One of the most overlooked topics when it comes to women and menstruation is hygiene.
People keep detailed calendars of their cycles, familiarize themselves with the different causes of mood swings; however, women fail to recognize the most important factor of any routine: keeping things clean and healthy.
If you’re one of those people who don’t have a consistent and comprehensive self-care regimen during periods, you’ve come to the right place.
Below is a list of do’s and don’ts for menstrual hygiene — read on to learn more.
Don’t: Using scented pads, tampons, or toilet paper
You might be tempted to use scented pads, tampons, and toilet paper because they “smell good,” but the added ingredients on these products can cause some pretty gnarly allergic reactions. You may experience anything from rashes and acne, as well as burn-like symptoms that itch or become flaky over time.
That said, make sure to choose pads, tampons, and toilet paper that are unscented to avoid developing uncomfortable reactions.
For some people, organic products might be a better option, as these products don’t contain the chemicals and ingredients typically found in pads and tampons.
Don’t: Giving in to cravings
Having cravings during your period is almost a given. And while there’s nothing wrong with eating a few pieces of chocolate to ease the discomfort of your cramps, giving in to your cravings too much can have significant negative effects on your body.
If you’re not eating well, you’re forgoing exercise, and you’re skipping taking your natural supplements, you’ll more likely experience bloating, mood swings, and other uncomfortable symptoms that typically come with your period.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle — not just during your period — can help improve your mood, cramps, and overall wellness. You’ll also feel much better at the end of a long day.
Don’t: Washing your vagina “too thoroughly”
The vagina is a self-cleaning organ, so there’s really no reason for you to get all up in there with too many feminine cleaning products. Cleaning or washing your vagina and vulva too thoroughly can lead to imbalances in the pH levels in that area, which can leave you more vulnerable to infections such as yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.
Not to say that you shouldn’t clean thoroughly around the area or your pubic hair. Washing a couple of times a day should be enough to keep things clean.
Just as you should choose unscented pads and tampons, you should also only use unscented feminine washes to avoid uncomfortable side effects.
Dos: Have a to-go kit ready at all times
If there’s one thing that every woman can relate to, it’s that you never know when you will get your period. Yes, you can track your period and have it all mapped out on your calendar but some periods can be late a day or two.
That said, having a to-go kit on you at all times is highly recommended, not just so you can tend to sudden “period strikes” but so you can also stay fresh and clean all throughout the day.
Packing a multi-purpose pouch with feminine care supplies will undoubtedly fulfill the demands for utmost comfort and ease.
Dos: Period sex
Unlike popular belief, having sex during your period can actually be one of the healthiest things you can do. Orgasms can help boost your mood and alleviate period cramps, it’s also a great form of exercise.
That said, you shouldn’t throw caution out the window just because you’ve been given the green light to have sex during your period.
It’s important that you practice the same hygiene habits for period sex as you would with normal sex. Ask your partner to wear a condom and don’t forget to pee and wash after you’re done.
Women are much more vulnerable to STIs and other infections when on their period, so practicing safe sex while menstruating is important.
Dos: Change your tampons and pads frequently
A good rule of thumb is to never leave a tampon or sanitary pad on for more than eight hours. The same can be said for reusable pads and period cups. Leaving a pad or tampon on for longer than it’s safe can result in toxic shock syndrome — a rare infection that spreads across the body and can be potentially fatal.
If you’re using reusable pads and period cups, don’t forget to wash them thoroughly using unscented soap and warm water.
The bottom line
Every woman’s period journey is different, which is why there’s really no one-stop-shop solution for period symptoms. However, one thing’s for certain — hygiene practices are universal and should be practiced by everyone to stay safe and healthy while menstruating.
The abovementioned dos and don’ts are just some of the ways you can start taking better care of yourself while on your period. Remember that it’s important to keep yourself clean, but keep a good balance between cleaning and overcleaning to avoid negative repercussions.
Our blog post is a collaborative effort by the founders of More Natural Healing in conjunction with Editors of Renewed Health Alliance, and our board of advisors including doctors, herbalists, and experts in using natural herbs and supplements to enhance our daily lives. We only provide information that has been researched, validated, and vetted for our posts and includes validation from experts in the herbal community. A person of interest on this post is the talented writing of Kat Sarmiento of Katreena's Content Studio. Kat is a contributing writer and blogger for More Natural Healing & Renewed Health Alliance.