College - Author 1
College of Science and Mathematics
Department - Author 1
Kinesiology and Public Health Department
Degree Name - Author 1
BS in Public Health
Joni Roberts, College of Science and Mathematics, Kinesiology and Public Health Department
In many cultures, menstruation is surrounded by silence and shame instead of being celebrated as a sign of health and vitality. Globally, challenges, including stigma surrounding menstruation, create barriers for menstruators (White, 2013; Crawford, 2014; Garg, 2015). It proves to be difficult for young menstruators to navigate menarche due to the taboos and socio-cultural restrictions surrounding menstruation (Sharma,2015). Encouraging women to have open conversations about their periods is necessary to combat these challenges.
To understand how to address the stigmas around menstruation, the researchers first conducted a literature review, revealing that education messages via the Internet, posters, storytelling, and peer group discussion effectively created awareness of menstruation (Hennegan, 2020). Therefore, a social media campaign was launched to address the gaps identified in the literature. The IRB-approved campaign is active on Facebook and Instagram, as identified in the literature, for easy user participation and opportunities for networking with other organizations (Bebla, 2018). Participants completed a Qualtrics survey recounting their first-period experiences and stories.
Thus far, respondents from the U.S., Canada, India, Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa have shared their first menstrual experience. Preliminary themes include young menarche age, initial support from mothers or relatives, and education as a primary source of support for North American participants. Participants residing in the Global South experienced confusion, embarrassment, and fright more than their Global North counterparts.
As evidenced in the literature, storytelling is a powerful tool to normalize conversations around menstruation. Many menstruators have vocalized their support for open communication of shared menstrual experiences through social media. The campaign aims to recognize and address the taboos, stigmas, and misconceptions surrounding menstruation in the next five years and assess the attitudinal changes resulting from menstruators engaging in more open, authentic dialogue about menstruation globally.
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