Menstrual health and hygiene for adolescent girls has received increasing attention in recent years but the needs of older women experiencing the perimenopause is still rarely considered in the S&H sector. The perimenopause, often called ‘the change’, is the time approaching the menopause. The menopause is the permanent cessation of menstruation, reached when a woman does not menstruate for 12 months.
Perimenopausal women experience irregular, heavy menstruation, sweating, hot flushes, and incontinence. The perimenopause and menopause are hidden, taboo subjects which are seldom discussed, with impacts varying in severity from woman to woman. Many women do not know what to expect, or how it will change their sanitation and hygiene needs before reaching this stage.
Perimenopausal women need effective menstrual hygiene, user-friendly bathing and laundry infrastructure, and adequate water supply for regular washing and drinking to manage perimenopausal symptoms. Effective communication and hygiene promotion can help women to understand the perimenopause and menopause, and enable the WASH sector to meet their needs.