How does menstrual poverty affect mental health

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While many women have the option of using menstrual cups, tampons, or pads, others may not have the means or luxury to do so.

In a society that struggles with many forms of poverty and inequality, there is a lesser known problem that is quietly affecting the lives of countless women around the world; the period of poverty. It not only creates physical obstacles, but also has a significant impact on mental health. The psychological impact of this problem is often underestimated, despite its importance in understanding the wider implications of gender inequality and the urgent need for change.

What is Menstrual Poverty

Dr. Bhagya Lakshmi S, Consultant Obstetrician, Gynecologist and Laparoscopic Surgeon, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabadsaid, “Periodic poverty refers to the lack of access to menstrual products, adequate sanitation and menstrual education. It is a widespread problem that affects many people, especially in low-income communities and developing countries.”

Dr. Sangeeta Raodeo, Consultant, Gynecology and Obstetrics, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, said: “Periodic poverty has serious consequences for both physical and mental health, especially for teenage girls.” She added that access to menstrual products is essential to maintain overall health. It can affect participation in school, sports and social activities. Not only this, girls even feel embarrassed and humiliated to talk to parents or friends, leaving them with a sense of shame and isolation.

Also Read: PeriodEducationForAll: Common Menstrual Myths Debunked by Dr Anjali Kumar

How does it affect mental health

Kushneet Sachdev, Counseling Psychologist, Lissun, said the lack of menstrual products or awareness could have mental health implications. Some of them are as follows:

Anxiety and stress

The inability to access menstrual products can lead to stress and anxiety. Fear of leakage or embarrassment during menstruation can cause emotional distress, affecting overall well-being.

Shame and stigma

In societies where menstruation is considered taboo, the lack of awareness or access to menstrual products can contribute to feelings of shame and embarrassment. This can result in negative self-esteem and low self-esteem.

Social withdrawal/isolation

Without appropriate menstrual products, individuals may avoid social situations or isolate themselves during their period. This can lead to missing school, work or social activities, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and exclusion.

Health issues

Insufficient access to menstrual products can lead people to use unhygienic alternatives, such as rugs or other unsafe materials. This increases the risk of infections and other menstrual-related health problems, causing additional physical discomfort.

Educational and economic impact

Insufficient access to menstrual products can also hinder their education and economic opportunities.

Read also: Day of menstrual hygiene: why is it harmful to take medicines for menstrual pain?


The way forward

Dr. Lakshmi said tackling menstrual poverty requires a multifaceted approach, including:

Affordability and accessibility

Efforts should be made to ensure that menstrual products are affordable, widely available and accessible to all. This may include government grants, community initiatives or partnerships with NGOs to distribute menstrual products to those in need.

menstrual education

Providing accurate information about menstrual health, hygiene and normalizing discussions around menstruation can help break down barriers and empower individuals.

Sanitation and Infrastructure

Improving sanitation, including clean and private restrooms, in schools, workplaces, and public spaces is critical to menstrual hygiene management. Access to clean water and facilities for the proper disposal of menstrual products are essential parts of tackling menstrual poverty.

Advocacy and Policy Changes

Raising awareness of menstrual poverty and advocating for policy changes at local, national and international levels are essential. Governments and organizations should prioritize menstrual health and hygiene as part of broader health and gender equality agendas.

Menstrual product innovation

Exploring innovative and sustainable solutions, such as reusable menstrual products or locally produced alternatives, can help address the environmental and financial aspects of menstrual poverty.

It boils down

Menstrual poverty is a complex problem that requires concerted efforts by governments, organizations, communities and individuals to ensure menstrual equality and promote the overall well-being and empowerment of those affected. On the other hand, overcoming menstrual taboos requires effort on multiple levels. Promoting open conversations about menstruation, providing accurate information and debunking myths can help reduce stigma and normalize discussions about menstruation.

How does menstrual poverty affect mental health

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