Feminine hygiene products (also called menstrual hygiene products) are personal care products used by women during menstruation, vaginal discharge, and other bodily functions related to the vulva and vagina.
These products are either disposable or reusable. Sanitary napkins (American English) or sanitary towels (British English), tampons, and pantiliners are disposable feminine hygiene products. Menstrual cups, cloth menstrual pads and period panties are the major categories of reusable feminine hygiene products.
Products meant to "cleanse" the area of the vulva or inside of the vagina, such as feminine deodorants, douche, feminine powders, feminine soaps, and feminine wipes have also been described as "feminine hygiene" products. These products may lead to allergic reaction and irritation as the vagina naturally flushes out bacteria. Many health professionals advise against douching because it can change the balance of vaginal flora and acidity.
Menstrual hygiene products
Society and culture
Costs and tax
Tampon tax is a shorthand for sales tax charged on tampons, pads and menstrual cups. The cost of these commercial products for menstrual management is considered to be unacceptably high for many low-income women. At least half a million women across the world do not have enough money to adequately afford these products. This can result in missing school or even dropping out. Several initiatives worldwide advocate to eliminate the tax all together. In some countries, such petitions have already been successful (for example parts of the UK and the United States).
Many people believe the tampon tax should be abolished because tampons are a necessity for women. They consider the tax discriminatory because things like prescription drugs and condoms are not taxed. Lawmakers around the country have started to take notice. Many have taken measures to exempt menstrual hygiene products from the sales tax. Some lawmakers have even succeeded.
Access to products in prisons
The Federal bureau of Prisons in the United States announced that women in its facilities would be guaranteed free menstrual pads and tampons. In section 411 of the First Step Act which was passed on May 22, 2018 states, "The Director of the Bureau of Prisons shall make the healthcare products described in subsection (c) available to prisoners for free, in a quantity that is appropriate to the healthcare needs of each prisoner"
Women around the world are highlighting the environmental costs of using menstruation products containing plastic and chemicals, calling for increasing use of reusable products. Companies are manufacturing reusable period panties, cloth menstrual pads, menstrual cups, biodegradable sanitary napkins and other eco-friendly products. India, with one of the largest populations in the world, alone produces 1,13,000 tonnes of menstrual waste annually. In the global south, especially countries like India, also have concerns around manual scavenging where menstrual wastes are picked and segregated by hand, by people. Sustainable menstruation aims to promote menstruation products containing less chemicals and plastic.
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