Experiencing periods can be highly compromising to health and well-being, a recent review of the literature has found. The University of Exeter Medical School and Johns Hopkins University collated experiences from over 6,000 women and girls from low- and middle-income countries, identifying that stigma and period poverty hamper areas of life as diverse as education, psychological state and social inclusivity.
The systematic review of seventy-six studies highlighted that a combination of long-standing gender stereotypes, limited knowledge surrounding menstruation such as changes in hormone levels, menstruation practices, and shame and distress led to significant negative impacts on the lives of women and girls, most markedly in countries with poorer support systems.
a combination of long-standing gender stereotypes, limited knowledge surrounding menstruation, and shame and distress led to significant negative impacts on the lives of women and girls
The sociocultural context in many of the countries in which the studies reviewed were performed showed that menstruation is often a topic that involves little conversation, which has resulted in the view that it is ‘impure’ or ‘dirty’. Such views can perpetuate fear and embarrassment, which may result in negative health effects.
These findings aim to improve policy development for interventions that will improve women’s and girls’ health, to ensure that programmes aimed to combat stigma and lack of understanding do good.
Menstrual Hygiene Day will take place on 28 May 2019.