Feminine hygiene

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Feminine hygiene products (also called menstrual hygiene products) are personal care products used by girls and 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.[1]

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.[2] Many health professionals advise against douching because it can change the balance of vaginal flora and acidity.[3]


Menstrual hygiene products[edit]

The elements of a tampon with applicator. Left: the bigger tube ("penetrator"). Center: cotton tampon with attached string. Right: the narrower tube.
Reusable cloth menstrual pad with Kokopelli motif.



Cleansing products[edit]


The different products my carry some health risks, some of which might be proven, others speculative.[4][5][6][7]

Society and culture[edit]

In low-income countries, women's choices of menstrual hygiene materials are often limited by the costs, availability and social norms.[8][9]

Costs and tax[edit]

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).[10][11][12]

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.[13]

Access to products in prisons[edit]

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"[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nicole, Wendee (March 2014). "A Question for Women's Health: Chemicals in Feminine Hygiene Products and Personal Lubricants". Environmental Health Perspectives. 122 (3): A70–A75. doi:10.1289/ehp.122-A70. PMC 3948026. PMID 24583634.
  2. ^ "Feeling Fresh". kidshealth.org. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  3. ^ "Douching | Womenshealth.gov". womenshealth.gov. 2017-02-21. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  4. ^ "Are panty liners beneficial or harmful? I alternative to panty liners". UTI prevention I Vaginal care I Ezspur. Retrieved 2018-11-18.
  5. ^ "Menstrual Cups: How to Use, Benefits, and More". Healthline. Retrieved 2018-11-18.
  6. ^ "Cloth Pad Pros & Cons". Reusable Menstrual Products. 2016-11-23. Retrieved 2018-11-18.
  7. ^ "Should We Really Be Using Feminine Care Wipes for Down There?". InStyle.com. Retrieved 2018-11-18.
  8. ^ UNESCO (2014). Puberty Education & Menstrual Hygiene Management - Good Policy and Practice in health Education - Booklet 9. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Paris, France, p. 32
  9. ^ Kaur, Rajanbir; Kaur, Kanwaljit; Kaur, Rajinder (2018). "Menstrual Hygiene, Management, and Waste Disposal: Practices and Challenges Faced by Girls/Women of Developing Countries". Journal of Environmental and Public Health. 2018: 1730964. doi:10.1155/2018/1730964. ISSN 1687-9805. PMC 5838436. PMID 29675047.
  10. ^ "Could this be the first country to end 'period poverty'?". www.msn.com. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  11. ^ Nosheena Mobarik (3 October 2018). "Mobarik: UK one step closer to ending the tampon tax". Conservatives in the European Parliament.
  12. ^ "Women get their periods every month — and it's incredibly expensive". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  13. ^ Ooi, Jorene (2018). "Bleeding Women Dry: Tampon Taxes and Menstrual Inequity".
  14. ^ "Text - H.R.5682 - 115th Congress (2017-2018): FIRST STEP Act". 2018-05-23.

External links[edit]