What do women and girls need to manage their menstruation?

Health issues particular to women’s and girls’ bodies – including not only menstruation but also pregnancy, childbirth, post-partum changes and menopause – have often been overlooked by decision-makers, policymakers, educators and even medical establishment. As a result, women
and girls often know little about the changes they will experience as they advance through life. Many girls learn about menstruation only when they reach puberty, which can be a frightening and confusing experience.

In the last few years, however, menstrual health management (also known as menstrual hygiene management) has become a topic of conversation among girls’ advocates, education experts and global development specialists.

There is now wide agreement about what women and adolescents require during menstruation:

  • They must have access to clean material to absorb or collect menstrual blood.
  • They must be able to change these materials in safety and privacy, and have a place to dispose of used menstrual supplies or to wash reusable supplies.
  • Menstruating women and girls must also be able to safely and privately wash with soap and water.
  • They should have basic education about the menstrual cycle and how to manage menstruation without discomfort or fear.
  • Women and girls should also have access to health information and care if they experience menstruation-related disorders.

Menstrual products must also be safe, effective and acceptable to the women and girls who use them. These products may include: Disposable sanitary napkins, reusable sanitary napkins, disposable tampons, menstrual cups, and clean, absorbent fabrics such as rags or underwear.