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Global Research Update #40

Menstruation in a Global Context: Addressing Policy and Practice

On-line, free introduction to menstruation by Columbia University.

Prevalence of common urogenital infections among menstrual cup users

Ghanshamnani et al., Indian Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Research, 2021

A study of 309 MC users in India through a random self- reported questionnaire survey to determine whether urogenital infections were affected by MC use. ‘The results demonstrate lower prevalence of symptoms of urogenital infections among women when compared to their previously used menstrual product. Symptoms of urogenital infections did not affect the acceptance and continuance of menstrual cups usage’.

Menstrual Hygiene Management Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic in Nigeria’s Epicentre: The Reality of Girls and Women in a Low-Income Community
Olawade et al., Int. Journal of Tropical Disease and Health, 2021

Study involving 130 participants (females aged 14-40), in a low-income community in Nigeria, to assess access to menstrual hygiene materials, including whether COVID-19 had any influence. Materials included sanitary pads, tissue paper, cloth napkins, old sanitary towels and newspaper.  Findings included that about half reported being unable to afford products, about a third reported this was worse since the beginning of COVID-19, and 64% reported having a vaginal-reproductive tract infection in the last 3 months

Sexual and reproductive health of incarcerated women in French Guiana: a qualitative approach

Deboscker et al., International Journal of Prisoner Health, 2021

A study involving 14 adult French-speaking women in French Guiana, incarcerated for at least 4 months. The study involved a wide range of health issues, but highlighted problems related to menstrual cycle disorders and insecurity related to menstruation.

Literature review irregular menstrual cycle based on BMI and body fat percentage

Hikma et al., Indonesian Journal of Health Sciences and Midwifery 2021

The review sought to assess whether there is a relationship between nutritional status and menstrual cycle disorders. A total of 749 literary works were included. The conclusion is that menstrual cycle disorders have a significant relationship with body mass index and body fat percentage.

Provision of Adolescent Health Care in Resource-Limited Settings: Perceptions, Practices and Training Needs of Ugandan Health Care Workers

Miller et al., Children and Youth Services Review, 2021

A mixed methods study involving 36 health care workers in rural Uganda. There was no seeming focus on menstrual health, but 35 (96%) expressed a need for further training in order to become more comfortable teaching issues related to sexual and reproductive health.

Menstrual hygiene products: A practice evaluation

Parent et al., Gynecology, Journal of Gynecology, Obstetrics and Human Reproduction, 2021

A study from France involving self-reporting by 1153 patients concerning the products they used, the factors determining their choices, knowledge of potential risks  and sources of information. Disposable sanitary pads were preferred by 81% of patients, menstrual tampons 45.6%. Newer products were less frequently preferred: washable sanitary pads (4.4%) menstrual panties (1.7%) and menstrual cups (9.4%). However, among those (8.1%) who had recently changed, these products were most popular because they were considered more ecological and less harmful to health. 81.8% considered hygiene products as a health risk. Only 13.6% said they had discussed with a health professional yet 91.2% wanted more information.

Communication approaches in promoting menstrual hygiene awareness in public schools in Kuje and Abuja municipal area councils, Federal Capital Territory Kolade, 2021

A master’s dissertation with a mixed methods approach from Nigeria examining knowledge and attitudes toward MHM. It describes different approaches used, for example counsellors to disseminate knowledge, or gender assemblies. The study also describes that the lack of menstrual cycle knowledge results in poor results in other areas of SRHR (e.g. unintended pregnancy).

Menstrual Management Considerations in the Space Environment

Steller et al., REACH, 2021

Article exploring SRHR issues, including menstrual management, for people working in spaceflights.

Safe Destinations, and Happy Tourists. Guideline For Gender Equality, Disability, and Social Inclusion in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in the Community in Tourism destinations, Indonesia

Dwipayanti et al., International Water Centre, 2021

Suggested guidelines to make tourism more inclusive, e.g. regarding gender, disability

Adolescent boy’s attitudes toward menstruation and implications for adolescent girl’s access to education in Tanzania

Benshaul-Tolonen, PLOSOne 2021

Primary school attendance is close to gender parity in sub-Saharan Africa, but in secondary school only 8.8 girls attend for every 10 boys. Policy response has focused on sanitary materials and education, less on period teasing. This study in 4 secondary schools in Tanzania, indicates that boys and girls report high levels of teasing, that it affects girls’ attendance and participation. Boys are pressured by peers and home-sphere social norms, but state they do not condone it. This might be leveraged in future research and policy interventions.

Comparison between menstrual cups: first step to categorization and improved safety

Manley et al., Women’s Health, 2021

Market analysis shows 4% women in the United Kingdom (UK) use menstrual cups as their preferred menstrual hygiene product. The study examines 14 different brands, and finds that, although specifications (e.g. softness, capacity) vary greatly, this is not indicated on packaging etc, and suggests this should be remedied.

Adolescent Girls in the Climate Crisis: Empowering young women through feminist participatory action research in Zambia and Zimbabwe

Tanner et al., Plan International, 2021

The study notes that climate change impacts boys and girls differently – water shortage in schools during droughts imply menstrual hygiene is more difficult, menstruating girls cannot cross flooded rivers.

“The weather is not good”: exploring the menstrual health experiences of menstruators with and without disabilities in Vanuatu

Wilbur J et al The Lancet Regional Health, 2021

A mixed method population study in Vanuatu, involving 164 menstruators with and 169 without disabilities (aged 10-45). Menstruators with disabilities were five times more likely to use different bathing facilities to others in the household, nearly twice as likely to miss social activities, and three times more likely to eat alone during menstruation. Menstrual restrictions were widespread for all, yet they reported less interference of menstruation on participation, possibly because they are accustomed to greater participation restrictions than others.

Teacher Perceptions of and Experiences with Student Menstruation in the School Setting

AL Huseth-Zosel et al., The Journal of school health, 2021

209 teachers in a US school district participated in an online survey about their perceptions of adolescent school-based menstruation experiences. Teachers perceived students’ school-based menstruation experiences to be mostly negative, stressful, embarrassing, and focused on concealment, and a distraction to learning. They responded with emotional support and providing menstrual products purchased by teachers.

Buksmärtor och menstruations-rubbningar hos tonårsflickor – vem tar hand om dem?(stomach pain and menstrual disorders in teenage girls – who takes care of them?);

Ansved et al., Barnläkaren (the Peditatrician)

Swedish pediatricians note that afflicted girls are shuttled between gynecologists (who say ‘she is too young’) and pediatricians (who say ‘we know nothing about menstrual disorders and Dysmenorrhea.

Period poverty: menstrual health hygiene issues among adolescent and young Venezuelan migrant women at the northwestern border of Brazil

Soeiro et al.,  Reproductive Health, 2021

The study included 309 women, mean age was 17.7 years, living on the streets, half of the participants who menstruate (46.4%) did not receive any hygiene kits, did not feel safe to use the toilets.

Menstrual Dignity and the Bar Exam

Karin et al., UCDavis Law Review

The article examines present regulations regarding menstruation in bar exams: e.g. that products must be carried in clear plastic bags, or that menstruators may not be able to access bathrooms.

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