A new research review draws on studies examining women’s and girls’ narratives to understand their experiences of menstruation. A team of researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, University of Exeter and Femme International, a menstrual health non-governmental organization, reviewed qualitative studies to assess the state of menstruation in low- and middle-income countries. The review included 76 studies that involved interviews or focus group discussions about menstruation with over 6,000 women and adolescent girls from 35 countries.
The review, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, found that studies reported negative effects of poor menstrual experiences on physical health, well-being, education and participation in daily life. The findings support recent resistance to an overemphasis on the provision of menstrual products, such as sanitary pads, as the ‘solution’ to menstrual difficulties.
Dr. Julie Hennegan, a research associate in the Bloomberg School’s department of environmental health and engineering, is the lead author.
The authors suggest that identified contributors, such as water and sanitation, the behavioral expectations placed on women and girls to conceal menstruation from others and the availability of social support should be considered even when they are not the primary focus of a policy or menstrual health program, as they are likely to influence outcomes. “These influences deserve more attention,” notes Dr. Hennegan.Friday Letter Submission