Menstrual health: a definition for policy, practice and research.

April 2021

A new definition of menstrual health has been developed by the Terminology Action Group of the Global Menstrual Collective. This definition offers a concise statement aligned with the World Health Organization’s definition of health, in addition to the requirements needed to achieve menstrual health. It aims to build on the foundation laid by advocates for menstrual health and hygiene. The definition was developed through a consultative process with 51 expert stakeholders from Europe, Americas, Asia, and Africa.

The Global Menstrual Collective are encouraging the adoption of this definition in an attempt to unify, guide, a inform advocacy, policy, practice, and research, across sectors. The hope is that the definition will situate menstrual health across sectoral priorities and funding portfolios for other health priorities such as sexual and reproductive health and rights, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and adolescent and women’s health. A unified definition offers a point of consolidation and foundation for partnerships to address the broad scope of this challenge.

This definition states, ‘menstrual health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in relation to the menstrual cycle.’

Achieving menstrual health implies that women, girls, and all other people who experience a menstrual cycle, throughout their life-course, are able to:

  • Access accurate and appropriate information about the menstrual cycle
  • Access appropriate and materials, facilities, and services to care for the body
  • Access appropriate diagnosis, care and treatment for discomforts and disorders
  • Be entitled to a positive and respectful environment
  • Be entitled to freedom to participate in all spheres of life

A helpful one page summary of menstrual health definition is available here.

Additional details

PublisherSexual and Reproductive Health Matters
ThemesGender, Health, Menstrual health and hygiene, Sanitation and health impacts

Hennegan, J., Winkler, I.T., Bobel, C., Keiser, D., Hampton, J., Larsson, G., Chandra-Mouli, V., Plesons, M., & Mahon, T. (2021) Menstrual Health: A Definition for Policy, Practice, and Research.Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters.


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