Feminine hygiene is unnecessarily taboo. It isn’t difficult to see the day-to-day impact of the stigma; according to Wateraid’s 2018 study on reproductive education, “Nearly one in twelve (8%) women [in the UK] in the 16 – 24 age group only learnt about menstruation during their first period.” But, the shame surrounding feminine hygiene is beginning to subside, resulting in increased access to menstrual products and new recommendations for a comprehensive feminine health regimen, both of which are beneficial to public health. Just like the world is progressively learning more about the immune system, new information about feminine hygiene is surfacing every day.
Gradual Increase In Access To Menstrual Products
As the world begins to deem feminine hygiene products—particularly menstrual products—essential, access to these products has generally increased. While not every country has committed to equal access to feminine hygiene products, Scotland is leading the way as the first country in the world to make feminine hygiene products free. In light of a 2017 study by Plan International UK, which determined that 10% of girls cannot afford menstrual products, Scotland’s commitment to equal access could pave the way for the rest of the globe.
An increase in access to menstrual products will require a decrease in the stigma surrounding menstruation and feminine health at large. Luckily, organizations like the Bloody Big Brunch—a UK charity that raises money to buy period products for those who can’t afford them—are demolishing the taboo of feminine hygiene brick by brick. The organisation recently collected data indicating that 84% of UK residents think that providing menstrual products in schools is just as important as providing condoms. That statistic indicates an increased awareness of and decreased stigma around period products, a trend that will hopefully continue with time.
Less Taboo, More Solutions
As a result of slowly decreasing taboo, the medical community and advocates for feminine hygiene education are exploring new methods and products for hygiene. The decreased recommendation of douching and use of scented soaps for vulva health both represent significant strides in feminine health education. In response to a 2018 exhibition of feminine hygiene products of the past, Dr Tracey Loughran said that “Douching is presented as outdated, but it is still common and suggests an ongoing sense of shame and stigma around women’s bodies.”
The decrease of stigma and the release of new medical recommendations for feminine health have also opened the door for holistic medicine providers, many of whom are exploring alternative treatment methods for common vaginal maladies like yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Overall, the decrease in stigma has opened the doors for the medical and wellness communities to explore newer, safer options for feminine hygiene. One such natural alternative is apple cider vinegar for BV. According to research, ACV has strong antibacterial properties, which makes it an effective home remedy for BV.
Commitment To Ending The Stigma Is Beneficial For All
Efforts to bring feminine hygiene out of the realm of taboo have increased the awareness of and access to menstrual products and allowed the medical community to explore improved methods for feminine hygiene, but these efforts and improvements don’t impact women alone. Society has a better understanding of sex and gender than ever before, and access to feminine hygiene is imperative for people across the gender spectrum. Cisgender men also benefit from an increase in feminine hygiene conversations; the increase in awareness of reproductive health at large could empower them to explore improvements to their own health. Increased knowledge, data, and understanding related to feminine health bring us one step closer to an ideal world.