Menstrual Hygiene Management: A study of Socio-cultural practices and Implications of the Intervention programme in Kerala, India

Menstruation is an important life event for every female member of society. The major population overlooks its significance for reproductive health. Simultaneously, there is a wide variation in the knowledge, awareness and practice signalling various social factors responsible for it. Many studies addressed the question of hygiene management in the light of cultural understanding, scientific knowledge and environmental factors. This paper is an attempt to investigate the knowledge, awareness and practices of menstruation among the school going adolescent girls in Kerala and the assessment of the use of menstrual cups as part of the hygiene management. Methodologically, it deals with an ethnographic approach using face-to-face interviews, questionnaire surveys, and telephonic interviews. There are two phases of data collection. The sample population for the first phase was drawn using a snowballing method of age groups ranging from 11-15 years among the school going girls, and 2nd phase study population was selected using convenient sampling for questionnaire survey-I and voluntary participation for Questionnaire survey-II. The areas of study chosen for the first phase were Meppadi village in Wayanad. For the second phase, different districts of Kerala and medical colleges and health care centres were selected. The study shows a significant amount of menstrual hygiene management in using the absorbents, disposal of sanitary pads and cleaning practices. The awareness level is still yet to be improved through education at school and at home. The socio-cultural practices are still respectfully observed by them. The study also shows successful implementation of awareness campaigns and workshops towards the use of menstrual cups inspiring people to adopt the new methods of menstrual hygiene management. The intervention process of the government initiatives in Kerala is appreciated and responsible for the quick change in the use of menstrual cups. This study concludes that the use of menstrual cups with proper education about the usage of it will help in resolving the hygiene-related issues from the use of sanitary napkins. It also emphasizes the use of sustainable menstrual cups which are good for health and environment.