Publications & Reports

National Monitoring for Menstrual Health and Hygiene: Is the Type of Menstrual Material Used Indicative of Needs Across 10 Countries?

Annie D Smith, Alfred Muli, Kellogg J Schwab, Julie Hennegan
Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Surveys monitoring population health and sanitation are increasingly seeking to monitor menstrual health. In the absence of established indicators, these surveys have most often collected data on the type of menstrual material used. This study investigated whether such data provides a useful indication of women’s menstrual material needs being met. Using data from 12 national or state representative surveys from the Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 program, we compared self-reported menstrual material use against respondents' reported menstrual material needs (including needing clean materials, money, or access to a vendor). The use of menstrual pads did not indicate that menstrual material needs were met for many respondents. Of those exclusively using pads, a pooled 26.4% (95% Confidence Interval 17.1-38.5) of respondents reported that they had unmet material needs. More disadvantaged groups were particularly misrepresented; of rural women exclusively using pads, a pooled 38.5% (95%CI 27.3-51.1) reported unmet material needs, compared to 17.1% (95%CI 12.4-23.0) of urban women. Similar disparities were observed for levels of education and wealth, with a pooled 45.9% (95%CI 29.2-63.6) of women in the lowest wealth quintile reporting unmet material needs. Findings suggest that caution is needed when using menstrual material use as an indicator for menstrual health.


  • Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
  • Published: 12/04/2020
  • Volume: 17
  • Issue: 8