Body processes

Menstrual Hygiene – Function, Task & Diseases

Menstrual hygiene

All women of childbearing age have their menstrual period once a month and have to deal with the topic of menstrual hygiene . Even today, women’s menstruation is still a shameful topic.

What is menstrual hygiene?

The generic term menstrual hygiene covers all products that are used to effectively collect menstrual blood once a month and hide it from the outside world. Female menstruation has always been a topic associated with shame and fraught with all sorts of myths.

Products for menstrual hygiene are either worn in underwear, such as sanitary towels , or the blood is already collected in the body, as is the case with tampons , sponges or menstrual cups . Menstrual hygiene products ensure that underwear is protected and enable women to lead a normal life during their periods.

Shapes, Species & Types

There are a number of different products on the market: Sanitary napkins are the longest used menstrual hygiene products in the history of menstrual hygiene. While in the past mostly cloth pads were used, which were washed again after use, disposable pads that are attached to the panties with adhesive strips and absorb the blood have become established today . They are available in different versions and sizes, depending on the strength of the menstrual flow. 

Tampons are popular, small sticks made of pressed cotton wool that expand when they come into contact with liquid and absorb it. They are inserted into the vagina with or without an insertion aid and suck up the blood. Wearing tampons does not limit women, they can even go swimming with them.

Another possibility are small menstrual sponges, which are also inserted into the vagina and absorb the blood from the inside. If necessary, they are rinsed out and reinserted. However, sponges do not have the absorbency of tampons. A relatively new inexpensive and environmentally conscious method is a menstrual cup made of natural rubber or silicone. She does not suck up the blood, but catches it at the cervix . When the vessel is full, it can be emptied in the toilet, rinsed with water and reinserted.

Structure & functionality

Sanitary pads, which are mainly offered as disposable products, are made of soft fleece or plastic material, in which there is a so-called ultra core made of small plastic crystals with high suction power, which absorbs the blood and stores it inside the pad until it needs to be changed. Sanitary pads come in different sizes and strengths, with or without fragrances and more or less air-permeable. They are glued to the slip with an adhesive strip.

Tampons are made of pressed cotton with a different colored band attached to the lower end so that the tampon can be easily removed from the vagina to change. As it draws blood from the uterus , the tampon expands until it reaches its capacity. Then it can be removed with the help of the ribbon and disposed of in the garbage. Tampons should not be changed too often, otherwise the mucous membranes will dry out, but they should not remain in the vagina for longer than 8 hours due to the potential risk of infection .

Menstrual sponges as an environmentally friendly and inexpensive alternative to tampons are small natural sponges that can be cut to size. Due to the soft material, they can adapt optimally to the situation in the vagina and last about a year. They have a natural antibacterial effect and are also suitable for women with sensitive skin or allergies due to the natural material .

Menstrual cups, a relatively unknown alternative, combine the positive properties of pads and tampons. They are made of natural rubber or silicone and have a cup-shaped appearance. They are placed at the cervix like a tampon, but catch the blood like a bandage and thus protect the mucous membranes

Medical & health benefits

Which method a woman chooses mostly depends on her individual preferences and comfort. What all methods have in common is that they collect the blood from the uterus that would otherwise flow out and be visible. Women who do a lot of sport usually prefer tampons because they hardly make you feel the days. Tampons allow all movements and also swimming, which is not possible when using pads. 

However, some women prefer traditional pads because they don’t experience the congestion that some women put off using tampons. However, women who regularly use tampons sometimes have the problem that the vagina becomes dry and sensitive as a result of using tampons. However, tampons do not have the problem of odor formation that can occur when using sanitary napkins. Here, however, general intimate hygiene during the period is also important.

The sponges take some getting used to for many women because their absorbency is not as good as that of tampons. Most women are not familiar with menstrual cups. Like the sponges, they are an environmentally friendly alternative. When using sponges and cups, special attention must be paid to hygiene because they can be reused.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.