Menstrual mindsets and rituals: Impact on adolescent health and well-being
Menstruation is an incident which most women of reproductive age experience. It is a biological event with cultural and social dimensions. This event immensely influences the physical, cultural, economic and psychological wellbeing of adolescent girls. Present study was conducted in urban informal settlement (slum area) on 60 adolescent girls, attending school aged 12-16 years. The results suggested that lack of access to safe, convenient and culturally-appropriate methods of dealing with menstruation lead to discomfort and hygiene risks. It also restricts girl’s participation in education, social and cultural activities. Negative attitudes surrounding menstruation have been observed all over the world but are expressed in a more stern manner in urban slum settlements particularly due to acute poverty, overcrowding, lack of privacy, lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities. Taboos and myths surrounding menstruation increases anxiety and discomfort during menstruation and make it harder for girls to access information and support. Menstruation is an event which is concealed verbally as well as physically. A negative perception about girls’ capacity to study and interact socially during menstruation also inflates anxiety and discomfort. Interventions are needed to increase girls’ opportunities to discuss menstruation and access information from adults, guardians and teachers.