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If you’re eating a diet that’s rich in unhealthy carbs or if you’ve gained weight, your body will produce varying levels of certain hormones, shifting when you ovulate.

It is a well-known fact that ladies experience irregular period or abnormal flow at certain points in time. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that about 30 percent of women experience irregular periods.

Be that as it may, irregular periods are not something to worry about since they are not a sign of danger healthwise. But then, it is important to understand the reasons they happen and what the body is trying to say.

A woman will, on average, get her period for three to seven days once a month (every 30 days or so). After menstruating for several years, women tend to settle into a cycle where some women can even predict down to the hour when their periods will come.

However, a menstrual cycle would be considered irregular if there should be distortions in the normal twenty-eight days cycle pattern such that menstrual bleeding occurs more frequently than every twenty-one days or lasts longer than eight days.

1. Diet

Another common reason for a late or missing period is the food you eat and, more specifically, the weight you’re carrying.

If you’re eating a diet that’s rich in unhealthy carbs or if you’ve gained weight, your body will produce varying levels of certain hormones, shifting when you ovulate. The same goes for women as they lose weight.

2. Infections

Any infection ranging from std’s, STI’s, yeast infection, as well as illnesses, such as thyroid disorders, can cause irregular periods if blood levels of the thyroid hormone go too low or too high.

3. Stress

Stress is the most common cause of irregular periods. Cortisol, the stress hormone, has a direct impact on how much the two sex hormones: estrogen and progesterone are produced by the body.

If you have too much cortisol in your bloodstream, there is the tendency for the time and flow of your monthly cycle to change.

4. Polycystic ovary syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a medical condition that causes tiny cysts to form on ovaries which interfere with regular ovulation.

Women experiencing (PCOS) have almost always been recorded to deal with such anomaly in their menstrual cycles.

5. Over-exercising

Over-exercising like for instance, burning too much energy in the gym affects menstrual flow, if you burn too much energy during exercise there will be nothing left for the body to use at that time of the month.

6. Birth control pills

It takes months for the body to get used to hormones birth control pills release and this affects menstrual flow. As a matter of fact, birth control pills can actually make your periods lighter, or cause you to miss periods or have less or more frequent periods or even no periods at all.

7. Alcohol

Excessive intake of Alcohol can cause damages to the liver as well as affecting period- normalizing hormones. The liver helps regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle by metabolizing estrogen and progesterone where the liver is overworked or damage this affects the woman’s cycle.

In conclusion, other factors like early onset of menopause, cysts, and pregnancy could possibly disrupt the monthly flow.

However, it is advisable to seek medical help if you suspect that irregular flow could be as a result of other factors.

The Ghanaian market has introduced a revolutionary sanitary pad courtesy two female students from KNUST.

Miss Otoo-Quayson and Matilda Sampong decided to solve challenges women go through monthly by producing sanitary pads out of banana stems.

Miss Otoo-Quayson said, “According to statistics about 95% of girls in rural areas miss classes during this period and we thought to do something about this,”

Conferring to the young ladies aside from the sanitary pads from the west being expensive, they are also harmful to the reproductive organs. They said these sanitary pads are made out of plastic, dioxin (cellulose gel) and a little cotton.

Banana stem sanitary pad
Banana stem sanitary pad

Plastics found in sanitary pads are known to complicate embryonic development resulting in organ damage aside polluting the environment. Also, dioxin is listed by the WHO as a highly toxic environmental pollutant and has been linked to immune system damage and cancer.

Miss Otoo-Quayson and Matilda Sampong (KNUST students)
Miss Otoo-Quayson and Matilda Sampong (KNUST students)

Therefore, the new sanitary pads made from banana stems is very welcomed because not only is it environmental-safe alternative but it is also cheaper compared to conventional sanitary pads. According to the duo, these new sanitary pads are priced at just 2 cedis per pack which is comparably cheaper than conventional sanitary pads sold at 5 cedis per pack.

 

Credit: pulse.ng

Popularly referred to as Dr. Kel, Dr Kelechi is a resourceful Medical Doctor who possesses excellent clinical skills as well as good relational ability that has won the trust and endearment of her patients and the general public, both offline and online. A public health enthusiast, health communicator, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Advocate and content creator.

Dr. Kelechi is the convener of the “Healthertainer” brand which promotes total health and wellness across all social media platforms. The brand is renowned for stirring up trending conversations with regards to important and prevalent health issues and proffering solutions to the dire health challenges faced in Nigeria. She is also the founder of HEAL for Africa & Pay attention to her, two initiatives aimed at promoting health education and female hygiene. She is committed to promoting health literacy globally with verifiable successes in effective health communications and generating active participation and engagement among people. Kelechi currently works as a physician in the Kogi State Government House Clinic, Lokoja while she runs her platforms. The foremost health activist shares her inspiring story with me in this educative interview.

Childhood Influence

Yes, my childhood prepared me for what I do now. I grew up in an environment filled with love and excitement. I am the 10th child of my father and 3rd from my own mum. We didn’t lack anything growing up. (I am from a united and peaceful polygamous home. We were fondly called “The Okoro House of Commotion” because of our family escapades. LOL. such sweet memories). I had all the emotional, moral, spiritual and financial support any child needed, however, as I began to get older and see life from my own eyes, I realized that there was more to life. Interacting with other children from less privileged homes made me realized how lucky I was and also taught me to be sympathetic toward other people’s plight. Subconsciously, I grew up with a resolve to show affection to everyone around me, especially those who couldn’t afford the luxury.  Another period that prepared me for what I do today was going from a period of plenty to nothing. This was during my university days. Every family has their financial ups and downs and when we faced ours, I had a personal experience of what it meant to have nothing and my resolve to attain the capacity to always help the less privileged grew even stronger. It was during those trying times that my entrepreneurial spirit was awoken. I learned how to earn money not only for myself but to cater to the needs of others. Let’s just say, I have always taken it as a point of duty and privilege to be a source of hope, help, and inspiration to others.

Inspiration behind “Healthertainer” & “Heal for Africa”

The word “Healthertainer” was originally coined by me from two words I love and can totally relate with: Health and entertainment, representing my profession and my personality.  The brand was born out of my desire to make health palatable and relatable for the layman to understand. While in medical school, I noticed a communication barrier between doctors and patients which resulted in poor patient outcomes. Patients did not understand their conditions or the role they needed to play in ensuring better outcomes while managing their conditions. Also, I realized that many Nigerians are suffering and dying from preventable illnesses and complications of diseases which could have been prevented or even better managed if detected early. This was largely due to a lack of proper health information. I decided that when I became a doctor, I would simplify health information delivery and improve healthcare in Nigeria using the preventive approach. I am currently into clinical practice but spend a lot of my time using innovation and entertainment to drive health advocacy both offline and online. I use my social media platforms to promote health in an entertaining manner without losing the core message and more Nigerians are becoming more interested in learning about their health. My brand is barely 2 years old and it has grown a community of over 100,000 followers across all platforms. In less than 2 years, my brand has become the ‘go to’ when it comes to social media health advocacy. I can proudly say that the Healthertainer brand has blazed the trail for health influencers in Nigeria.  I  have inspired and mentored more medics to use social media to promote health and wellness.

Of over 180 million people in Nigeria, Only about 98.3 million persons use the internet. This means that the remaining 81.7 million will not have access to all the information available online. This informed my decision to start a non-profit organization (Heal for Africa Initiative) that carries out health advocacy in the local communities. Heal for Africa initiative was born out of the desire to reach out to the underserved populace and more impact lives. Before I started my own initiative, I had volunteered for other NGOs as a resource person and sponsor. I also did a lot of personal charity, randomly helping people in need. In 2017, I decided it was time to start my own thing and build a structure that would outlive me and also provide a bigger platform to grow more leaders and touch more lives.  HEAL stands for Health, Education, and Advocacy for better Livelihood. This acronym embodies our core aims and objectives. We are committed to “healing’ Africa, one community at a time. (www.healforafrica.org)

Being an advocate and working in public health sector

I must say it is not easy at all having to combine my 9 – 5 job, the Healthertainer Brand and directing the organization’s projects, but somehow, the work gets done. Having a supportive boss who also happens to be a member of the board of trustees, has helped a great deal to make things easy. Having a reliable team we call the “Heal Tribe” as hands and legs of the organization also keep our projects running even when I am not available. All this is time-consuming, but striking a balance and managing time effectively helps. Although sometimes it gets overwhelming, we are, however, working hard to develop a structure that can be self-sustaining.

Impact of “Pay Attention to her” Initiative

“Pay Attention to Her (PATH) project focuses on Reproductive Health outreaches for adult women; menstrual hygiene management and sexual health outreaches for adolescents girls and females in their early adulthood and Sexual Health outreaches for adolescent boys and males in their early adulthood (Pay Attention To Him). On the 28th of May, 2018, we launched the PATH School Tour to empower girls in public schools and rural areas. During this exercise, they are enlightened on their role as nation builders in addition to sexual health education and menstrual hygiene management. All participants are given free sanitary pads and personal hygiene products ( Soap, liquid antiseptic, toothpaste, tissue paper, deodorant, etc). We also enroll them into a network we call the “Big Sister” network so that we can have a sustained communication with the girls.  So far, over 2,000 girls in 3 public schools have benefitted from this exercise.  The experience has been fulfilling. After each program, the immediate impact is palpable. The girls gain a new sense of belonging and self-confidence. You can visibly feel their excitement and gratitude as they finally find a safe place to seek more knowledge about the biological and emotional changes that come with puberty. The reassurance of a brighter future as they interact with our female guest speakers. Our programs have attracted the likes of the Secretary to the Kogi State Government, Mrs Folashade Ayoade, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mrs Petra Akinti Onyegbule,  Mrs. Bolanle Amupitan, Kogi Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Sanda Musa, Special Senior assistant to the governor on Women and Child Development, and other prominent and inspiring role models in the community.This year, we will be rolling out more initiatives to cater to the women, adolescent boys and young adults in line with our goals, vision, and mission.

Challenges

After our lectures, we gift the girls with disposable pads for just one or two menstrual cycles. That is not enough. How do we guarantee that they have sanitary materials for the next? We want to offer more sustainable options, but they come with challenges. The reusable cloth pads are more sustainable but the challenge that comes with this is the lack of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) facilities in public schools and rural areas.  Another option is the use of Menstrual Cups, the challenge here would be low acceptability due to cultural and religious beliefs.

Our society doesn’t see the need to talk about menstrual hygiene. It is perceived as a taboo or a filthy experience that should be spoken about only behind closed doors. As a result of this, a lot of young girls go through their initial experiences with so much confusing and guilt.  Another major challenge we face is funding for projects. 90 percent of funds used for projects are personal. The other 10 % comes from a close network of friends/ family and also from my online community. We have plans to improve fundraising efforts via sales of branded items, membership and sourcing for grants to help us make more impact this year.

Other Projects

Heal for Africa has another project called HEAL THE SLUMS project. People living in the slums are denied basic rights such as good food, healthcare, shelter and potable water which makes live unpleasant for them. This project is dedicated to this group of people to show them affection during festivity periods. The Heal The Slums project is also an avenue to interact with community leaders and other stakeholders to conduct a needs assessment around basic amenities and discussing means of meeting those needs. It is our way of reaching out to underserved communities to show affection and inspire hope. So far, 4 Communities in Kogi State have benefitted from this program. Outside the hospital and civic space, I do public speaking, compering corporate events and volunteering with other organizations to drive other SDGs.

Last year, I partnered with another brilliant Doctor, Chukwu Analo on the “Health Simplex’ brand. Health Simplex is our own little innovative contribution to the actualization of the Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 17:  for Good health and wellbeing and Partnership for the goals. The mission is very simple, Incorporate Information and communication technology and Health as to provide good health for all. This is a project to look out for this year.  (www.healthsimplex.com). So you see, I am a serial hustler. Lol.  I do a lot of “small small” businesses here and there to augment my salary as a doctor so I can keep funding my passion.

Reward

My greatest reward is the satisfaction and recommendations I get from doing what I do. I really didn’t know how impactful my work was until people started giving testimonies of how my life of impact has spurred them to start their own initiatives.  Also, putting smiles on the faces of our beneficiaries, inspiring hope and having so many young people look up to me has been a source of joy and motivation for me. In barely 2 years of my service to humanity, I have seen how much impact these little acts of kindness here and there can ignite in other people’s lives and I want to keep being a vessel of impact in my community.I am motivated by the results so far and I want to keep doing more. Another great motivation for me is the impact it has on my own life. I am becoming a better person and enjoying the fulfillment and peace of mind that comes with supporting others.

High rate of depression & why Government should intervene

I think depression seems to be on the rise because more people are beginning to admit that they suffer from it.  The problem has always been there, but poorly diagnosed.  Although there is still a high level of stigmatization associated with depression these days people are more open about it. Another reason is that people are allowing the pressure of the modern world to get to them. The high expectations from society and the quest for fame, luxury and money are also driving a lot of youth especially, to anxiety, depression and eventually suicide.  Depression is no respecter of socioeconomic status, Rich people get depressed too, but poverty and scanty livelihood have also been implicated as risk factors for depression. What the government can do is to improve the economy and also help spread awareness on mental health issues. Expert management of depression can be expensive so the government should support.

On giving up

Many times I have felt like giving up. Many times I have felt frustrated, underachieved and underappreciated for all the hard work I put in. But, in my lowest moments, testimonies from people I have helped indirectly or directly spur me back into action.

I remember when my first Instagram account was hacked at 28,000 followers, I was downcast. I didn’t know where to start. In fact, I decided to throw in the towel, but I couldn’t because people kept on calling to find out when I was coming back online, narrating how my page had helped them in one way or the other. I had no choice than to start all over. The funny thing is, when I started all over, that was when clients started requesting my service. I had paid my dues and it was time to reap what I had sown. I started earning a lot from my Healthertainer platforms, working with local and international health brands. It felt good to earn money while living my passion.

Who and What Inspire me to be better….

I am inspired by every strong woman out there who are excelling in their various spheres of life despite the odds against them. I am inspired by people like Oprah Winfrey, Taraji P Henson who kept believing in themselves and pursuing their dreams till they had their big breakthrough. I spent 11 years in medical school ( Studying medicine in Nigeria is a major struggle, story for another day, I promise) and graduated at the age of 28, I felt as if I had wasted so many years and I didn’t have much time to leave a meaningful life. I can proudly say that I have achieved so much between the age of 29 till date (I turned 32 on the 2nd of February, 2019). I haven’t gotten my big breakthrough, but I have activated the process that will get me there.I have a lot of young people who look up to me. Small me, and I am already a mentor to many, This inspires me to live a life worthy of emulation.  I don’t want to be anybody’s role model, I do not want to be put on a pedestal, I just want to groom more young people to aspire to do better than me and be a source of inspiration to the next generation.

One thing I wish I could change in the Health sector

I would like to talk to medical students and prepare them for life after medical school. All we learned in medical school was how to save other people’s lives but not how to survive in the real whole. We need more than medical knowledge to survive after medical school. The whole is changing. I want to educate medical students on the need to develop other aspects of their lives and also equip themselves with survival skills that are not in the school syllabus. Medicine in Nigeria is no longer a “rag to riches” story, gone are the days when you graduate from medical school, save house job money and buy a “Camry I don buy my own”. After the internship, the real struggle continues. In a country like Nigeria where doctors pay is not commensurate to the service rendered, extra skills are important for survival. I have been able to survive the system so far because of my entrepreneurial and social media skills.

Being a  Woman of Rubies 

I guess I have earned the “woman of rubies” title because a lot of people recommended me on your platform (Smiles). Seriously, I am honored and humbled to be recognized as a woman of substance. A woman who should be celebrated for her contributions towards making the world a better place. Women of Rubies are women whose stories are inspiring hope and transformation across the globe. Women who have managed to maintain a sane work-life balance as they voyage the path of self-discovery and actualization. Women who are supporting and encouraging other women by sharing their hope-inspiring stories and practical tools to achieve their dreams. I believe that my life and activities in the last few years have depicted these values. Ruby is a precious gemstone that epitomizes passion, confidence, courage, determination, adventure, and vitality.  The ruby stone is also known for its durability, hardness, and luster.  I can proudly say I am a woman of Rubies because I share these same attributes with the Ruby stone.

Appreciation of Female doctors In Nigeria

Doctors are not appreciated generally in Nigeria, both male and female. I don’t think there is any marginalization of the female doctors in particular.

Health Nuggets

“Women need to make their health a priority. An unhealthy  woman cannot run her home effectively”

“Regular health checks can save your life.”

“Screen and get vaccinated against  the Human papillomaVirus (HPV) vaccine  that causes Cervical Cancer.”

“Adopt a healthy lifestyle and dietary habits that reduce your risks of developing other cancers.“

“ Learn how to do the self-breast examination and always check your breasts for changes that may be symptoms of breast cancer. Early detection is key.’

“MOVE! A sedentary lifestyle predisposes you to obesity and heart diseases. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day five times a week. Don’t wait till you enroll in a gym. If you can’t brisk-Walk, skip, cycle, run or jog around your neighborhood, JUST DANCE IN YOUR LIVING ROOM.”

Dr Bamidele Iwalokun, a medical researcher, on Thursday condemned the use of tissue papers as sanitary pads by women, saying it could lead to severe health complications.

Sex during menstruation
Sex during menstruation

Iwalokun, who is the Head, Immunology and Vaccinology Research Department, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

He said that some tissue papers were products of waste paper, and such tissue papers were not hygienic for draining blood during menstruation.

The habit of using tissue paper in form of sanitary pads is a poor hygiene practice on the part of any woman.

Because no health policy has supported the use of tissue paper as sanitary pad, so its a bad behavior and should not be adopted health wise.

It doesnt have any credibility of use. This should be a way of informing women that it carries a serious public health risk.

The practice places such women at risk of having infection which may pass through the vagina cavity and enter the blood stream, thereby having a serious health impact, Iwalokun said.

The researcher said that the use of tissue paper during menstruation could affect the reproductive organs that could lead to other complications in life.

Sometimes it may be chronic infections that may not give serious symptoms to warrant going to the hospital, but it is indirectly damaging the reproductive system or that pathway.

One of them is the Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), many women do not know they have PID until when issues of infertility comes up and untreated PID is a major cause of infertility.

It also depends on the pathogens that are coming from such paper, so it is important to identify the types of pathogen that are isolated from such tissue papers.

There must be quality study that will show the various types of pathogens, in order to identify the type of damage it can cause.

However, women should abstain from the practice of using tissue paper as sanitary pads, in order to avoid such health complications.

Women should always adopt a proper hygiene at all times, especially during the monthly menstrual period, he said.

 

 

Credit: Pulse

Girls who live in less developed areas barely have access to these essential commodities while women who are low-income earners are finding it difficult to buy them.

Using the hashtag, #EndThe9jaTaxOnPads, these women are sharing their stories online to urge the government to end the tax on sanitary pads so as to make them more accessible.

See some of their tweets below:

SULEIMAN A. MUHAMMAD@SAMskilllz10

No girl child deserves to use rags or tissue because she can’t afford sanitary pads.
No girl child deserves to wear one pad throughout a day because she want to manage.
Sanitary pads should be affordable for every woman

 

 

 

 

 

Credit: Fab Woman

 

Reports from a UNICEF research found that 65% of females in the Kibera slum in Kenya, the largest urban slum in Africa, have at one point traded sex for sanitary products.

The girls are forced to have sex with older men because it is the only way they can access sanitary products due to poverty and the stigma surrounding menstruation.

(Photo: ThisisAfrica)

The research also reports that 54% of Kenyan girls still have problems accessing feminine hygiene products and 22% of schoolgirls still have to buy their own even though the Kenyan government signed a bill into law last year that says girls in public schools will receive free sanitary towels.

90,000 girls in 335 schools in Kenya now have access to safe and clean facilities because of that bill, but there’s clearly still more work to be done. Andrew Trevett, UNICEF Kenya chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, hypothesizes two reasons why girls have to trade sex for sanitary products:

“One obvious reason is poverty – girls and women don’t have the financial means to buy sanitary products. But there is also the issue of supply.

Transactional sex for sanitary items happens because the items are not available in girl’s villages.

In the countryside, girls are faced with no transport and can’t afford a bus fare. In some remote villages, there are no roads and there isn’t a bus service.”

UNICEF found that 7% of women use old cloths, chicken feathers, mud and newspapers in the place of pads or tampons — while some dig a hole in the ground and sit there for days till their period passes.

UNICEF also found that only 50% of girls felt they could openly discuss menstruation at home.

 

Credit: konbini.com

A report from UNESCO estimates that one in ten girls in Sub-Saharan Africa misses school during her menstrual cycle due her inability to access affordable sanitary products, and conversations about periods are almost an abominable topic of discussion in Nigeria. To complicate that further, because our country is in a recession, the prices of everything, including sanitary products, has doubled.

It was one such discussion that inspired Oghenekaro (Karo) Omu, a social media & brand specialist, to start the Sanitary Aid for Nigerian Girls initiative.

(Photo: S.A.N.G.)

(Photo: S.A.N.G)

On the 15th of January 2017, Karo learned that the prices of sanitary products had increased by more than 100% and she immediately thought of how it would impact the underprivileged girls who had barely been able to get access to these products. And she decided to do something about it. She sent out a tweet

As with most initiatives, once she started, she realized that it was a bigger problem than she’d imagined. So she put together a team of 6: Gabriella Scott, Cynthia Ndeche, Tolani Thomas, Alexa Chukwumah, Ifeyinwa Mbanugo and Olamide Odukoya; with a group of other eager volunteers. The initiative raised over N800,000 within a week, from crowd-sourcing on Twitter alone.

(Photo: S.A.N.G)

(Photo: S.A.N.G)

Karo and her team have so far raised N1.3 million and distributed sanitary pads to over 1,500 women and girls across 3 schools and an IDP camp in Jos.

This coming week, the initiative has plans to give sanitary products to at least 1,000 women and girls in Borno. And at the end of the second quarter of the year, the Sanitary Aid for Nigerian Girls initiative intends to reach up to 15,000 girls in Lagos, Ogun, Abuja, Plateau and Borno.

Speaking to Konbini about her future plans for the initiative, Karo says:

“In the future, we intend to make sanitary education part of communities especially low income ones that don’t have the exposure. Our goal is to reach up to a million girls with both sanitary hygiene education & free pads.”

“We’ve approached brands to partner with us and some of them like Microsoft have been very interested in coming on board.

(Photo: S.A.N.G)

(Photo: S.A.N.G)

This isn’t Karo’s first humanitarian effort, she’s been very involved in providing aid and food to IDP camps across Nigeria. On her experience on this journey, Karo says:

“I’ve always wanted to do things for other people. Every project is different. I used to want to have everything in place before starting but this project was different.”

“I was determined to do it with or without help. Imagine my surprise when everyone that heard about the project saw the relevance.

“Every girl we reach is a big deal because their stories are different. We get asked all sorts of questions. For some girls it’s their first time owning a pack of pads.”

The initiative holds Sanitary drives every month for willing Nigerians to come and donate sanitary products and/or money; and sign up to volunteer to work with the initiative.

Subsequently, Karo hopes to have joint projects with willing participants to reshape education for the children from lower income homes, and be more involved in social advocacy projects that help improve the lives of the most vulnerable people – children, women and the aged – in our society, in Nigeria.

The initiative can be reached by email or via Twitter and Instagram.

(Photo: S.A.N.G)

(Photo: S.A.N.G)

(Photo: S.A.N.G)
Source: Konbini