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Taboos about menstruation ‘endangering women’s health’

September 19, 2017 - Seun Olaniyan

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A “culture of silence” around vaginal bleeding, from puberty through to menopause, is failing the needs of women and girls and means many are unable to tell the difference between what is healthy and what is not.

Menstrual bleeding, researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health (MSPH), considered as a “neglected topic” in low and middle-income countries and a critical gap that researchers need to target.

In many low and middle-income countries, girls and women are faced with limited access to clean water and sanitation facilities. This is aside the challenges girls and women face in conducting daily activities while managing vaginal bleeding, including participating in school or work, going to the market or fetching water.

 

Menstruation still shrouded in secrecy

In fact, the management of menstruation in most societies is handled covertly, something girls are often instructed about at menarche. Menstruation doesn’t really have anything to do with s3xuality, yet the management of any vaginal bleeding is often similarly discreet.

Researchers in the journal BMJ Global Health suggests that the “culture of silence” around vaginal bleeding, from puberty through to menopause, is failing the needs of women and girls and means many are unable to tell the difference between what is healthy and what is not.

Girls and women experience numerous types of vaginal bleeding. This, according to Dr Chris Aimakhu, a consultant obstetric and gynaecologist, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State, include healthy reproductive processes that are normal, such as menstruation and bleeding after childbirth.

 

Reasons for vaginal bleeding

Some vaginal bleeding have been said to be abnormal and may be related to health conditions such as fibroids, endometriosis, polycystic ovaries and cancers.

This according to him includes “cases of vaginal bleeding in between menses and a menstrual flow that is more than 10 days. Menses which last more than 10 days may be due to an infection, fibroid, cancers, are abnormal. Also, bleeding after intercourse is common with cancers of the cervix, endometriosis and the womb.”

He added, “There is a condition called polycystic ovaries where the ovaries have a lot of fluid in them; they have hormonal imbalance. Women with this condition could menstruate twice in a year. They are unlike other women with regular menstrual cycle that know when it is safe to have s3xual intercourse and not get pregnant.”

Moreover, he pointed out that some cases of vaginal bleeding due to endometriosis occur if a woman has had a caesarean surgery.

Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the endometrium (womb), grows outside of the womb. It can grow on the ovaries, bowel, and in some rare cases has even been found outside of the pelvis such as the urinary bladder.

He added, “The most common reason why a woman could have endometriosis is if she has had a caesarean surgery. When closing up the womb during the surgery, they could have mistakenly implanted some of the cells lining the womb outside of it.”

These cells when present in other places in the body also proliferate and so are shed from time to time, resulting in bleeding. If these cells are in places such as the fallopian tube, the bleeding comes out with the normal menstruation.

 

Source: The Nigerian Tribune

 

Seun Olaniyan

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