Proper Sanitary Wear and Care for Adolescents

The Swazi Observer

with Zanele Dlamini
July 9, 2011

Sanitary wear is essential for adolescents who are experiencing the feminine touch of menstruation. But how many of these young girls have been prepared by their mothers and older sisters on what they should expect as they grow up?

Body changes and chemical reactions take place in one’s body and this is sometimes taught in schools during the biology classes and sexual and reproductive health issues are at the core of the ministry of health’s programmes.

Such a programme reaches out to both young and old women. I wish to commend Julian Mlangeni, the reigning Business Woman of the Year, for the creative initiative on sanitary wear campaign.

There are a number of health risk implications that Swazi women experience if they use materials such as toilet paper, rugs or newspapers. These adolescents are most likely to suffer from vaginal infections or related unpleasant discharges.
Sanitary wear or pads, as people call them, is used by girls and women who have reached puberty and are menstruating. Menstruation is the shedding of the uterine lining through the vagina. Menstruation occurs on average once a month for four to seven days. This is also commonly called your ‘menstrual period’ or just your period. Sometimes referred to as (AF) Aunt Flo, a streetwise name. Sanitary waste products used include sanitary towels, tampons, and sanitary pads, among others.

Improper use of sanitary wear may cause risk of infection and pelvic inflammatory diseases caused by the foreign materials, which often times carry germs with them could be one problem. Use of improper sanitary wear such as newspaper, toilet paper is not recommended.

These materials are made up of pulp material and this can enter the vagina and infect the pelvic area and to a large degree it’s one cause for cervical cancer in selected females. Use of newspaper or toilet paper can also cause ascending infection, candiasis or candida, offensive vaginal discharge and sometimes burning during urination due to infection.

The problem of lack of use of proper sanitary wear and care still exists, especially in the rural areas and among those females who are living in a low socio-economic status who cannot afford to buy proper sanitary wear.
As most people get educated on the issues of sexual and reproductive health and related feminine problems such topics have improved the use of improper sanitary wear.

The most common trend among the disadvantaged females who cannot afford to purchase proper sanitary wear do continue to use material and wash it as and when it gets soiled but no one would be sure how often these materials are changed and if the females are able to take good hygienic measures of proper washing and ironing of the materials to kill the germs.

The ministry of health does not have a formal programme focusing on sanitary wear alone but the sexual and reproductive health unit does civic education on sexual and reproductive issues centre around the female organs and diseases relating to female reproductive issues.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.