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Bringing wonder out of the closet

Bringing wonder out of the closet
Highlights

As more and more Indian women are opening up about the hush-hush topic on feminine hygiene, the home-grown...

As more and more Indian women are opening up about the hush-hush topic on feminine hygiene, the home-grown markets have seen a substantial growth in intimate hygiene product brands in recent years. Anupriya Kapur, the co-founder of feminine hygiene brand Imbue Natural has a quick chat about intimate hygiene .

What has been the traditional ways in which Indian women took care of their sexual, menstrual and reproductive hygiene?

An urban woman is more likely to take care of her sexual, menstrual and reproductive hygiene in a fairly informed manner than their rural counterparts, depending on reasons such as economic status, her personal preferences and understanding of the products easily available around.

Traditionally, women were not that aware of sexual and reproductive hygiene, as reusable pieces of cloth or cotton being used for periods. In addition, because women don't have enough information and are afraid of talking to people about it, they tend to not practice intimate hygiene beyond soap and water, which might be more harmful because of dryness.

What are the current loopholes that modern Indian women face in their intimate hygiene routines and practices?

Lack of awareness and availability of accurate information is the biggest problem that we face as a society. There is a lot of shame and stigma attached around woman's anatomy. It's only now that urban India has started talking about menstruation and witnessing advertisements of sanitary napkins.

Even then only about 18 per cent women have access to sanitary hygiene. The public toilets are grossly unhygienic. There is no proper system in place to dispose of sanitary products. There is lack of privacy to ensure proper care.

Coming to intimate hygiene routine, a lot of women still believe that cleaning the vagina from the inside with water or other solutions is important. However, vagina is self-cleaning and force-cleaning can cause infections. It's only the vulva (external genital area) which needs care. Chemical based washes are harmful, used in the long run.

What are the diseases/problems that can arise from poor feminine health?

Lack of proper hygiene can alter the pH level of the vaginal region. This causes a change in the microflora of the area, thus increasing the risk of bacterial vaginosis, genital itching, pustules over genitalia, UTI and yeast infections.

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