The Connection Between Menstrual Hygiene and Mental Health

Menstruation is a natural phenomenon of the female body which usually starts when girls reach their adolescence. While it is expected that an educated society will not have any problem teaching people how to perceive menstruation, the problem is still at large, especially in rural areas.

In many parts of India and the world, menstruation is still considered taboo and something that should not be discussed openly in public. This has adversely affected how young girls who may not even realize what is going on with their bodies suppress the activities from the public.

As a result, maintaining hygiene during this period has become a nightmare for many. Thankfully, due to many menstrual health and menstrual hygiene initiative projects taken by the government and public organizations, the situation is on the better side.

What is Menstrual Hygiene and why is it important?

During menstruation, women on their periods are continually discharging blood. Keeping aside the pain and mental disturbance, it is very important to keep the body as clean as possible. Maintaining proper health and cleaning the discharge properly is what constitutes menstruation hygiene.

To do so, pharmaceutical companies have manufactured many accessories, such as cups, cleaning solutions, and sanitary pads. Using these accessories effectively helps a woman to tackle their periods in a much better manner, and thus maintain menstrual hygiene.

However, the real problem lies with the accessibility and acceptance of these accessories. In many places, sanitary pads are relatively priced higher. Women from rural areas and poor families do not feel the necessity to buy sanitary pads due to the cost alone. Instead, they are advised to use old clothes and materials as replacements.

Having those old clothes and using them during menstruation is not useful, and they can impose a health hazard instead. Studies show that only 18 percent of women in India know how to use a sanitary napkin properly. All of these have resulted in poor period hygiene management.

How is Mental Health Related to Menstrual Hygiene?

The reasons for adopting menstrual health and menstrual hygiene initiatives are not only for the betterment of menstruation hygiene but also for boosting mental health among women. There are many ways in which the inability to practice proper hygiene during menstruation can adversely affect mental health. Some of them are discussed below.

In many rural areas, women are still considered untouchables during their menstruation period. Some places believe that evil spirits reside in the body of women during that time. While others believe that women are impure due to menstruation, and they will spread their impurity to anything they touch.

It is disheartening to see that practices forcing women to stay alone in huts during their periods still exist in the modern world. In other places, women are not allowed to enter the kitchen, temples, and any places of social or religious value.

Being exposed to such a prejudiced viewpoint from the early stages can lead to a loss of confidence and an inferiority complex among women. As a result, their mental health degrades significantly, and the worst part is that there is no one to comfort or console them during the said time.

In India, around 23 million young women stop going to school due to their onset of menstruation. This is due to many reasons. One of the reasons is a lack of knowledge of menstruation at home, which leads to the discouragement from attending the school further.

Some rural families still believe that if a girl starts menstruating, it is time for her to get married and bear a child. Other factors include a lack of facilities in schools to help the girls properly maintain their menstrual hygiene.

MHM or Menstrual Hygiene Management, which consists of having adequate washroom facilities with clean water and soaps, is still not available in many areas. Additionally, the constant fear of getting caught staining their clothes and getting judged by people is always a factor for girls to drop out of their schools.

Even when the dropout percentage has reduced, girls during their periods still refuse to go to school due to lack of facilities, which results in missing around five to six days of school every month. Eventually, education gets affected, and many women are unable to get jobs that they should be eligible for.

Even female workers in rural parts of Bengaluru are not provided with proper facilities or leave during their periods, which further discourages them from working and thus, leaves out income opportunities. Being labeled as uneducated or unfit for a job is an extremely adverse situation that plummets mental health.

  • Physical health issues leading to future complications

Probably the worst of all scenarios is the physical health issues that come with improper period hygiene management. In some parts of the world, women are not allowed to take a bath or wash their bodies during menstruation. This can give rise to infections, especially without the use of sanitary pads, and can cause urinary tract infections. In other places, vigorous sexual activities are promoted when women are on their periods.

This can lead to different types of diseases and infections in the reproductive organs as well. Not only does this affect the sexual health of the person, but it may also lead to future infertility or the inability to conceive a child in the future. Even in such cases, a patriarchal society blames the women for the consequences.

With so much guilt, shame, and health complications, it is almost impossible for women to keep up their mental health in a good state as well. As a result, their social life becomes miserable, and they are treated as outcasts.

How can mental health be improved with menstrual hygiene?

The very first step is to eradicate the root cause of improper menstrual hygiene, that is to educate people. Local schools need to have adequate facilities, and the teachers need to promote and encourage female students to attend schools during their periods.

Social and cultural myths can be busted by imparting proper education, and the availability of necessary menstrual tools and accessories to every female in need will automatically help in maintaining proper menstrual hygiene.


With more and more women getting treated equally, with better opportunities in their fields of education or workplace, shame, guilt, and fear will automatically disappear. Also, with the proper use of sanitary pads, menstrual health will be maintained. This will directly affect their mental health in a positive direction, and thus, help women to lead a normal life.