Use of menstrual cup by adolescent girls and women: potential benefits and key challenges
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In resource poor settings, sanitary towels are often too expensive and unaffordable for most adolescent girls and women who need them, and as a consequence these women and girls resort to unhygienic methods. This is one of a series of policy briefs developed as part of a study to explore menstrual practices and investigate the suitability of menstrual cups for adolescent girls and women in Kenya. This brief sets out the results of research to collect the views of women and girls before and after they had tried using menstrual cups. The research identified possible benefits of using the menstrual cup on: school attendance and participation, economic participation and productivity, health issues caused by other, unhygienic sanitary methods, and on social issues, such as women and girls’ restricted mobility and participation due to fear of victimisation, embarrassment and stigmatisation. It also identified some challenges associated with using a menstrual cup, primarily around access to water, toilets, privacy and security. The brief ends by noting that as use of menstrual cups become more widespread, social marketing and distribution through youth-friendly services would be a useful way to offer proper guidance on its use and uptake. Other interventions could be the provision of information on menstrual flow management, the production and distribution of cheaper sanitary products and guidance programmes for young girls.