HEALTH

Your Body

Female Reproductive Organs:

Female reproductive organ is divided into two parts: Inner reproductive organs and Outer reproductive organs.

Inner Female Reproductive Organs:

The cervix  is the lower part of the uterus that extends into the top of the vagina. An opening in the cervix, called the os, connects the vagina and uterus. Menstrual blood passes out of the uterus through the os; and semen passes through it to the uterus. The cervix produces a secretion (cervical mucus) that aids sperm in entering the uterus. The cervical mucus changes during the menstrual cycle; women can learn to identify the fertile period according to the characteristics of the mucus. During childbirth, the cervix stretches, allowing the baby to pass through.

The uterus is a hollow, muscular organ that rests above the bladder. It is shaped like an upside-down pear. Its lining (called the endometrium) thickens with blood and tissue during the first part of the ovulation–menstrual cycle. If no embryo implants itself, the lining breaks down, becoming the menstrual flow. If an embryo implants itself, a fetus develops in the uterus.

The fallopian tubes  are two narrow, 4-to-5-inch-long tubes through which the egg travels from the ovary to the uterus and in which the egg may be fertilized.

The ovaries, two organs, each the size of an almond or a grape, store the immature eggs in follicles, produce and secrete female hormones (estrogen and progesterone), and produce and release mature eggs.

Outer Female Reproductive Organs:

The vulva consists of all the visible external genital organs of a woman:

The clitoris is a small organ, shaped like a flower bud with a bit of tissue forming a small “hood.” The only function of the clitoris is to give girls and women sexual pleasure; it contains a rich network of nerve endings for sensation. During sexual arousal and during orgasm, the clitoris (and the genitalia in general) engorge and fill with blood, causing the clitoris to become erect. Women may feel vaginal contractions during orgasm.

The labia majora or outer lips  cover and protect the vaginal opening. The labia minora or inner lips also swell during sexual arousal.

The vagina is an elastic muscular canal, leading from the vulva to the cervix and uterus. When a woman is sexually aroused, the vagina produces lubrication. It has few nerve endings and is therefore not highly sensitive. In vaginal intercourse, the penis penetrates the vagina. If the man ejaculates, semen enters the vagina and travels through the cervix into the uterus and fallopian tubes, where fertilization can occur if an egg is present. Menstrual blood leaves the body through the vagina, as does the baby when it is born. The vagina cleans itself and does not need to be washed out. Women should not insert substances to dry or tighten the vagina; such substances can be harmful.

Sexual and Reproductive Health:

Menstruation, often known as periods or means is a natural process that every woman goes through. Menstruation is a normal biological process and a key sign of reproductive health and is a woman’s monthly bleeding and completely normal.

Most of us go through our periods very secretively and don’t really bother to figure out if our practices are hygienic or not. At times, we may wear the same napkin for a whole day which is very unhealthy. Listed are the menstruation hygiene tips:

Choose your method of sanitation. Today there are a number of ways including the use of sanitary napkins, tampons and menstrual cups to stay clean. The best tip here is to try and use one brand for one type of protection for a while to know if it helps your needs. Frequent switching between brands can make you uncomfortable since brands are as unique as you, they suit everyone differently.

Change regularly. Menstrual blood – once it has left the body – gets contaminated with the body’s innate organisms. This rule applies for even those days when you don’t have much bleeding, since your pad is still damp and will have organisms from your vagina, sweat from your genitals, etc. When these organisms remain in a warm and moist place for a long time they tend to multiply and can lead to conditions like urinary tract infection, vaginal infections and skin rashes. There are a few instances where your sanitary napkin or tampon might not be completely used – usually on days when you have a lesser flow – but you must change at regular intervals.

Wash yourself regularly. When you menstruate, the blood tends to enter tiny spaces like the skin between your labia or crust around the opening of the vagina and you should always wash this excess blood away. This practice also tends to beat bad odour from the vaginal region. So, it is important to wash your vagina and labia (the projecting part of female genitals) well before you change into a new pad. If you cannot wash yourself before you change make sure to wipe off the areas using toilet paper or tissue.

Don’t use soaps or vaginal hygiene products. The vagina has its own cleaning mechanism that works in a very fine balance of good and bad bacteria. Washing it with soap can kill the good bacteria making way for infections. So, while it is important to wash yourself regularly during this time, all you need to use is some warm water. You can use soap on the external parts but do not use it inside your vagina or vulva.

Discard your used sanitary product properly. It is essential to discard your used napkins or tampons properly because they are capable of spreading infections, will smell very foul. Wrapping it well before discarding it ensures that the smell and infection is taken care of. It is advised not to flush the pad or tampon down the toilet since they are capable of forming a block and can cause the toilet to back up.

Beware of a pad rash. A pad rash is something that you might experience during a period of heavy flow. It usually occurs when the pad has been wet for a long time and rubs along the thighs causing it to chaff. To prevent this from occurring, try to stay dry during your periods. Apply an antiseptic ointment, after a bath and before bed – this will heal the rash and prevent further chaffing. If it gets worse do visit your doctor who will be able to prescribe you a medicated powder that can keep the area dry.

Use only one method of sanitation at a time. Some women who have heavy flow during their periods tend to use either (i) two sanitary pads, (ii) a tampon and sanitary pad (iii) a sanitary pad along with a piece of cloth. This might seem like a good idea, but it actually is not and might lead to rashes, infections and in the case of tampons even TSS.

Have a bath regularly. Bathing not only cleanses your body but also gives you a chance to clean your private parts well. It also helps relieve menstrual cramps, backaches, helps improve your mood and makes you feel less bloated. To get some relief from backaches and menstrual cramps, just stand under a shower of warm water that is targeted towards your back or abdomen. You will feel much better at the end of it.

Vagina/White discharge: On some days, you might have noticed a white patch- either dry or wet- on your underwear. If you have noticed so and have been shying or panicking about the same, don’t do so anymore. Vaginal discharge is most often a normal and regular occurrence. However, there are certain types of discharge that can indicate an infection. Abnormal discharge may be yellow or green, chunky in consistency, or have a foul odour. Abnormal discharge is usually caused by yeast or bacterial infection. If you notice any discharge that looks unusual or smells foul, you should contact Meri Sathi soon.

Growing breasts: Breasts are considered one of the beauty elements of a woman and as a woman, one should always be confident about her breast. Every girl’s breasts grow and develop differently.  You may be wondering if yours will ever grow, or wish that they would stop growing! Women’s breasts come in many shapes and sizes. There is no perfect shape or size for breasts. Normal breasts can be large or small, smooth or lumpy, and light or dark. The time that the women start noticing their growing breasts depends from one person to the other.

Masturbation: The idea of masturbation is more open with men than that of women but that does not mean that a woman masturbating is wrong. Apart from health reasons, it is also the safest and easiest way of satisfying one self. The benefits of masturbation are a good night’s sleep, healthier, happier and enjoy sex more.

Know your Rights

The right to health care and health protection includes the right to the highest quality of health care and the right to be free from traditional practices that are harmful to health.

 

To know more about Sexual and Reproductive Health call our Meri Saathi Free Helpline numbers 16600119756 or 9801119756, Sun-Fri 7:00 am to 7:00 pm