Menstrual Health

The beginning of menstruation pronounces the most integral physiological changes happening to young women from their adolescent period until menopause. Every month, 355 million adolescent girls & women, i.e., 30% the country’s population face a miserable cycle of pain, distress, discrimination, discomfort, shame, anxiety, and isolation owing to their monthly menstrual cycles. Even today, access to sanitary products including pads, tampons and cups is bridled, and often the mothers who are the primary stakeholders and the point of contact for period education resort to using proxy materials including dried leaves, animal skin, ash, husk or even sand, old fabric, rags, wood shavings, newspapers, hay, and plastic among other unhygienic materials to absorb the menstrual flow.
Apart from the physiological changes, the phenomenon bears much more implications on the social construct, making it one of the most misunderstood subjects guided by stigma, myths, and misconceptions. Ignorance and superstition deprive young girls of crucial information on menstruation and the importance of menstrual hygiene so much so that menstruation is considered a sign of illness. Studies show that 71% of adolescent girls remain unaware of menstruation until their first menstrual cycle. Mother who are the source of information on menstruation has little knowledge to begin with to impart to their adolescent daughters thus, much of the information is imparted as restrictions on movement and social behaviours. The same is reflected in 70% of mothers consider menstruation 'dirty', perpetuating a culture of shame and ignorance. According to National Family Health Survey (2015-16) report, only 57.6% of women in India use sanitary napkins-48.5% in rural areas and 77.5% in urban areas. Further, the impact of poor menstrual health & hygiene is often overlooked as a part of menstrual process but in fact contributes significantly to female morbidity. Tackling the menstrual health and hygiene issue generates a triple return on investment with improved outcomes in education, health, and environment

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