PPE and Periods

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When the whole nation was under the threat of a global pandemic, doctors across the country came forward as frontline warriors. The frontline workers included women too who worked in grilling shifts for 6-8 hours. Wearing a PPE kit and working in a humid environment for 6-8 hours has always been tough for healthcare workers. But the condition is worse for menstruating healthcare workers who menstruate dealing with their periods while donning personal protective equipment(PPE).

PPE kits consist of all coveralls, including masks, covers, face shields, gloves, goggles, and rubber boots. Some guidelines need to be followed while donning and doffing a PPE due to its exposure to the virus and the possibility of spreading it. Due to the risk of being infected by the virus, doctors were not allowed to take a break in the middle of work, imposing many restrictions. 

The condition got more severe for mensurating healthcare workers as they have to make many sacrifices. They are not allowed to use the washroom between their duty; they are restricted from taking anything inside. They go to work empty-handed, not even carrying a sanitary napkin to ensure that they are not taking infections back home.

They are not allowed to use washrooms until their duty is over. There is no possibility of using the restroom every hour, even during the periods. They have to suffer through hot and humid conditions in a single pad, which also puts them at risk of urinary tract infection and other bacterial infections.

Due to the shortage of staff, these healthcare workers cannot even take a menstruation leave. In these challenging times, frontline healthcare workers make sacrifices for their patients at the risk of their own health. So it becomes important for the hospital staff to look after their menstrual health and ensure that their menstrual hygiene is met.

According to a study conducted by UNICEF in April 2020, it focused on menstrual health and hygiene of women during COVID-19.

It elaborated the methods of safe and accessible WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) during menstruation. This brief even emphasized the mental and psychological health of the healthcare workers, talking about the chances of women workers developing stress and anxiety.

Due to immense work pressure and responsibilities, professionals who mensurate have started facing many problems like PCOS, anxiety, etc.

The women working in health and social care are most likely to be affected. Also,72% of professionals were facing a negative impact on their mental health due to COVID-19 situations.

Adequate facilities and resources must be arranged for the menstruating health workers by providing them menstrual hygiene material like sanitary napkins, tampons, and menstrual cups. Their hygiene should not be kept as an option but as a priority. Hospitals and quarantine centers should ensure that proper sanitization is done and no one compromises on their personal hygiene; hence adequate supplies of the necessary products should be made accordingly.

In these tough times where everyone is affected somehow, doctors have come forward as warriors. Also, the menstruating women who have made sacrifices during their duty deserve our respect and support. Despite all these situations, women have again proved themselves as warriors and have come out as glorious.

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