A global team of experts, organized by the Global Menstrual Collective, has come together to advance menstrual policy, practice, and research by defining menstrual health.
Formal definitions can prevent misunderstandings and serve as a compass to unite and direct a movement. Achieving menstrual health for all is essential for public health and gender equality, and so a proper definition of the term “menstrual health” is crucial to advancing efforts in this space.
“By defining menstrual health holistically, we aim to bring together stakeholders across sectors. This will help ensure menstrual needs are prioritised by all who have responsibility. A shared vocabulary can support collaboration and investment across silos in areas such as sexual and reproductive health, gender, education, and water, sanitation and hygiene.”
Senior author Thérèse Mahon, Regional Programme Manager South Asia at WaterAid
Published in the journal Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters, menstrual health is defined as:
“We can’t keep marginalising menstruation by expecting it to fit neatly into other existing areas of health. Our definition outlines the breadth of menstrual health needs and provides a unified objective for supporting people who menstruate.”
Lead Author Dr. Julie Hennegan, Research Fellow at the Burnet Institute
This new definition of menstrual health was developed in consultation with 51 expert stakeholders from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. It is grounded in the World Health Organization definition of health and builds on the foundation of advocacy work laid by menstrual health activists around the world. According to the authors, achieving menstrual health implies that all menstruators are able to:
- Access accurate, timely, and age-appropriate information about the menstrual cycle
- Access materials, facilities, and services to care for their body
- Access diagnosis, care and treatment for discomforts and disorders
- Experience a positive and respectful environment free from stigma and psychological distress
- Experience the freedom to participate in all spheres of life, as and how they choose
To learn more, read Menstrual Heath: A Definition for Policy, Practice, and Research in Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters or download a one-page summary here.
This post originally appeared on The Case for Her Blog