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Improving Quality of Life with New Menstrual Hygiene Practices Among Adolescent Tribal Girls in Rural Gurajat, India

Publication year: 
Author (s): 
Shah, Shobba [et al.]
Publication details: 
London, Reproductive Health Matters, 2013
Publication in: 
Reproductive Health Matters, Vol.21, No.41, May 2013, pp.205-213

The Government of India has started a new scheme aimed at offering sanitary pads at a subsidized rate to adolescent girls in rural areas. This paper addresses menstrual health and hygiene practices among adolescent girls in a rural, tribal region of South Gujarat, India, and their experiences using old cloths, a new soft cloth ( falalin ) and sanitary pads. Qualitative and quantitative data were
collected in a community-based study over six months, with a pre-and post- design, among 164 adolescent girls from eight villages. Questions covered knowledge of menstruation, menstrual practices, quality of life, experience and satisfaction with the different cloths/pads and symptoms of reproductive tract
infections. Knowledge regarding changes of puberty, source of menstrual blood and route of urine and menstrual flow was low. At baseline 90% of girls were using old cloths. At the end of the study, 68% of adolescent girls said their first choice was falalin cloths, while 32% said it was sanitary pads. None of them preferred old cloths. The introduction of falalin cloths improved quality of life significantly (p<0.000) and to a lesser extent also sanitary pads. No significant reduction was observed in self-reported symptoms of reproductive tract infections. Falalin cloths were culturally more acceptable as they were readily available, easy to use and cheaper than sanitary pads.