Education about hygiene holds the key

Education about hygiene holds the key

A resident of Belaganj in Bihar’s Magadh division, Damyanti has learnt it the hard way that half knowledge could be more dangerous. It could have proved fatal if a leading gynaecologist had not warned her in time about the reasons behind her vaginal infection.

Born in an extremely poor family and married in an equally conservative family, Damyanti’s nightmare used to begin once her monthly periods started. Residing in a small hamlet, which was inhabited mostly by men, she had never used any sanitary napkin. All she knew (from her mother) was to use a piece of cotton cloth during the monthly discharge of menstrual fluid, which averaged six to nine tablespoon of blood. The cash-strapped woman never felt the need to purchase a sanitary napkin until she started bleeding heavily followed by white discharge.

As she became anaemic, she had to be rushed to the nearby Sadar Hospital, where she was dumbfounded when the lady doctor told her that her vaginal infection could have led to cancer. Reason: she was using the same cotton cloth during periods for months and months. “Though I used to wash the cloth once the menstrual period was over, I never put it in my backyard out of embarrassment. On the one hand, it never got properly dried under the sun, on the other hand, the humid condition of my tiny room exposed it to fungal infection. As a consequence, it infected me too,” she said.

Soon, Damyanti was having irregular periods. From absence of periods (also called amenorrhea) to heavy bleeding, Damyanti had it all. She suffered in silence. But the loss of blood took its toll, and she had to be hospitalised. It was then that she was told about the proper use of sanitary napkins and how important it was to maintain hygiene.

With two growing daughters, Damyanti today knows that a few bucks spent on purchasing sanitary napkins (it costs Rs 10 for a eight-piece pack in her village) will save her kin from her predicament.

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