Menstruation and other forms of uterine bleeding are priorities across the full life cycle. However, around the world, several factors prevent girls, women and people who menstruate from accessing the information, resources, services, and products they need to experience menstruation and other forms of uterine bleeding in a dignified, empowering, safe, and healthy manner. These include gender inequality, discriminatory social norms, poverty, and structural and systemic barriers. Menstrual health is also an important determinant and outcome of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Yet, until recently, menstrual health (MH) was largely overlooked by the international SRHR community. This represents a missed opportunity for the adoption of holistic, integrated and rights-based policies, programming, and care. This technical briefing provides guidance on how to strengthen and operationalize the integration of MH in SRHR policies and programmes at global, regional, and national levels. Part 1 provides an overview of the evidence-based rationale for integrating MH and SRHR. Among the topics addressed here are intersections and sociocultural linkages between MH and SRHR, menstrual stigma, gender inequality, gender-based violence, menstruation and school/workplace participation, biological linkages between MH and SRHR and MH and vulnerable goups. Part 2 offers technical guidance for the integration of MH in SRHR in policies and programmes. Among the topics addressed here guidance for action on how to create an enabling policy and legislative environment, a comprehensive sexuality education and puberty education, adolescent and youth SRH services and programmes, family planning and contraceptive services, reproductive and maternal health care, HIV prevention, treatment, and care, gender-based violence programming, community engagement and vulnerable situations and groups. The technical brief focuses primarily on policies and programmes in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), particularly in East and Southern Africa. It also uses a life cycle approach to consider the MH and SRHR needs of girls, women and all people who menstruate, from pre-menarche to post-menopause.
The United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), The Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO)