Managing menstruation for women and girls with disabilities
This post was published on: May 28, 2021
Different types of disabilities include, among others, restrictions in mobility, reduced visual and auditory, speech and cognitive capabilities.
More than one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability. 80 per cent live in developing countries (UN).
The WHO underlines that disability is thus not just a health problem. According to a position paper by Disabled People International (DPI)disability can be understood as the outcome of the interaction between a person with an impairment and the environmental and attitudinal barriers he or she may face“. It is now recognised that disability is “just as much or more about how society puts up barriers that exclude and disadvantage people with impairments by not recognising their rights, needs and potentials (CBM).”
People with disabilities are placed at higher risk of violence include stigma, discrimination, and ignorance about disability, as well as a lack of social support for those who care for them.
Disability and menstruation
Women and girls with disabilities may experience menarche and menstruation differently—and more negatively—compared to non-disabled women. These include frequent reports of dysmenorrhoea (painful periods), menorrhagia (heavy periods), menstrual hygiene issues and mood and behavioral changes, linked to premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Challenges in terms of managing menstrual hygiene can be:
- Women and girls with disabilities may be less likely to gather information about relevant topics themselves, and /or
- Existing education materials does not include relevant aspects for women and girls with different disabilities or doesn’t cater for different learning requirements
- Women and girls with disabilities may face challenges in accessing sufficient support and especially health services
- WASH infrastructure might not cater for different impairments
- Maintaing hygiene (changing materials, personal hygiene and washing) can be challenging for some people, especially with limited pysical abilities
- Menstruating women and girls with disabilities might face further discrimation and stigma