High humidity during monsoon puts women at an increased risk of vaginal infections such as urinary tract infection, reproductive tract infection, and various types of yeast infections during their monthly cycles, but with adequate precautions and healthy lifestyle changes, one can keep these issues at bay. One of the mistakes that could lead to trouble for women during this time is wearing tight clothes that could lead to more sweating and thus promoting the growth of bacteria. It is also important to take extra precautions for keeping your vaginal area clean and dry. Menstrual cups are better any day compared to pads and tampons that may put you at risk of infections. (Also read: Menstrual hygiene tips every woman must follow)
Dr Manjula Anagani, Gynecologist, Advocate for Ujaas offers menstrual hygiene tips to be followed during monsoon.
Keep the vaginal area clean and dry
An increase in moisture during the monsoon decreases the pH levels in the vagina, making women more susceptible to vaginal infections, particularly fungus. During the monsoon months, it is imperative to maintain good vaginal hygiene. Simply wash your vulvas with clean water and soap. Try to avoid douching as it will effectively kill all the good bacteria in your vagina. Thus, it is important to keep the vaginal area dry and clean during the monsoon season to avoid the chance of any infection.
Avoid wearing tight clothes and wear dry cotton underwear
Wearing skinny jeans, tight shorts, or tight underwear should be avoided in general, but this is especially important during monsoon season as the high levels of humidity combined with tight clothing can lead to excessive sweating. This combination of tight clothes and humidity can cause rashes, vaginal infections, and urinary tract infections as there is reduced airflow and high retention of moisture in the area surrounding the vagina. Hence, it is beneficial to wear cotton underwear that is comfortable and can dry quickly, this will improve air circulation and be less irritating to the sensitive skin in that area.
Furthermore, monsoons bring the additional problem of clothes not drying easily, it is important to remember to not wear wet or damp clothes because they increase friction on the inside edges of the thighs, leading to possible skin infections and rashes. As a result, it serves as a breeding ground for a lot of bacteria and can increase the chances of infection.
Practice good menstrual hygiene
During the monsoon season, the best way to prevent contamination is to change sanitary pads every four hours, tampons every two hours, and menstrual cups every eight hours. Keep your vaginal area dry by using dry wipes instead of wet ones that contain harsh chemicals. If necessary, use plain toilet paper to remove any excess moisture.
Replace sanitary pads, cloths or tampons with menstrual cups
During the monsoon season, sanitary pads may increase the incidence of infections caused by rashes because of increased humidity. Tampons can absorb all the liquid in the vagina, causing the vagina to dry up, increasing the chances of infections. Menstrual cups are thus a viable alternative here as they do not add to the problem of excessive sweating and dampness in the vaginal area.
Avoid shaving too often in the monsoon
Intimate hygiene is largely determined by pubic hair, which has the function of reducing friction and preventing the spread of bacteria. It also works like a blanket that protects the vaginal area from bacterial invasion. Because of this, it is recommended to only shave the pubic hair when needed during the humid monsoon season, as it will prevent the spread of bacteria.
Ensure that the body is well hydrated
There is an excessive amount of humidity during the monsoon season, which causes the body to lose a great deal of salt and fluid. In order to help the body flush out toxins, you should always consume at least 2-3 liters of water every day. In doing so, you will remain hydrated. Additionally, adequate hydration helps to maintain the pH of the vaginal secretions, preventing the development of vaginal and urinary tract infections that tend to occur more commonly during the rainy season.
The reusable cloth dilemma
Last but not the least; considered by many to be an outdated method, the reusable cloth is still an unfortunate reality for millions of women across India, this is especially true for rural areas. Reusable cloth already carries with it a risk of higher infections and this is exacerbated during the monsoon season because such menstrual rough cloths can take longer to dry due to damp and wet weather. Hence, many women go for long hours without changing their rag cloth and this carries a series of risks as blood is a breeding ground for infections. If you use the same old cloth over and over again without washing it at regular intervals, it can lead to infections, and eventually, although rare, Septicemia or Toxic Shock Syndrome are also a possibility.