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Global Research Update #44

Menstrual health and period poverty in Lebanon during economic crisis: A qualitative analysis of the challenges; Hassan et al., Frontiers in Reproductive health, 2022

This study from Lebanon ‘aims to explore stakeholder’s perspective on the Lebanese public health policy regarding menstrual health, the evolving challenges it faces in the context of the current economic collapse, and to suggest recommendations for solutions…‘Data collection was done via online semi-structured interviews with stakeholders from the public and private sectors of the Lebanese healthcare system in addition to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and physicians’.

Perbandingan Hygiene Menstruasi Pada Wanita Usia Reproduksi Antara yang menggunakan Pembalut Dengan Menstrual Cup; M Rusdiana, A Fauzi – Risenologi, 2022

Study from Indonesia, of the type ´non-experimental research and comparative research design’. The study seeks to compare hygiene levels for pads and menstrual cups. Based on the results of the study the average value of hygiene in sanitary napkin users was 38.80, and the average value of hygiene using menstrual cups was 41.00, statistical test results p-value 0.021<0.05. The conclusion show there are differences in results hygiene on the use of sanitary pad with menstrual cups, where the average results obtained hygiene menstrual menstrual cups are better than hygiene on those using sanitary pad.

Kansiime et al., (2022): Menstrual health interventions, schooling and mental health problems among Ugandan students (MENISCUS): Study protocol for a school-based cluster-randomised trial. Research Square

The ‘innovative approach is in evaluating a multi-component school-based menstrual health intervention addressing both physical and emotional aspects of menstrual health, and using a “training of trainers” model designed to be sustainable within schools. If found to be cost-effective and acceptable, the intervention will have potential for national and regional scale-up’. The study protocol is under revisions.

Daher et al., (2022)  Intimate hygiene practices and reproductive tract infections: A systematic review Gynecology and Obstetrics Clinical Medicine

Gynecology and Obstetrics Clinical Medicine notes that ‘Some of the products commonly used include intravaginal cleaning (e.g., douching or washing with liquids), intravaginal and extra vaginal wiping (e.g., with a cloth or tissue), and intravaginal insertion of substances that dry or tighten the vagina and boost sexual pleasure. However, the standard vaginal pH of 4.5, essential for maintaining a healthy vaginal immune barrier, can be disturbed by such feminine practice.’ The review also refers to studies which examine the risk of different menstrual hygiene products, noting that risks varies according to the type of infections (fungal, bacterial, sexually transmitted), for example  ‘drying reusable pads inside the house and storing them inside the toilet was found to be associated with a higher candida infection prevalence, but not the other types of infections.

 

Tarzibachi, E. (2022): Menstrual Bodies and Gender – the Transnational Business of Menstruation from Latin America. 

According to the preview: ‘Offers a powerful feminist critique of transnational discourses on menstruation, reveals how markets and gender ideologies have produced a curiously bloodless femininity, and explores new perspectives in feminist and menstrual scholarship.’

Lee et al., (2022), Investigating trends in those who experience menstrual bleeding changes after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination, Sciences advance  

The study covers 39´129 respondents, identified through a  convenience sample of currently and formerly menstruating people, using a web-based survey in the US.  ‘We investigated this emerging phenomenon of changed menstrual bleeding patterns among a convenience sample of currently and formerly menstruating people using a web-based survey. In this sample, 42% of people with regular menstrual cycles bled more heavily than usual, while 44% reported no change after being vaccinated’.

Puranik, A. and Gulati , A. (2022), Menstrual Cup: An Advanced and safer alternative for menstrual hygiene an overview, IMJMR  

International Medical Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, notes that ‘with the growing environmental concerns with the usage of non-biodegradable sanitary napkins along with its hygienic issues, it is the need for us to look at other, already available, environmental friendly, and safer alternatives. The menstrual cup, widely available in the market is an alternative still not taken advantage of, to avail its maximum benefits by the females in India’.

Alhelou et al., (2021) ‘We like things tangible:’ A critical analysis of menstrual hygiene and health policy-making in India, Kenya, Senegal and the United States.” Global Public Health.

A study based on an analysis of 34 policy documents and interviews with 85 participants active in policy-making or advocacy, finds that, ‘across countries, we found a predominant policy focus on tangible and material outcomes, such as menstrual products and facilities. A number of drivers influenced policy-makers to keep this focus, especially the key narrative around menstrual pads as a perceived solution to school absenteeism combined with sensationalisation in the media and the quest for quantifiable results. Menstrual stigma is so ingrained that it continues to constrain policy-makers and advocates themselves by perceiving and presenting menstruation as a problem to be fixed, managed, and hidden. When considering new policy directions, we need to create capacity for a holistic menstrual policy landscape that overcomes systemic barriers to addressing the needs of menstruators that are largely rooted in menstrual stigma.’

Olson et al., (2022). “The persistent power of stigma: A critical review of policy initiatives to break the menstrual silence and advance menstrual literacy.” PLOS Glob Public Health. 

The article builds on the above-mentioned Alhelou article, noting that ‘Policy-makers seemed constrained by the very stigma they sought to tackle, resulting in hesitancy and missed opportunities. Policies raised awareness of menstruation, often with great noise, but they simultaneously called for hiding and concealing any actual, visible signs of menstruation and its embodied messiness. Educational initiatives mostly promoted bodily management and control, rather than agency and autonomy.’ A blog post  summarizes the key messages of both papers:

Ahuja et al. (2022: ‘Sustainable menstrual products: The challenges ahead’ Asian Journal of Women’s Health.

‘This exploratory study was undertaken through in-depth interviews to identify the challenges women face while menstruating.’  ‘Some reasons for the gaps in the awareness and knowledge regarding what have been called sustainable menstrual products (SMPs) have also been identified to represent the themes of Self-concept, Pre-conceived notions, Accessibility, Routines, and Knowledge. The study refers to ‘the commercialization of menstrual products by the corporate giants that sell these’ and which may not necessarily favour SMSs.

Demarco (2022) Menstrual blood holds the key to better diagnostics DDN : Exploring drug discovery and development.

Exploring drug discovery and development. ‘Usually thrown away as waste, menstrual blood may help clinicians non-invasively monitor and diagnose a multitude of health conditions from diabetes and endometriosis to cancer.’

Agbor-Obun et al., (2021)  ‘Menarche Awareness Among Female Students’ In Junior Secondary Schools In Calabar Municipality Of Cross River State, Nigeria Inter-Disciplinary Journal of Science Education (IJ-SED).

The study finds that awareness is poor, and recommends ‘that all mothers irrespective of their educational status should be taught to break their inhibitions about discussing with their daughters regarding menstruation much before the age of menarche.’

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