Menstruation begins at puberty in females. It is a part of the monthly menstrual cycle characterized by vaginal bleeding, a normal and harmless body process. It is simply an indication of the absence of pregnancy. Ideally, every month, a woman’s ovary releases eggs to be fertilized. However, when fertilization does not occur, there is the shedding of the uterus lining. This shedding is what menstruation entails, and it is what brings about the bleeding in the vagina. Menstruation usually lasts for 3-5 days depending on different individuals, and in some, it could even occur for as long as 7 days. During these days, a high level of hygiene is crucial for the body. Ensuring that the menstrual process is as healthy and hygienic as possible helps to avoid infections and discomfort. Also, ensuring proper hygiene measures keeps the environment from being polluted.
In this case, the need for an absorbent such as a sanitary pad comes to play. The sanitary pad helps soak up the blood flow for disposal, thus making such absorbent a necessary tool for ensuring proper menstrual hygiene. However, the high cost of sanitary pads tends to be inadequate access to this product in developing countries like Nigeria. Apart from this, in rural communities, many young women, especially teenage girls who are usually just getting adapted to this process, do not often get the opportunity for adequate health education to inform them on the necessary procedures for ensuring proper menstrual hygiene routines.
While a major reason for limited education about menstruation is the conservative culture of many societies, which does not give the open space for conversations relating the sexual and menstrual health, many teenage girls are unable to afford sufficient menstrual products because of low income and the relatively high price of these products. Over the past years in Nigeria, the cost of one pack of sanitary pads containing 7-10 pad pieces has increased to between 450 Naira to 1000 Naira (between 1-2 dollars) depending on the brand of the sanitary product. Because of the price, teenage girls often resort to cheaper alternatives such as cloth and rolled toilet paper as a menstrual absorbent.
As a result of this situation, many teenage girls in Nigeria still need help in terms of menstrual education and support with menstrual hygiene products to protect their health. Educating these girls is also crucial in ensuring proper disposal, which can improve the environmental conditions of the communities in Nigeria.