Menstrual Health and Hygiene (2023)


priority areas

Country Examples


Menstrual Health and Hygiene (1)


Menstrual Health and Hygiene (SMH) is essential for the well-being and empowerment of women and adolescents. On any given day, more than 300 million women around the world are menstruating. In total, an estimated 500 million do not have access to menstrual products or adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management (MHM). To effectively manage their periods, girls and women need access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities, accessible and appropriate menstrual hygiene materials, information on good practices and a supportive environment where they can manage their periods without shame or stigma.

According to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program 2012, menstrual hygiene management is defined as:

“Women and adolescent girls use clean menstrual control material to absorb or collect menstrual blood, which can be changed in private when necessary, use soap and water to wash their bodies as needed, and have access to safe and convenient facilities for dispose of used blood. menstrual control materials. They understand the basic facts about the menstrual cycle and how to manage it with dignity and without discomfort or fear.”

The challenges faced by menstruating girls, women and others go beyond a basic lack of supplies or infrastructure. Although menstruation is a normal and healthy part of life for most women and girls, in many societies the menstruating experience remains constrained by cultural taboos and discriminatory social norms. The consequent lack of information about menstruation leads to unhygienic and unhealthy menstrual practices and creates misconceptions and negative attitudes, which motivate, among other things, shame, bullying and even gender-based violence. For generations of girls and women, poor menstrual health and hygiene is exacerbating social and economic inequalities, negatively impacting their education, health, safety and human development.

Menstrual Health and Hygiene (2)

The multidimensional problems faced by menstruating women require multisectoral interventions. WASH practitioners alone cannot find all the solutions to address the cross-cutting issues of inadequate sanitation facilities, lack of information and knowledge, lack of access to quality and affordable menstrual hygiene products, and stigma and social norms associated with menstruation. Research has shown that approaches that can effectively combine information and education with the right infrastructure and menstrual products, in a supportive policy environment, are most successful in avoiding the negative effects of poor MHH; in short, a holistic approach that requires collaborative and multidimensional responses. .

Menstrual Health and Hygiene (3)
priority areas


In low-income countries, half of schools lack adequate water, sanitation and hygiene services, which are crucial to enable girls and teachers to manage menstruation (UNICEF 2015). Many studies argue that inadequate sanitary facilities affect girls' experiences at school, leading them to miss classes during menstruation or even drop out of school. Schools that have female-friendly facilities and incorporate information about menstruation into the curriculum for both girls and boys can reduce stigma and contribute to better education and health outcomes.

• A meta-analysis of the menstrual hygiene situation among adolescent girls in India found that a quarter of girls did not attend school during menstruation due to a lack of adequate toilets (Van Eijk et al. 2016).

(Video) Menstrual Health & Hygiene

• In South Sudan, 57% of adolescent girls interviewed reported staying home during menstruation due to lack of private changing rooms at school (Tamiru et al. 2015).

• A study in Kenya found that 95% of menstruating girls missed one to three days of school, 70% reported a negative impact on their grades, and more than 50% reported falling behind in school due to menstruation (Mucherah and Thomas 2017).

• A survey in Bangladesh found that only 6 percent of schools provide health and hygiene education, and only 36 percent of girls had prior knowledge about menstruation before their first period (World Bank 2017c).

• A sanitary napkin intervention in Ghana found that after six months of free sanitary napkin provision and puberty education programmes, girls were absent significantly less from school (Montgomery et al. 2012).


When girls and women have access to safe and affordable sanitary supplies to control their periods, they reduce the risk of infections. This can have cascading effects on overall sexual and reproductive health, including reduced teen pregnancy, maternal outcomes, and fertility. However, poor menstrual hygiene can pose serious health risks, including reproductive and urinary tract infections, which can lead to infertility and birth complications in the future. Not washing your hands after changing menstrual products can spread infections like hepatitis B and yeast infections.

• Studies have found that distributing sanitary napkins to girls leads to a significant reduction in sexually transmitted infections and bacterial vaginosis (Benshaul Tolonen et al. 2019; Phillips-Howard et al. 2016).

• The lack of facilities for the hygienic management of menstruation can cause discomfort and psychological stress and increase the shame and sometimes depression experienced by women and girls due to taboos and stigma related to menstruation (Sweetman and Medlands 2017).

Gender equality

Promoting menstrual health and hygiene is an important way to safeguard women's dignity, privacy, bodily integrity and, consequently, self-efficacy. Raising awareness about MHH contributes to building an enabling environment for non-discrimination and gender equality where women's voices are heard, girls have choices about their future, and women have choices to become leaders and managers.

• Discriminatory social norms, cultural taboos and the stigma associated with menstruation can lead girls to engage in dangerous practices.

• A study in Egypt found that many female students reported not bathing during menstruation because it is considered a social taboo to come into contact with water during the menstrual cycle (ElGilany, Badawi, and El-Fedawy 2005).

(Video) What Does It Take to Improve Menstrual Health and Hygiene?

• A study in Nepal found that many girls were forced to stay in a hut or sleep in fields during their periods, despite the government outlawing this practice (Thompson et al. 2019).


Improving menstrual hygiene and providing access to affordable menstrual materials can help improve girls' and women's access to education, opening up more options for employment, advancement and entrepreneurship, thereby unlocking women's contributions to the overall economy rather than keeping them At home. In addition, women's hygiene products are a multi-million industry that, if used well, can generate income for many and significantly boost economic growth.

• Girls who drop out of school have limited employment opportunities and often marry early and start having children, further reducing their income-earning options.

• Women without adequate female sanitary facilities in the workplace lose wages for days of work missed during menstruation and are seen as unreliable workers, reducing promotion options.

• Due to financial constraints or limited markets, many girls and women do not have access to adequate menstrual products.


Disposable sanitary products contribute to large amounts of waste globally. Ensuring women and girls have access to quality, sustainable products and improving disposal management of menstrual products can make a world of difference to the environment.

• Each year, the average woman throws away about 150 pounds of non-biodegradable waste. In India alone, around 121 million women and girls use an average of eight non-compostable disposable sanitary napkins per month, generating 1.021 million sanitary napkin waste per month, 12.3 billion sanitary napkins per year and 113,000 metric tons of annual menstrual waste (Bhor and Ponkshe 2018; RUTA 2017).

Menstrual Health and Hygiene (4)
Country Examples

Increasing opportunities for women to access proper menstrual health and hygiene is critical for the World Bank Group to achieve its development results. GHM spans many development sectors, and the Bank approaches this through collaboration and a holistic approach, as demonstrated by recent examples of Bank operations:

• Nobangladesh, aRural Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Project for the Development of Human Capitalis giving women access to microcredit loans and sanitation grants to invest in home WASH facilities. In addition, the project is facilitating behavior change and training sessions on the importance of menstrual hygiene and safely managed WASH facilities. At the community level, the project will build suitable facilities for MHH in public places and promote women's representation and leadership in water resource management committees. Access to finance will be provided to 150 women entrepreneurs to help them market and sell soaps, sanitizers and menstrual hygiene products at their doorsteps. This will improve menstrual hygiene practices, especially among those who are very timid and reluctant to buy them in public markets.

(Video) Menstruation | Menstrual Hygiene | Medicover Hospitals

•Noin coup, andWater Supply and Sanitation Projectis promoting design approaches to ensure sanitation and hygiene facilities are built in schools to meet the needs of women and girls. This includes gender-separated facilities with locks, lighting, trash bins, and handwashing stations with soap and water. Behavior change and hygiene promotion campaigns will be carried out incorporating MHH, aimed at students, teachers, parents and the community in general.

• OGAMA Water and Sanitation Projectnoganalaunched an in-depth qualitative study to understand the influences of school-based MHM interventions on adolescent girls' educational engagement. Under the project, toilets were built in more than 260 schools in the Greater Accra metropolitan area. All facilities include separate girls' toilets and changing rooms, with lockable doors, sinks, and safe, hygienic spaces to dispose of used sanitary products.

• OWater Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Expansion Project, a multi-sectoral WASH project inLao Democratic Republic, employs an approach of nutritional convergence with the provision of infrastructure services and behavior change at the community and family level. The project aims to address low school attendance among adolescent girls by ensuring that school sanitary facilities have functional single-sex toilets with a reliable supply of soap and water. Educational materials on hygiene and GHM will also be provided and distributed.

• In rural areas ofMozambique, the primary school completion rate is only 14% for men and 8% for women, severely limiting livelihood opportunities. Few schools have adequate toilet facilities and those that do are poorly maintained and unsuitable for MHH. HeUrban Sanitation Projectis responding with a sanitation and hygiene promotion marketing campaign that emphasizes improving menstrual hygiene for girls and women. It is financing the construction of 78 toilets in schools and markets in two project cities. Standard designs include handwashing facilities, accessibility for people with disabilities, and MHH services. Hygiene promotion and MHH activities will be carried out in schools, including training for teachers and students. These approaches will inform future interventions in schools across the country.

Menstrual Health and Hygiene (5)


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united washing


What is menstrual health and hygiene? ›

Menstrual Health and Hygiene (MHH) is essential to the well-being and empowerment of women and adolescent girls. On any given day, more than 300 million women worldwide are menstruating. In total, an estimated 500 million lack access to menstrual products and adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management (MHM).

Why is menstrual hygiene important? ›

Menstrual blood, when released from the body attracts various organisms from our bodies, which multiply in the warmth of the blood, and cause irritation, rashes or urinary tract infections. Changing your sanitary napkin or tampon regularly curbs the growth of these organisms and prevents infections.

What are factors impacting menstrual health and hygiene? ›

Gender inequality, discriminatory social norms, cultural taboos, poverty and lack of basic services like toilets and sanitary products can all cause menstrual health and hygiene needs to go unmet.

What happens if you don't shower on your period? ›

Some people think a woman shouldn't take a bath or shower when she has her period. Some even think she shouldn't wash your hair. This is not true. There is no reason not to bathe during your period.

How often should you shower on your period? ›

Regular showers during your period are necessary to prevent odor and reduce your risk of infection. Take a shower or bath at least once per day. Some medical professionals even recommend bathing twice daily during your period, such as in the morning and at night.

How do you take care of a woman on her period? ›

Give her some extra hugs and kisses while she is in pain. Ask her what she needs and help her out. If you are hanging out around her house during her period, then help her out around the house. She might find it difficult to do certain activities, so help her out, and she will be appreciative of you!

How do I naturally regulate my period? ›

Making lifestyle changes to reduce or manage stress and maintain a healthy body weight may help regulate periods. Meditation and yoga are effective stress management methods. Regular exercise and a healthful diet can help people manage their weight. Getting enough vitamin D may also support a healthy menstrual cycle.

What are the problems with feminine hygiene? ›

Poor feminine hygiene can lead to many issues such as fungal infections, reproductive issues, and urinary tract infections. These medical problems won't only affect you physically but can also affect your emotional and mental well-being.

What will happen if personal hygiene is not taken care during menstruation *? ›

Poor menstrual hygiene can lead to many issues, such as fungal or bacterial infections of the reproductive tract and the urinary tract. Irritation of the skin causes discomfort and can possibly result in dermatitis – a medical condition in which the skin swells, turns red, and at times becomes sore with blisters.

Is menstrual hygiene empowerment? ›

Menstrual hygiene has empirically been the entry point to raise broader issues like gender equality and women empowerment, encompassing essential matters such as sex education, sexual and reproductive health & rights, child marriage, fistula, and female genital mutilation.

What are 3 health problems related to menstruation? ›

Menstrual disorders include:
  • Dysmenorrhea refers to painful cramps during menstruation.
  • Premenstrual syndrome refers to physical and psychological symptoms occurring prior to menstruation.
  • Menorrhagia is heavy bleeding, including prolonged menstrual periods or excessive bleeding during a normal-length period.

What are the five factors that can promote menstrual hygiene? ›

As per the above definition, adequate MHM would require the following main components: clean absorbents; adequate frequency of absorbent change; washing the body with soap and water; adequate disposal, privacy for managing menstruation and appropriate disposal of used absorbents.

What cultures don t shower? ›

The Himba people live in one of the most extreme environments on earth with the harsh desert climate and the unavailability of potable water. However, their lack of bathing has not resulted into lack of personal hygiene.

Should I wash my hair during period? ›

It is perfectly fine to wash your hair, take a shower or bath at any point during your period. Myths about periods have been around for as long as girls have been menstruating so that's why your mom may have heard it.

What day of your period should you shower? ›

You can and should shower and bathe as you usually do when you have your period. Most women find that during their periods, the best way to prevent unwanted odor (caused by bacteria rather than the menstrual blood itself), is to practice good hygiene.

Do periods start in the morning or night? ›

A significantly greater number of cycles (70.4%) commenced during the night or in the first 4 h after rising, compared with later in the day. In a large proportion of these (29 out of 76), blood was noted to be present on waking, menstruation thus having begun at some time during the hours of sleep.

How many times should you change your pad a day? ›

No matter how light your flow is, or even if there is no flow, bacteria can build up. Changing your pad every 3 or 4 hours (more if your period is heavy) is good hygiene and helps prevent bad odors. This is especially true if you'll be playing sports or rushing around from class to class.

What does the Bible say about menstruation? ›

In the third book of the Pentateuch or Torah and particularly in the Code of legal purity (or Provisions for clean and unclean) of the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 11:1-15:33), it is stated that a woman undergoing menstruation is perceived as unclean for seven days and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening (see ...

What a girl needs on her period? ›

Most girls use on or more of these: pads (or sanitary napkins) tampons. menstrual cups.

What men should know about periods? ›

Men, PMS (Pre-menstrual syndrome) is very real and women are not moody and irritated for no reason. PMS starts a week (or even 10 days) before the actual period. As reproductive hormones, estrogen, and progesterone fluctuate, they can cause terrible mood swings, aches, cravings, anxiety and even cramps in women.

How can I balance my hormones and regulate my period? ›

Here are some ways to naturally balance your hormones.
  1. Get enough protein. ...
  2. Exercise regularly. ...
  3. Maintain a moderate weight. ...
  4. Watch your gut health. ...
  5. Lower sugar intake. ...
  6. Reduce stress. ...
  7. Get enough sleep. ...
  8. Eat healthy fats.

Does vitamin D regulate menstrual cycle? ›

Vitamin D deficiency, with the additional dysregulation of calcium metabolism in the body, contributes to the suppression of ovarian follicular maturation in women with PCOS. There are also studies showing that vitamin D supplementation can regulate the course of the menstrual cycle in women with PCOS [11,15].

What foods make your period regular? ›

7 foods to eat if you have irregular periods
  • Ginger. Ginger is very beneficial for your health. ...
  • Unripe papaya. You can regulate your periods by adding unripe papaya to your diet! ...
  • Cinnamon. Love the taste of cinnamon? ...
  • Aloe vera. ...
  • Turmeric. ...
  • Pineapple. ...
  • Parsley.
Jan 29, 2019

What is the safest feminine hygiene? ›

Natural period products like organic pads and tampons, menstrual cups, and wipes are the best options because they're nontoxic and made more sustainably than traditional products that use plastics and harsh chemicals, along with other no-nos.

Which gender has more hygiene? ›

Not only are women (81%) more likely than men (72%) to describe themselves as very clean rather than just clean, they are also more likely to consider the tested hygiene habits very important.

What is the proper hygiene for females? ›

Personal hygiene for women

Menstruation - wash your body, including your genital area, in the same way as you always do. Change tampons and sanitary napkins regularly, at least four to five times a day. Always wash your hands before and after handling a tampon or pad. Cystitis - is an infection of the bladder.

What are the dangers of wearing a pad too long? ›

Trapped moisture provides a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus, and wearing a pad for too long can lead to an infection, including a yeast infection. A damp pad and friction can also cause irritation or the dreaded pad rash and make you more susceptible to infection.

Is menstrual health a human right? ›

While it is true that menstruation is experienced in the bodies of women and girls – as well as other individuals such as non-binary and trans persons – menstrual health issues are human rights issues, and therefore of importance to society as a whole.

Is menstrual health a social issue? ›

Menstruation is still considered a taboo in the Indian society. Even today, the cultural and social influences on people create a major hurdle in ensuring that the adolescent girls are given proper knowledge on menstrual hygiene.

Why Is menstruation a public health issue? ›

Poor menstrual hygiene could lead not only to physical health problems such as reproductive and urinary infections, but also to issues that are related to mental health, linking the menstrual cycle to a negative feeling and leaving people who menstruate ashamed.

What are four factors that may affect a woman's menstrual cycle? ›

In our study, the risk factors for menstrual cycle irregularity were perceived stress, obesity, smoking, and marital status.

What is menstrual dysphoria? ›

Answer From Tatnai Burnett, M.D. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe, sometimes disabling extension of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Although PMS and PMDD both have physical and emotional symptoms, PMDD causes extreme mood shifts that can disrupt daily life and damage relationships.

What are extreme menstrual symptoms? ›

Symptoms may include cramping or pain in the lower abdomen, low back pain, pain spreading down the legs, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, weakness, fainting, or headaches. Treatments may include NSAIDS, acetaminophen, birth control pills, hormone treatment, dietary changes, vitamins, exercise, heat, or massage.

What are 6 important hygiene practices? ›

Personal hygiene includes:
  • cleaning your body every day.
  • washing your hands with soap after going to the toilet.
  • brushing your teeth twice a day.
  • covering your mouth and nose with a tissue (or your sleeve) when sneezing or coughing.
  • washing your hands after handling pets and other animals.

What are the four important reasons to have good hygiene? ›

4 Reasons You Would Need Good Hygiene
  • Disease Prevention. Good hygiene lowers your risk for diseases and illnesses commonly spread through viruses and bacteria. ...
  • Social and Professional Acceptance. ...
  • Higher Confidence and Self-Esteem. ...
  • Pain Prevention.
Oct 17, 2018

What factors affect your menstrual cycle? ›

Table 2 shows the factors affecting the menstrual cycle of premenopausal women. In the univariate analysis, age, smoking status, pack-year, body weight, alcohol, perceived level of stress, marital status, educational level, and modifiable risk factor scores were associated with irregular menstruation (Table 2).

What are the factors of personal hygiene? ›

Personal hygiene includes:
  • cleaning your body every day.
  • washing your hands with soap after going to the toilet.
  • brushing your teeth twice a day.
  • covering your mouth and nose with a tissue (or your sleeve) when sneezing or coughing.
  • washing your hands after handling pets and other animals.

What environmental factors affect menstruation? ›

Many environmental factors may affect characteristics of menstrual cycle including workplace,[26] caffeine consumption,[27] smoking,[28] occupation,[29] physical activity,[30] diet,[31] age,[32] weight,[33] exposure to organic solvent,[34] medical conditions, and lifestyle factors.

Can your lifestyle affect your period? ›

“In general, if your nutrition is poor and you're not getting enough calories, periods tend to go away for a while,” says Sullivan. “If you're gaining weight, it's really unpredictable. With certain people, they become heavy and frequent. With some people, they become really irregular.

Can lifestyle change affect your period? ›

A change in routine, a new diet or a stressful situation can all delay your period. While most of us are bound to experience irregular cycles from time to time, others can have frequent irregularities.

Does your period change as you get older? ›

Some women notice their menstrual cycle getting shorter with age. According to ACOG, changes in your menstrual cycle during perimenopause are normal. Your periods may become shorter or longer, and the days between your periods may increase or decrease. Your menstrual flow may become heavier or lighter.

How does stress affect menstrual cycle? ›

If the stress is short-lived, you may miss a period or be a few days late. However, if the stress is chronic, more erratic or absent menstruation can occur. Extreme weight changes and physical activity are also common culprits of a delayed cycle.

What are 10 tips for good hygiene? ›

Table of Content
  • Take Regular shower.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • 3.Maintain oral hygiene practices.
  • Trim your nails and wash your hairs.
  • Clean your nose and ears.
  • Wear fresh and warm clothes.
  • Food hygiene is important too.

What are 3 problems poor personal hygiene can cause? ›

Hygiene-related Diseases
  • Athlete's Foot (tinea pedis)
  • Body Lice.
  • Chronic Diarrhea.
  • Dental Caries (Tooth Decay)
  • Head Lice.
  • Hot Tub Rash (Pseudomonas Dermatitis/Folliculitis)
  • Lymphatic Filariasis.
  • Pinworms.

Why are periods worse in heat? ›

If you usually feel tired and out of it during your period, the heat could make it worse. During long summer days, our bodies produce less melatonin which is the hormone responsible for sleep. As well as this, during our periods, our bodies use up a lot more energy to keep things moving.


1. Understanding Menstrual Hygiene Through The 5 P Technique | Sirona Hygiene
(Sirona Hygiene)
2. Menstrual Hygiene Day 2022: Committed To End Period Stigma | Red Is the Color
(World Bank)
3. How Do We Measure Progress? Monitoring Menstrual Health and Hygiene
(Columbia Public Health)
4. Menstrual hygiene day: Everything you should know about menstrual health
5. Menstrual Health and Hygiene - Relevant, Inter-sectoral and on the Rise
(Week on Water for Development 2020)
6. Animation Film Menstrual Hygiene
(WASH Institute)


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