A deputy Director of Nursing Services at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital (GARH), Mavis Apatu, has advised adolescent girls to choose sanitary pads for proper menstrual hygiene management instead of using pieces of cloth as is the case in some communities across the country. She said the use of proper sanitary pads would guarantee that they are safe, clean, healthy, and infection-free.
Madam Apatu said this last week during a refresher training program for deaf girls on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in Accra. Over 90 ladies participated in the program organized by the Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) with sponsorship from AmplifyChange – an international funding agency supporting Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that advocate improved Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).
The program forms part of the advocacy measures by GNAD to ensure that the education on proper menstrual health management gets to all adolescent deaf girls who it appears have been neglected in national public discourse as far as menstrual hygiene is concerned. Participants in the program were members of GNAD between the ages of 18 and 35 drawn from Accra, Takoradi, and Koforidua.
The theme for the program was “Tackling the barriers to proper menstrual hygiene management for adolescent girls”.
Madam Apatu said though she would not advise for a ban on the use of cloths for menstrual hygiene, she will always advocate the use of sanitary pads “because it is very hygienic. In the absence of sanitary pads, you can use the cloth, but it should be properly washed, dried in the sun with pegs before use.”
She took the participants through the makeup of the female reproductive health system with a detailed explanation of what menstruation is, and why it should be handled hygienically by all females. She also discussed the changes that occur in girls at puberty. She defined menstruation as “The flow of blood that contains the breakdown of the inner hymen of the womb. It passes through the vagina, usually between 10 to 19 days. It is also known as the menstrual period”.
She said proper menstrual hygiene management means ladies using the right materials to clean the blood do well such that it does not soil them. It also involves using soap and water repeatedly. She said in doing so, it is important to pay attention to the kind of material used in cleaning the blood to ensure that one does not get infections or body odor.
“You must also make sure that you dispose of the material properly so that it does not bring infection to the environment around you,” she stated, adding that “some people don’t have the proper material so they use cloth. But such cloth must be washed properly and dried in the sun before use.
“Those using pads must wrap it properly and dispose of it in the dustbin with a lid. It should not be dumped where children or animals can find it and scatter it around. After that ensure proper bathing to prevent body odor. It is bad to bath once a day while in your menses,” she stated.
“Menstrual hygiene is changing your pads every 4 – 6 hours; washing your garments – including pants and underwear properly; discarding the sanitary pad properly. Don’t hesitate to talk about it, always discuss with people who can help you,” she added.
According to Madam Mavis Apatu, It is also important that ladies eat properly when in their periods so as to enable them to recover the loss of blood, they must also drink more water. She advised them to eat a balanced diet and ensure that they exercise more.
“Many adolescents in their menses sleep almost the whole day because of the pain they experience, but if you can walk about and do your house chores and don’t stay in one place, you’ll be fine. When the pain is serious just ask for a pain reliever,” she noted.
Executive Director of the Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD), Juventus Duorinaah, called for improved sex education and menstrual hygiene among adolescent girls. He urged for a stronger collaboration between stakeholders to enhance girl-child education in Ghana.
By Jeorge Wilson Kingson