsible and sustainable solution to combating and serving a third of our population that has been constantly underserved.