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Introducing Managing Menstruation: Know Your Options

A New Tool for Educating Clients on Menstruation

Managing Menstruation: Know Your Options is a unique client-facing tool. It provides information on the full range of self-care options for managing menstruation. Developed by Rising Outcomes and the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition, the tool is available in English, French, and Spanish. 

a screenshot of the cover page of the Managing Menstruation: Know Your Options brochure

The Managing Menstruation: Know Your Options brochure.

Fully informed choice is only possible with evidence-based, unbiased, and easily understood information. With menstruation, this means information on managing bleeding and pain. It also means understanding potential contraceptive-induced menstrual changes. “Managing Menstruation: Know Your Options” provides that information. The new tool aims to support menstruators in making fully informed choices that meet their needs and preferences and manage their menstruation with dignity.

Despite growing efforts to promote menstrual health, awareness of the full range of menstrual health options remains low. This lack of awareness is not only a barrier to choice but also access to menstrual health products. 

Contraception is a lesser-known option to manage menstruation, as some contraceptive methods result in less bleeding and pain. At the same time, a better understanding of menstrual options may help with contraceptive-induced menstrual changes such as heavier or more frequent bleeding. By addressing these effects, Managing Menstruation: Know Your Options can be used to begin integrating menstrual health and family planning programs.

A review of existing resources on menstrual options revealed several challenges. Many existing resources provided information on a limited range of options or included biased information. For instance, fear of breaking social norms means menstrual cups and tampons are left off some tools. Concerns about the environmental impact of disposable products mean that those products are sometimes disparaged or recommended against. We found several resources that covered the options nicely, but that information was only available within a larger document (such as a puberty education booklet or program guidance). This limits the audience that has direct access to the information. 

menstrual health supplies: a cloth pad, a pad, a soft cup, panties, a pantyliner, tampons, a menstrual cup
Credit: Lucy Wilson

Our review of existing menstrual health resources revealed only a handful that addressed pain—none discussed contraception. The inclusion of these topics in Managing Menstruation: Know Your Options makes it unique.

How Can You Use This Tool?

Managing Menstruation: Know Your Options is appropriate for broad audiences and a variety of settings. It can be used by health care providers and educators as a counseling or teaching tool. It can also be a point-of-sale marketing tool within pharmacies and other shops that sell menstrual products. Finally, it can be hung in public bathrooms, community centers, schools, universities, and workplaces. 

Did you know? This tool was inspired by the “Do You Know Your Family Planning Options” wall chart that hangs in health facilities around the world.

It is available in three languages—English, French, and Spanish—and in three sizes/formats—a large poster, a two-sided handout or two-page poster, and a short brochure.

To learn more about these topics, join the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition Menstrual Health Supplies workstream. The workstream provides a forum to work on menstrual health supplies and supplies-related issues as well as the challenges that prevent women from gaining access to affordable, quality menstrual health supplies. Related resources are also available from my FP insight collection on menstrual health.

A hand holding a see-through container with menstrual health supplies—tampons and menstrual cups
Lucy Wilson

Independent Consultant and Founder, Rising Outcomes

Lucy Wilson, MPH, is an independent consultant in reproductive health with over 18 years of experience. Her work includes designing and implementing outcomes-oriented monitoring, evaluation, and learning plans; advising teams on strategic planning and implementation; and supporting evidence-based programs. Her technical focus is in global sexual and reproductive health and rights, including family planning and menstrual health. She has a Master of Public Health from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina and a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University. She lived and worked for three years in several African countries. In 2016, she was recognized as a leader in family planning by the Gates Institute’s “120 Under 40: The New Generation of Family Planning Leaders” initiative.

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