Everteen, one of the partners of the global Menstrual Hygiene Day, conducted its Menstrual Hygiene Survey 2018 to assess the impact of periods on a woman’s lifestyle and work. The following are the results.
Initiated in 2013, the Menstrual Hygiene Day is a global platform supported by organisations like UNICEF and USAID to raise awareness about the challenges faced by women and girls worldwide due to menstruation, and highlight solutions to address such challenges. The theme for this year’s event was to empower women and girls through Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM).
The survey saw participation from 2,128 urban, educated women from 85 Indian cities. Nearly 65% of the women were between 19 and 35 years of age, while 26% of the participants were aged from 36 to 50 years.
Contrary to popular belief, the survey revealed that price is no longer the primary determining factor while choosing a sanitary product. More than 95% women said that comfort, quality and health mattered the most to them. Ironically, while comfort emerged as the primary concern (52.1% of the participants), most of the women have not been actively looking for new sanitary products that can make their periods more comfortable. Almost 83% women said they have not even tried to search for new sanitary products in over a year. Nearly 52% women have not changed their choice of sanitary products in two or more years.
As many as 46% of the respondents said they did not know which product was used most often by women in developed countries such as the US and the UK. This probably highlights the fact that even urban, digital-savvy women are not fully aware of the new sanitary options available today, because of which periods often affect their careers, social and personal lives negatively.
On a related note, nearly 58% women claimed that menstrual activity directly impacted their productivity – with more than 49% women not being able to focus on work during periods. More than 8.4% women even said that they were criticised for not performing their tasks properly during periods. 46% of the working women had to take a leave from work due to periods, out of which nearly 40% took leaves more than three times in the year.
Periods also have a significant impact on a woman’s personal life and confidence. 60% of the physically-active women interviewed said they are not able to pursue outdoor activities such as swimming, yoga, gym, exercise and dancing during periods. One-third of the women who attend social and personal engagements such as family functions, parties and dates, said they are not free to do so during menstrual periods. 79% of the women said that periods impact their choice of clothes and the way they dress.
Hariom Tyagi, CEO of Wet & Dry Personal Care, says, “The need of the hour is complete feminine intimate hygiene, especially with nearly 49% of the women reporting vaginal infection and discomfort during periods more than once in the last year – and over 42% women suffering from it more than three times.”
While sanitary pads continue to be the product of choice (92%), more modern methods of menstrual hygiene continue to gain ground. About 7% of Indian urban women have switched to tampons and menstrual cups. However, with a majority still relying on traditional methods, periods still manage to steal the peace of mind of more than 70% of the women. Out of these, 22% claimed that they worry a lot about staining clothes. 66% of the women said they felt irritated or depressed during their periods.
This is the third Menstrual Hygiene Survey conducted by Everteen as part of its commitment to create awareness on good menstrual hygiene practices. Its 2017 survey with Women’s Health Organisation revealed that at least 43% of the women did not have ready access to essential sanitary products at the beginning of their periods. As many as 67% of the women have had to borrow such essentials from a friend, colleague or family member. More than 45% felt that menstruation was still considered a taboo in the Indian society, and 36% felt uncomfortable while buying sanitary products from a chemist shop in the presence of other customers.
The 2014 Everteen Menstrual Hygiene Survey revealed that 70% of the married women aged between 25 and 35 years suffered from abnormal discharge at least once in a year, but only 50% were comfortable discussing intimate problems even with their partners. Only 30% of the women said they consulted a gynecologist when they started showing worrying symptoms.
Earlier this year, Everteen donated sanitary products for 50 underprivileged girl performers at a cultural event on women empowerment sponsored by the India’s Ministry of Culture.
A version of this post was first published here.
Featured image used for representative purposes only.