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Keywords

adolescent, Africa, hygiene, Kenya, menstruation, qualitative research, reproductive health

 

Authors

  1. Secor-Turner, Molly
  2. Schmitz, Kaitlin
  3. Benson, Kristen

Abstract

Background: Although menstruation is a universal experience, girls in resource-poor areas face unique challenges related to menstruation management. In Kenya, girls miss nearly 3.5 million learning days per month because of limited access to sanitary products and lack of adequate sanitation. Global priorities to address gender inequality-especially related to education-often do not consider the impact of poverty on gendered experiences, such as menstruation.

 

Objective: The aim of the study was to describe the experiences of menstruation from the perspective of adolescent girls living in rural Kenya.

 

Methods: Data for this qualitative study were collected through 29 individual interviews with adolescent girls and separate field observations. Descriptive content analysis was used to identify themes reflective of the data from the individual interviews and field notes.

 

Results: Four themes were developed to summarize the data: (a) receiving information about menstruation, (b) experiences of menstruation, (c) menstrual hygiene practices, and (d) social norms and the meaning of menstruation.

 

Conclusions: Findings from this study describe the impact of menstruation on the lives of adolescent girls in rural Kenya. Menstrual hygiene management and its associated challenges may impact girls' academic continuity. Experiences of menstruation also reinforce gender inequality and further marginalize girls in low-income, rural areas of Kenya. Consideration of menstruation is critical to promote health and academic continuity for girls in rural Kenya.