Tracking a sensitive topic: Menstrual health in women – Washington Post

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Tracking a sensitive topic: Menstrual health in women – Washington Post


Employees of an Indian charity prepare sanitary pads for low-income and poor women at their office in Mumbai. (Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images)

Menstruation may be commonplace, but it presents ­extraordinary challenges to ­people living in lower-income countries. According to UNICEF, at least 500 million women and girls worldwide lack adequate facilities for managing menstruation. And comfortable, effective menstrual supplies aren’t available to everyone with a period.

People who care about ­menstrual health management want to change that. And the International Menstrual Health Entrepreneurship Roundup ­(IMHER) is tracking their efforts.

The new website, developed by Dartmouth College’s Global Girls Forward Lab, is an information hub created by a research team with no financial stake in menstrual health. The stakes of the issue, however, are high. Girls in low- and middle-income countries lack information about puberty and periods, and affordability, availability and disposal challenges mean that many ­people go without adequate ­hygiene during menstruation. It’s an issue in the United States, too, where “menstrual equity” is a growing policy issue.

The website gathers information on menstrual health education and products and innovations designed to address these challenges.

Highlights include a database of research studies related to menstrual health management and a thoughtful roundup of settled issues and ongoing debates in the field.

Those debates are many.

Some researchers argue that focusing on menstrual supplies turns the developing world into a dumping ground for American products. Others cannot agree on whether better menstrual health management will actually improve school performance or increase school attendance.

IMHER doesn’t take a position on those debates. It does provide a comprehensive clearinghouse for people interested in the issue — whether they hope to reduce menstruation taboos, come up with new solutions for menstrual equity, or just learn more about menstrual health around the world.

Ready for a world tour of menstrual health access? Visit ­IMHER.net to get started.

Read more

Her school’s restrooms didn’t have pads or tampons, so she took matters into her own hands

Menstrual programs need a new focus in developing world, critic says

Many women still can’t talk openly about their periods — this app is trying to change that

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