-By Dr Naresh Purohit
(Epidemiologist and Advisor- National Reproductive And Child Health (RCH) Programme )

There are around 2.90 lakh girls in the adolescent age group in the hill state and many girls in this age group go through health problems related to their menstrual hygiene. Despite the efforts and activism over the past few years , Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM ) in Himachal Pradesh  takes a back seat  where a huge chunk of the population consider menstrual women  "impure."

"Indian tradition has made it into a taboo. People visit a doctor when they have any other issue, but children fear to tell their parents if they experience something strange during menstruation. As a result, numerous deaths occur due to cervical cancer. One in 10 women die due to cervical cancer.

From Kullu to Kangra, Chamba to Kinnaur and Shimla, menstruating women are considered impure. They are banned from cooking, strictly told not to touch pickles and, worst of all, forbidden entry into the house.

It is worth mentioning  here that there are 253 million adolescents in the age group 10-19 years in India. This age group comprises individuals in a transient phase of life requiring nutrition, education, counselling and guidance to ensure their development into healthy adults.These adolescent girls are susceptible to several preventable and treatable health problems, nutritional disorders like malnutrition, anaemia, overweight, alcohol, tobacco, drug abuse, mental health concerns, injuries, and violence.

 A UNICEF study shows that in India, inadequate awareness about menstrual hygiene compels 23% girls to drop out of schools after they start menstruating. This is a stage where girls are often confused and scared as to how to go about their first period since knowledge on basic hygienic practices towards menstruation is often not well addressed.

It is important to note that menstrual  periods may be irregular at first. It’s common for menstrual cycles to be irregular during the first few years after menarche. This is because the body is still establishing a regular hormonal pattern. 

Keeping track of ones  menstrual cycle using a calendar or period-tracking app can help one identify any irregularities or patterns over time.

A period usually lasts between three to seven days, with the menstrual cycle repeating every 21 to 35 days. However, it might take a year or two for the cycle to become regular. Initially, it might be unpredictable and might differ in duration, flow, and accompanying symptoms.

Proper menstrual hygiene is vital for well-being during menstruation. Use clean and absorbent menstrual products like pads, tampons, or menstrual cups. Change them regularly to avoid discomfort and prevent infections. Ensure that you dispose of used products responsibly and maintain good personal hygiene by washing your genital area with mild soap and water.