Menstrual Hygiene

Unlike what we have been made to believe, periods are not dirty. However we do need extra hygiene measures during the days of menstruation to stay healthy and feel good.

There are many ways to absorb the blood during your period days.

Sanitary Towels/pads : These  are pads made of absorbent material which are placed in the underwear to soak the blood. It is best to change them regularly and avoid using the same pad for more than 3-4 hours.

Tampons : This is a small mass of absorbent material which can be inserted into the vagina to absorb the menstrual flow. You can use tampons at any age after you have started your period. They can be inserted with an applicator or your fingers. THey are most useful if you want to go swimming while you are on your period. They come in many sizes and u can choose depending on your flow. But remember to change them frequently ( every 4-6 hours) and do not use a larger size on less flow days as it can lead to a serious condition called Toxic shock syndrome. Also The FDA advises not to use the tampons overnight.

You may even use tampons on the heavy flow days or for swimming and pads on other days.

Another  alternative  is a menstrual cup. This is a  device made from soft silicone. It is about 2 inches long and reusable. You can place it in the vagina during your periods to collect the menstrual blood. You can then remove and wash it every 6-8 hours and reinsert it.

Whatever method of sanitation you use, it is important to change it regularly. Having daily baths and using special washes to wash the vagina even during your period will help keep you feeling fresh.

It is absolutely fine to have sex during your periods. The only thing to remember is that although chances of an unwanted pregnancy are minimal, you are still at risk of sexually transmitted infections ( maybe even at a higher risk) during your period, so try and use protection.

Do read up the post about abnormal periods and if you have any other queries, send them to drnehagami(at)gmail.com

 

How to take care of yourself

It’s quite a basic thing, however not something we are taught at school. And that is personal and menstrual hygiene. Some of us  go through most part of their lives doing what they have seen mothers and aunts and cousins do but are really in a  fix when their little sister or daughter asks to questions things.

Well, I thought it best to put together some tips to ensure you feel good about yourself whether you are on your period or not!

Routine care of your vulva and vagina :

The vagina is the tube leading from the outside to your cervix and Uterus and the vulva is the area down below which is the entrance to the vagina.

Both of these need special care to keep them clean and healthy. If not given proper attention it can lead to repeated episodes of itching, bad smell and even long term skin problems.

Some tips:

What to wear?

  • Try and avoid synthetic and tight underwear as it causes you to sweat more and locks the moisture in. Loose cotton panties are best for allowing air to reach your private parts. white coloured underwear is least irritant to the vulval skin. If u want to use dark coloured underwear wash it a few times before you start using it.
  • Avoid very tight clothing for very long periods of time, unless necessary.
  • If you do have to wear a tight dress or uniform at work try and spend the time at home without any underwear or loose cotton stuff.
  • It is best to sleep without your underwear unless you are on your period.
  • Change your underwear daily and its a good idea to buy new stuff every 6 months.
  • Avoid panty liners on a regular basis.

How to wash?

The vulva is covered with skin so it needs routine hygiene measures. The vagina on the other hand has plenty of normal helpful bacteria. So its a good idea to not wash it very vigorously with jet of water or soap as that may cause the good bacteria also to be washed away.

  • The vulva needs to be washed once a day. At the maximum you should wash the vulva and vagina twice a day but not more.
  • There is no need to scrub very hard. It is best to avoid soap. Instead you can use a lactic acid based wash.
  • Showering is better than soaking for long in a bath.
  • After the bath or washing the vagina, let the vulva dry completely or dab it gently with a soft towel. A hair dryer on a cool setting can also be used to dry the vulva.
  • Shampoos can irritate the vulval region. so be careful when you wash you hair and make sure the shampoo is completely washed off with water.
  • It is best to avoid fabric softeners and Biological washing powders while washing your underwear.

And some more advice – 

  • Sometimes creams, even herbal ones can have something that may irritate your vulval skin. Try and avoid using them on the vulva or in the bath.
  • There are emollients available that can be used on the vulva. They also act as a moisturizer. You can check with your doctor or pharmacy for one.
  • If your partner uses condoms and you are regularly have itching after intercourse you may have allergy to the spermicide or lubricant being used.
  • Avoid shaving pubic hair.Use a hair clipper instead.

Having lots of water everyday and including probiotics in your diet( yoghurt etc) also helps to keep you feeling better – overall and down below also!

Hope all this helps you in feeling good about yourself – Inside out !

Planning a pregnancy?? :-)

Ok so you and your partner have decided that you are ready for a baby!!

It may have been one of you pushing the other, one may be more ready than the other, but a healthy pregnancy results when you, the mom to be are sure you want to go ahead!

It will not be easy. The changes that come with pregnancy are a piece of cake compared to taking care of a baby! BUT… If you are ready and happy to welcome the little one, it will all be worth it!!

So let’s talk about what all do you need to know, plan and do before you get that lil bump!

  • Fertile period – This is the time during the month you are most likely to conceive. If you have regular 28-30 day cycles, then your ovulation most likely occurs on the 14-16th day. So if you count the first day of your bleeding as day 1 you are most likely to conceive if you have intercourse with your partner between day 10- day 20. A good idea is to do that every other day as that ensures a better sperm count and hence higher chances of conceiving. In case you have irregular periods you should speak to your gynecologist to help you determine your fertile period.
  • Pre-pregnancy checks – If you are planning a pregnancy it would be a good idea to see your gynecologist and get a few tests done. This is to ensure that you are at the peak of your health and if any supplements or vaccinations are required, then there is time to plan those before you become pregnant. If u have a specific medical condition then its best to see your doctor at least 3 months before planning the pregnancy. This will help to optimise your health and change the medications to those that are safe to take in pregnancy. You could email me at drnehagami(at)gmail.com.
  • One of the tests that should be done are to check for Immunity to rubella. In case you have never been vaccinated or exposed to rubella then you would be found to be non immune on the test. In this case you could choose to take the vaccine and postpone the pregnancy for at least one month. Other tests may be directed to screen for thyroid problems or diabetes or infections like HIV or hepatitis B/C. This is done so as to plan treatment and ensure that there is least effect of these conditions on the baby and you.
  • Diet and lifestyle – food, exercise, alcohol, smoking

Increasing your fresh fruits and vegetable portions helps to ensure a healthier pregnancy. A low pre-pregnancy intake has been linked to low weight of the baby. Continue a regular exercise routine. you can continue to exercise throughout pregnancy. Of course, once you are pregnant, you may need to discuss this with your trainer.

  • Alcohol, when consumed in large amounts during pregnancy, has been shown to affect the baby in many ways. It can cause the baby to be small and have low intelligence and behavioural problems. There can even be formation defects. So it’s a good idea to stop drinking if you’re planning a pregnancy or at least restrict it to 14 units of alcohol per week. And avoid binge drinking i.e. spread this maximum limit over at least three days. A half  pint of beer, or two thirds of a small glass of wine, or one small measure of spirits is considered one unit of alcohol.
  • Smoking- I would strongly advice you to stop smoking if you are pregnant or planning pregnancy. In fact it is advised that neither you nor the father to be should be smoking during the pregnancy. This is because smoking can affect the baby and your pregnancy. It can cause miscarriage, formation defects in the baby, small baby, delivery before time, bleeding in late pregnancy and even death of the baby inside your womb.
  • Pre-existing medical problems may cause some concern to you during your pregnancy. But most conditions can be managed easily with just some extra caution and vigilance. So talk to your doctor or send me a mail and ill try and guide you.
  • Pregnancy problems in the past can have a bearing on the next pregnancy. Collect all your old records and try and remember if you were given any special instructions last time. It’s always a good idea to inform your current team as soon as possible about whatever you remember from the last time, however insignificant it may seem to you. A good doctor will pick up the clues!
  • Cesarean delivery in the past usually does not affect your pregnancy but may increase the chances of your having a repeat cesarean delivery. Again, your obstetrician should be able to guide you to the best mode of delivery for you, after looking at all your individual factors!

So good luck! Hope you have fun planning and going through your pregnancy!!