MENSTRUAL HEALTH

Menstrual Health

A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely an absence of disease or infirmity, in relation to the menstrual cycle.

why is menstrual health important?

300 million people are menstruating right now. In addition, 500 million women and girls* (about one-fourth of the world's population) do not have everything they need to perform menstrual practices, which affects their well-being during menstruation.

* Not all women and girls menstruate, and not all people who menstruate are women. The term ‘women and girls’ is used as a shorthand term to increase readability but refers to all people who menstruate including girls, women, transgender and non-binary persons.

menstrual health (MH)

... is a matter of human rights.

MH is intricately connected to women and girls’ ability to exercise their rights. Poor MH can negatively impact the extent to which women and girls enjoy certain rights including those to education, work, and health. Good MH enables women to exercise and enjoy human rights on the basis of equality. In 2021, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution on menstrual hygiene management, human rights, and gender equality.

... is critical for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Thanks to its cross-cutting nature, investing in MH contributes to achieving multiple SDG goals: health and wellbeing, education, gender equality, water and sanitation, economic growth, and responsible consumption. 

... is integrally linked to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

MH and SRHR are linked in various ways, all of which influence the experience and expression of sexuality, bodily autonomy, and health-related decision-making. These linkages span both biological and sociocultural experiences and occur throughout various life stages. Questions and concerns about menstruation consistently arise in sexual and reproductive health and rights programming and research—and it has taken us too long to take these concerns seriously.

... is important to women and girls but not well understood.

Bleeding changes have long been cited as a concern or a reason for discontinuation of contraceptive methods and questions about menstruation and its connection to fertility, health, and contraceptives are common. Digital communication has provided an even greater opportunity for dialogue with users, tracking engagement, and soliciting feedback and questions from users—which frequently revolve around menstruation. Several youth-focused, user-centered design programs have evolved to incorporate MH as a critical component of adolescent and youth SRHR programmes.

... has an enormous potential for impact.

Investing in menstrual health is a preventative investment in the health and wellbeing of women and girls. A growing population will always have MH-related needs. Currently 500 million women—or one in four women of reproductive age in the world—face constraints in their needs to manage their menstruation well. This number will only grow. Poor MH keeps women out of the work force, which can be detrimental to women, community development and countries’ gross domestic product.

What we do

PSI-Europe’s vision for menstrual health is to bring care closer to users and put more care and control directly into their hands by advocating for Consumer-Powered Care.
01

Advocating for and providing guidance to meaningfully integrate MH into SRHR and WASH programming, policies, and funding.

02

Strengthening voice, choice, and agency through comprehensive and period positive MH information.

03

Advocating to give consumers a choice about which period products she wants to use.

04

Building the evidence base for the integration of MH into SRHR and WASH programming.

05

Increasing global technical expertise on menstrual health.

Case study: Zimbabwe

In 2018, with support from the Swedish Embassy, PSI-Zimbabwe developed a menstrual health (MH) program for adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) aimed at reducing taboos and stigmas, improving knowledge about MH and its connection with sexual and reproductive health & rights (SRHR), and improving product access to support the overall wellbeing of AGYW in Zimbabwe.

Let’s Talk About It was a multi-media and multi-language campaign to address community stigma that perpetuates shame and prevents open discussions about MH and its link with sex and sexuality. The campaign portrayed girls and role models such as religious leaders, men, and boys to convey support for girls, ignite community discussion, and destigmatize menstruation. The campaign generated community discussion through radio spots on national and local radio; a live television show titled Unpacking the Period Silence; social media banners, videos, and live online shows featuring popular media personalities; and printed media including posters and brochures.

Peer mobilizers incorporated MH messaging and products into their work as an entry point for discussion about contraception and HIV, driving HIV and SRHR client flow across programmes. When the mobilizers were deployed with MH content, monthly uptake of modern contraception services increased by 150% from the previous month.

PSI-Zimbabwe worked with the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) to improve youth-friendly guidelines for MH and to provide recommendations about the possible scale-up of the menstrual cup and reusable pad provision in future Government and donor investments. They identified youth-friendly outreach providers and created safe, non-judgmental environments for AGYWs to have questions answered.

learn more

menstrual health resources

Technical Brief on the integration of MH in srhr (Author)
read more
making the case to invest in menstrual health & hygiene (Co-author)
read more
UNFPA Technical brief (Contributor)
read more
A bloody problem: period poverty, why we need to end it and how to do it (Named Impactful Organization)
read more
zimbabwe case study
read more

For more resources on MH, visit our partner, the Menstrual Health Hub.

Latest Updates

Discover what’s happening at PSI-Europe

Introducing Ekua Yankah, New Member of PSI-Europe's Board

Get to know one of PSI-Europe's newest board members, Ekua Yankah.

Read more

Introducing Christine Fenenga, New Member of PSI-Europe's Board

Get to know PSI-Europe's newest board member, Christine Fenenga.

Read more

The Menstrual Cycle is Essential to Women's Health. So Why Isn't it Central to Philanthropy?

Why is it so bloody difficult to find money to fund periods?

Read more

The Menstrual Cycle is Essential to Women's Health. So Why Isn't it Central to Philanthropy?

Why is it so bloody difficult to find money to fund periods?

Read more

The Right to Reproductive Health: Supporting Girls to Take Charge of their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

18-year-old Mirela hesitated as she peered around the clinic’s waiting room.

Read more

Introducing Ekua Yankah, New Member of PSI-Europe's Board

Get to know one of PSI-Europe's newest board members, Ekua Yankah.

Read more