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Menstrual Hygiene Management - Breaking Taboos and Empowering Women

Menstrual Hygiene Management new
Menstrual Hygiene Management – Breaking Taboos and Empowering Women

Author: Dr Monika Choudhary

MBBS, MS( Obs & Gynae)

Senior Consultant - Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Menstrual Hygiene Management - Breaking Taboos and Empowering Women:

Menstruation in India is deeply enmeshed in a cultural context, characterized by a mix of silence, stigma, and traditional practices. In many parts of the country, menstruation is not just a physiological phenomenon but a matter that influences social norms, religious practices, and even educational opportunities. According to Dr Monika Choudhary, MBBS, MS( Obs & Gynae), Senior Consultant - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Despite the advancements in healthcare and awareness, many women and girls in India still face challenges in managing their menstrual health due to lack of knowledge, access to sanitary products, and the persistence of age-old taboos. These societal norms often lead to misinformation and myths about menstruation, impacting the way it is perceived and managed. This scenario presents a paradoxical picture where, on one hand, there is increasing access to menstrual hygiene products, and on the other, persistent socio-cultural barriers that prevent open discussion and education about menstrual health.

Impact on Health and Social Life

The impact of these cultural and social norms is far-reaching, affecting not just the physical health of women but also their mental and social well-being. In many rural and even urban areas, menstruating women are often considered impure and are subjected to various restrictions. This not only perpetuates a sense of shame and embarrassment but also hinders their participation in day-to-day activities and decision-making processes. The lack of proper menstrual hygiene facilities in schools leads to higher absenteeism among girls, impacting their education and future prospects. Moreover, inadequate menstrual hygiene can lead to serious health issues, including reproductive tract infections. This complex web of challenges highlights the need for a comprehensive approach to menstrual hygiene management that not only addresses the physical needs but also tackles the socio-cultural barriers.

Importance of Menstrual Hygiene Management

Defining Menstrual Hygiene Management

Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) encompasses a range of practices and services that enable women and girls to use clean menstrual management materials, have access to facilities to change and dispose of these materials, and receive adequate information about menstruation and hygiene. It’s a holistic concept that includes not just the provision of menstrual products but also ensuring privacy, safety, and dignity during menstruation. MHM is essential for maintaining physical health, as it helps prevent infections and other health complications. However, its importance extends beyond health; it is a matter of human rights and gender equality. Effective MHM contributes to the empowerment of women and girls, enabling them to participate fully in education, work, and social life without the constraints and disruptions caused by menstruation.

The Role of Education and Social Change

Education plays a pivotal role in changing the narrative around menstruation. By integrating menstrual health education in schools and communities, we can dispel myths and misconceptions, fostering a more open and supportive environment for discussing menstrual health. This education should not be limited to girls but should also involve boys, men, and community leaders to change the broader societal attitudes towards menstruation. In addition, increasing the availability and affordability of menstrual hygiene products is crucial. This involves not only providing the products but also ensuring that they are suitable for different needs and preferences. Furthermore, initiatives that promote sustainable and environmentally friendly menstrual products can have a lasting impact on both health and the environment. The goal of MHM should be to create a society where menstruation is not a barrier but a natural aspect of life that is managed with dignity and without discrimination.

Understanding Menstrual Hygiene Management

Definition and Key Aspects

Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) refers to the practice of using clean menstrual management materials to absorb or collect menstrual blood, and having access to facilities to change and dispose of these materials. Key aspects of MHM include the availability of safe, affordable, and effective menstrual products; access to clean water and soap for hygiene purposes; and private, clean, and safe facilities for changing and disposing of menstrual materials. MHM also involves educating women and girls about the menstrual cycle and how to manage it with dignity. This education is crucial in dispelling myths and promoting healthy practices. Effective MHM is not just a health issue but a matter of gender equality and human rights, impacting women’s and girls’ education, health, and overall socio-economic status.

The Role of Education and Awareness

Education and awareness are pivotal in improving menstrual hygiene practices. In the Indian context, where menstruation is often a taboo subject, educating girls and women about menstrual health is essential for empowering them to make informed decisions about their bodies and health. Additionally, education should extend to boys, men, and community leaders to change the broader societal attitudes towards menstruation. Awareness campaigns can focus on the importance of menstrual hygiene, the challenges faced by women and girls, and the available solutions. Schools can play a significant role by incorporating menstrual health education into their curriculum, providing students with accurate information from an early age. Community-based programs can also help in reaching out to women and girls who are out of the school system, ensuring they too have access to menstrual health education.

Societal Challenges and Taboos

Cultural Attitudes and Misconceptions

In many parts of India, menstruation is surrounded by a myriad of cultural attitudes and misconceptions that significantly impact women’s lives. These taboos often portray menstruation as something impure or shameful, leading to restrictions on women’s activities during their periods. Women and girls are often excluded from social and religious events, and in some cases, even barred from entering certain parts of their homes. These practices not only reinforce the stigma around menstruation but also perpetuate gender inequality. The myths and misconceptions about menstruation are deeply rooted in cultural and religious beliefs, making them challenging to change. However, addressing these misconceptions is crucial for improving menstrual hygiene and women’s health.

Impact on Women’s Health and Education

The taboos and cultural practices surrounding menstruation have significant implications for women’s health and education. The lack of proper menstrual hygiene facilities and the stigma associated with menstruation often lead to higher rates of absenteeism among girls in schools. This impacts their educational attainment and future opportunities. Furthermore, inadequate menstrual hygiene practices can result in health issues like reproductive tract infections, which can have long-term consequences on women’s health. The lack of open dialogue and education about menstrual health exacerbates these issues, as many girls and women lack the knowledge and resources to manage their menstruation effectively and hygienically. Breaking these taboos and changing societal attitudes is therefore essential for improving both the health and educational outcomes for women and girls.

Sustainable and Affordable Menstrual Products

Types of Sustainable Products

Sustainable menstrual products are crucial for both environmental conservation and menstrual hygiene. In India, there is a growing awareness and availability of sustainable menstrual products such as menstrual cups, reusable cloth pads, and biodegradable sanitary napkins. These products offer eco-friendly alternatives to traditional disposable pads and tampons, which contribute to environmental pollution. Menstrual cups, made of medical-grade silicone, provide a long-lasting and cost-effective solution, while reusable cloth pads offer a comfortable and affordable option. Biodegradable pads, made from natural materials like bamboo fiber, are also gaining popularity. These sustainable products not only help in reducing the environmental impact but also offer women more choices in managing their menstrual health.

Accessibility and Affordability

Despite the availability of these sustainable products, their accessibility and affordability remain significant challenges, especially for women in rural and low-income urban areas. Many women and girls lack awareness of these products or face barriers in accessing them due to their cost and availability. To address this, it is essential to create awareness about these products and ensure they are affordable and accessible to all women, regardless of their socio-economic status. This can be achieved through government initiatives, NGO campaigns, and partnerships with private companies. Subsidizing the cost of these products, providing them in schools and community health centers, and conducting outreach and education programs can significantly increase their accessibility. Ensuring that every woman has access to affordable and sustainable menstrual products is a critical step towards improving menstrual hygiene and empowering women.

Role of Healthcare Systems

Healthcare Support and Facilities

The healthcare system plays a crucial role in menstrual hygiene management. In India, there is a need for more comprehensive healthcare support that includes not just the provision of menstrual products but also education, counseling, and treatment related to menstrual health. Healthcare facilities should be equipped to offer advice and support on menstrual hygiene, and healthcare workers should be trained to address menstrual health issues sensitively and effectively. This includes discussing safe and hygienic menstrual practices, providing information about different menstrual products, and addressing any health concerns related to menstruation. Additionally, healthcare facilities should have the necessary infrastructure, such as private and clean toilets, to support menstrual hygiene.

Initiatives and Programs

Several initiatives and programs in India aim to improve menstrual hygiene management. Government schemes like the Menstrual Hygiene Scheme and initiatives by various NGOs focus on providing sanitary napkins at subsidized rates, conducting awareness campaigns, and improving facilities in schools. These initiatives are crucial in reaching out to underprivileged sections of society and addressing the gaps in menstrual hygiene management. However, there is still a need for more comprehensive programs that not only focus on providing menstrual products but also address the cultural and educational aspects of menstrual hygiene. Collaborative efforts between the government, NGOs, healthcare providers, and communities can create a more holistic approach to improving menstrual hygiene management in India.

Empowering Women Through Menstrual Hygiene Education

Community Engagement and Education Programs

Community engagement and education are pivotal in empowering women through menstrual hygiene management. In India, where menstrual taboos are prevalent, community-based education programs can play a significant role in changing perceptions and practices. These programs should be designed to include not only women and girls but also men and boys, as changing the societal attitudes towards menstruation requires a collective effort. Effective programs can involve interactive workshops, awareness campaigns, and the involvement of local health workers and educators. Such initiatives can help in normalizing conversations about menstruation, educating the community about menstrual health, and advocating for the rights and needs of women and girls. Community engagement also opens avenues for addressing other related issues such as reproductive health, gender equality, and women’s rights, thereby fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment for women.

Breaking the Silence Around Menstruation

Breaking the silence around menstruation is a critical step towards empowering women and girls. This involves challenging the taboos and myths surrounding menstruation and promoting open and healthy discussions about menstrual health. Schools, colleges, workplaces, and community centers can be effective platforms for initiating these conversations. Incorporating menstrual health education into school curricula can ensure that young people receive accurate and timely information. Campaigns and media initiatives that portray menstruation in a positive light can also help in breaking down the stigma. By creating spaces where menstruation is discussed openly and without shame, we can empower women and girls to manage their menstruation with confidence and dignity.


The Way Forward
Addressing the challenges of menstrual hygiene management in India requires a multifaceted approach that combines education, access to affordable and sustainable menstrual products, healthcare support, and societal change. The key to progress lies in breaking the taboos and creating a culture where menstruation is not a barrier but a natural and respected part of life. This change is not only about improving women’s health but also about promoting gender equality and empowering women to fully participate in all aspects of society. As we move forward, it is crucial to continue advocating for better menstrual hygiene management, investing in education and infrastructure, and fostering community engagement to support this cause.

Whether it’s by educating oneself and others, supporting initiatives that aim to improve menstrual hygiene, or advocating for policy changes, every action counts. Motherhood Hospitals India encourages readers to join in this effort to break down taboos and empower women and girls across the nation. Together, we can create a future where menstrual hygiene management is a right, not a privilege.

Dr Monika Choudhary will respond to your query as soon as possible. For emergencies please call and reach Motherhood Hospital, Gurgaon.

At Motherhood Hospitals, we have a team of experienced supers specialists backed by the latest infrastructure and facilities. We have the best gynaecologist in Gurgaon . We are experts in handling complex deliveries, gynecological, and other surgeries including a range of laparoscopic surgeries. 

Do make an appointment with the best woman care hospital in Gurgaon  at a center closest to you. Please meet with our doctors who will carry out the required investigations, diagnose the issue, and recommend the most appropriate treatment, enabling you to lead an active life. 

If you wish to get in touch with Dr Monika Choudhary, please book your appointment here.

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