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Menstrual Taboo: Making Products Accessible and Talking About It

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Menstrual Taboo: Talking About It and Making Products Accessible Paul Proshin/Unsplash

The Period Store is an innovative online service that provides affordable and convenient packages every lady could benefit from during her menstruation cycle. But the website offers far more than that.

Its blog, The Periodical, highlights menstrual taboo on a global scale. In an interview with The Periodical, Lin, a young lady from Hsichu City, Taiwan, shared her experience. Young women in Taiwan are exempt from attending social events such as gym class and temple visits during that time of the month.

When asked about period management Lin had a few tips to share. Women drink herbal tea for cramps and keep their feet warm. Lin explained that women do not prefer tampons because there is a higher chance of getting a bacterial infection. Minty Lhamo Herbal pads from Taiwan are used and are known to leave the user feeling fresh and natural.

While Lin claimed that period management hasn’t changed much over time in her traditional society, Madara, a design intern from Latvia who works for TPS said that society has become more open-minded on the subject of menstruation.

However, Madara also said that female health and periods can still be a taboo subject. She attributes the suppression of sex education to the Soviet rule in Latvia.

“My mother remembers information coming from a mother or a doctor, never public,” she said.

Madara got her information from a summer camp teacher, and from brochures for young girls. When reading advice on menstruation from 1984, she found many things were either inaccurate or outdated. Examples of such information include restrictions on intimacy and playing of sports during menstruation.

According to Madara, this outdated and suppressive type of education is the reason that many families are still shy when it comes to talking about natural processes such as menstruation. This silence persists even after western products and medical information have become universally accessible.

Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) is a non-profit which is committed to creating local female-funded franchises in developing countries. The franchises manufacture and distribute low-priced and eco-friendly sanitary napkins, has begun working in Rwanda where sanitary pads are either very expensive or unavailable.

SHE founder, Elizabeth Scharpf, a Harvard graduate student, was motivated to create the company because of the alarming statistics related to loss in productivity due to menstruation taboo and lack of access to sanitary products in Rwanda.

According to Sharpf’s website Sheinnovates.com, during a five-year span in Rwanda, 18 percent of females missed school and work last year because they could not afford pads. This was a decrease of $115 million in Rwanda’s annual GDP, with similar losses in future until the situation changes .

Making sanitary products available to women, and encouraging dialogue and education about menstruation, will help to reduce menstrual taboo, and to increase productivity among the female workforce.


The Periodical. Periods around the world. 28 July 2015.

Sustainable Health Enterprises. 28 July 2015.

Reviewed August 3, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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