The reproductive health needs of adolescent girls, particularly those related to menstrual hygiene, remain largely unrecognized, unexplored and under-served. For example, only 12% of India’s 355 million menstruating women and girls use sanitary napkins. The other 88% resort to alternatives, such as unsanitary cloths, ashes and husk sand. Because of this, about 70% of menstruating women and girls suffer from reproductive tract infections (RTIs). It is also estimated that inadequate facilities and resources for menstrual management protection make adolescent girls miss at least 5 days of school in a month, which is about 50 days a year. Around 23% of these girls then end up dropping out of school.
Additionally, talking about menstrual health is still a societal taboo. Women are barred from entering temples and kitchens while menstruating, and some don’t even take baths during their periods. Because they are unable to talk about menstruation, adolescent girls also have insufficient knowledge of menstrual hygiene. Most of them consider menstrual blood impure, as they don’t understand how or why they menstruate.