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“A Comparison of the Menstruation and Education Experiences of Girls in Tanzania, Ghana, Cambodia, and Ethiopia” (2014), by Marni Sommer, T. Mokoah Nana Ackatia-Armah, Susan Connolly, and Dana Smiles
In their 2014 article “A Comparison of the Menstruation and Education Experiences of Girls in Tanzania, Ghana, Cambodia, and Ethiopia,” hereafter “Comparison of Menstruation,” researchers Marni Sommer, T. Mokoah Nana Ackatia-Armah, Susan Connolly, and Dana Smiles examined various physical and social barriers impacting women’s management of menstrual health across Ghana, Cambodia, and Ethiopia. The authors examined barriers such as misinformation about menstruation and how schools limit girls’ ability to manage their menstrual cycles.
Thesis: Socioeconomic and Cultural Ideas of Endometriosis in Low and Middle-Income Countries: A Narrative Literature Review
Endometriosis is a condition characterized by the growth of the endometrium, or the tissue that lines the uterus, outside of the uterus, and it is diagnosed through the presence of endometriotic lesions in the pelvic region. The disease is most often associated with abnormal and painful vaginal bleeding.
Format: Essays and Theses
Thesis: Overcoming a Cycle of Shame Through Menstrual Education: How Sources of Information Prepare Girls to Detect and Treat Abnormal Menstrual Bleeding
Developing a codebook of definitions and exemplars of significant text segments and applying it to the collected data revealed several themes. For example, mothers, friends, teachers, the Internet, and social media are among the most common sources of information about menstrual hygiene and health. Yet, women reported that those sources of information
often echoed stigmatized ideas about menstruation, eliciting feelings of shame and fear.
That poor quality of information was instrumental to women’s abilities to detect and
report abnormal menstrual bleeding.
Format: Essays and Theses
Subject: Reproduction, Disorders
“Beyond Menstrual Hygiene: Addressing Vaginal Bleeding Throughout the Life Course in LMICs” (2017), by Marni Sommer, Penelope A. Phillips-Howard, Therese Mahon, Sasha Zients, Meredith Jones, and Bethany A. Caruso
In “Beyond Menstrual Hygiene: Addressing Vaginal Bleeding Throughout the Life Course in LMICs,” hereafter “Beyond Menstrual Hygiene,” Marni Sommer, Penelope A. Phillips-Howard, Therese Mahon, Sasha Zients, Meredith Jones, and Bethany A. Caruso explored the barriers women experience in managing menstruation and other forms of vaginal bleeding in low and middle-income countries, which the researchers abbreviate to LMICs. The medical journal British Medical Journal Global Health published the article on 27 July 2017.
Subject: Reproduction, Publications
Menstrupedia Comic: The Friendly Guide to Periods for Girls (2014), by Aditi Gupta, Tuhin Paul, and Rajat Mittal
Menstrupedia published the comic book Menstrupedia Comic: The Friendly Guide to Periods for Girls, hereafter Menstrupedia Comic, in July 2014 in India. Aditi Gupta, the founder of Menstrupedia and a women’s health activist, wrote Menstrupedia Comic while studying at the National Institute of Design in Gujarat, India, in 2013. Gupta worked alongside her husband, graphic designer Tuhin Paul, who provided the illustrations for the book. According to Menstrupedia, misconceptions and taboo surrounding menstruation in India prompted Gupta to develop the book.
Subject: Publications, Reproduction, Outreach
Amenorrhea as a Menstrual Disorder
Amenorrhea is considered a type of abnormal menstrual bleeding characterized by the unexpected absence of menstrual bleeding, lasting three months or longer. Menstrual bleeding typically happens approximately once a month when blood and endometrial tissue, or tissue lining the inside of the uterus, sheds from the uterus through the vagina. Menstruation is expected to stop with pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause, or the natural cessation of the menstrual cycle at an older age.
Subject: Disorders, Reproduction
A Toolkit for Integrating Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) into Humanitarian Response (2017), by Marni Sommer, Margaret Schmitt, and David Clatworthy
In October 2017, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, New York, and the International Rescue Committee published A Toolkit for Integrating Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) into Humanitarian Response. Researchers Marni Sommer, Margaret Schmitt, and David Clatworthy collaborated on the Toolkit to benefit women and girls in Lebanon, Myanmar, and Tanzania. The Toolkit serves as a guideline for humanitarian organizations to ensure better menstrual hygiene management, or MHM, in low and middle-income countries.
Dysmenorrhea as a Menstrual Disorder
Dysmenorrhea refers to painful menstrual bleeding and often includes symptoms such as cramps in the lower abdominal region, pain radiating down to the thighs, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and headaches. There are two types of dysmenorrhea, called primary and secondary dysmenorrhea, which develop in different ways. In cases of primary dysmenorrhea, people experience painful cramps before and during most of their menstrual cycles, which does not happen as a result of a different underlying condition and is mostly due to hormone imbalances.
"Comfortably, Safely, and Without Shame: Defining Menstrual Hygiene Management as a Public Health Issue" (2015), by Marni Sommer, Jennifer S. Hirsch, Constance Nathanson, and Richard G. Parker
In July 2015, Marni Sommer and colleagues published “Comfortably, Safely, and Without Shame: Defining Menstrual Hygiene Management as a Public Health Issue,” hereafter “Defining MHM,” in American Journal of Public Health. The authors discuss that growing interest in the gender gap in education raised awareness about girls’ obstacles to managing menstruation, especially in low-income countries. Increased focus on MHM pushed menstruation to be redefined as a public issue rather than a private one.
Period. End of Sentence. (2018)
On 5 April 2018, the documentary Period. End of Sentence. premiered at the Cleveland International Film Festival in Cleveland, Ohio. In the documentary, Rayka Zehtabchi, the director of the film, documents the stigma surrounding menstruation in India and follows a group of women in Kathikhera, a rural village in the Hapur district of India, as they manufacture and distribute sanitary pads.
Days for Girls (2008– )
In 2008, Celeste Mergens founded the organization Days for Girls to address obstacles impeding women’s and girls’ access to sustainable hygiene and health education by enlisting volunteers around the world to construct reusable menstrual hygiene products for girls in low-income countries. Mergens founded Days for Girls in the US in 2008 after learning that an orphanage she was working with in Kenya did not have resources for girls to manage their menstrual cycles.
NovaSure Endometrial Ablation
NovaSure is a device for endometrial ablation, which is a procedure that removes the endometrium, that the US Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, approved for use on 28 September 2001. Endometrium is the tissue that lines the uterus. NovaSure destroys the endometrium by sending electric beams at the endometrium. Hologic, a medical technology company concerned with women’s health, developed NovaSure to treat menorrhagia, or heavy bleeding during menstruation. Menorrhagia is a common symptom of endometriosis. Endometriosis is the growth of the endometrium outside of the uterus.
Endometriosis is a medical condition that involves abnormal growths of tissue resembling the endometrium, which is the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus. Those growths, called endometrial lesions, typically form outside the uterus, but can spread to other reproductive organs such as ovaries and fallopian tubes. Endometrial lesions swell and bleed during menstruation, which can cause painful and heavy menstruation, as well as infertility.
Subject: Disorders, Reproduction, Theories
Menstrual tampons are feminine hygiene devices, usually made of absorbent cotton, that are temporarily inserted into the vagina for absorbing a woman’s blood during menstruation. In 1931, Earl Haas invented the menstrual tampon most commonly used in the twenty-first century. Later, Gertrude Tendrich produced the first commercial tampon brand, Tampax, using Haas’s patented design. Tendrich and Haas’s tampon was made of tightly compacted absorbent cotton, shaped like a bullet, and had a string attached at the base that allowed for easy removal from the woman’s body.
"The Premenstrual Syndrome" (1953), by Raymond Greene and Katharina Dalton
In 1953, Raymond Greene and Katharina Dalton, who were doctors in the UK, published The Premenstrual Syndrome in the British Medical Journal. In their article, Dalton and Greene established the term premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The authors defined PMS as a cluster of symptoms that include bloating, breast pain, migraine-headache, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and irritability. The article states that the symptoms begin one to two weeks before menstruation during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, and they disappear upon the onset of the menstrual period.
Subject: Publications, Reproduction
Menstrual Hygiene Management in Low-Income Countries
Menstrual hygiene management, or MHM, is a concept that concerns girls' and women’s access to the appropriate information and resources to manage menstruation. In December 2012, the Joint Monitoring Program, or JMP, was one of the first organizations to define MHM as a global development goal. Since then, other organizations like WaterAid and the United Nations have expanded MHM’s definition to include menstrual education that is biologically accurate and free of taboo and stigma.
Clinical Tests of Estrogen Injections on Women with Abnormal Menstrual Cycles During the Early 1920s by Jean Paul Pratt and Edgar Allen
In the early twentieth century US, Jean Paul Pratt and Edgar Allen conducted clinical experiments on women who had abnormal menstrual cycles. During the clinical tests, researchers injected the hormone estrogen into their patients to alleviate their menstrual ailments, which ranged from irregular cycles to natural menopause. The hormone estrogen plays a prominent role in the menstrual cycle by signaling the tissue lining the uterus (endometrium) to thicken in preparation for possible pregnancy.
Estrogen and the Menstrual Cycle in Humans
Estrogen is the primary sex hormone in women and it functions during the reproductive menstrual cycle. Women have three major types of estrogen: estrone, estradiol, and estriol, which bind to and activate receptors within the body. Researchers discovered the three types of estrogen over a period of seven years, contributing to more detailed descriptions of the menstrual cycle. Each type of estrogen molecule contains a slightly different arrangement or number of atoms that in turn causes some of the estrogens to be more active than others.
Subject: Theories, Reproduction
Katharina Dorothea Dalton (1916–2004)
Katharina Dorothea Dalton was a physician in England in the twentieth century who defined premenstrual syndrome (PMS) as a cluster of symptoms suspected to begin one to two weeks before menstruation and disappear upon the onset of a new menstrual cycle. Prior to Dalton, there was little research on pre-menstrual issues and those that existed linked the problem to excessive water retention or estrogen. Dalton hypothesized that PMS resulted from a deficiency in the hormone progesterone and advocated for hormone replacement therapy to lessen the symptoms of the syndrome.
Symptoms Associated with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS is one of the most common reproductive conditions in women, and its symptoms include cystic ovaries, menstrual irregularities, and elevated androgen or male sex hormone levels. During the 1930s, Irving Freiler Stein and Michael Leventhal identified the syndrome and its symptoms. Women who experience symptoms of PCOS may also experience secondary symptoms, including infertility and diabetes. Though estimates vary and the causes of the syndrome are not clear as of 2017, PCOS affects approximately ten percent of women of reproductive age.
The figure depicts three different molecular structures of estrogen found in mammals’ that differ by the arrangement of bonds and side groups. The molecular structures of the three estrogen molecules differ by the arrangement of chemical bonds and side groups attached to the core steroid structure, cholesterol, which contains three cyclohexane rings and one cyclopentane ring.
Subject: Theories, Processes, Reproduction
Lydia Estes Pinkham (1819–1883)
Lydia Estes Pinkham invented and sold Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound, a medicinal tonic used to treat menstrual discomfort and promote female reproductive health in general, in the US during the nineteenth century. Pinkham also founded Mrs. Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company, a business that sold natural remedies for women’s health issues. Throughout her life, Pinkham acted as an authority on female wellness, writing medical pamphlets about female anatomy and reproductive processes.
Our Bodies, Ourselves (1973), by the Boston Women's Health Book Collective
Our Bodies, Ourselves, a succession to a pamphlet of resources pulled from co-ops of women in and around Boston, Massachusetts was published in New York in 1973 by Simon and Schuster. Retitled from the original Women and Their Bodies, Our Bodies, Ourselves was an effort by a group of educated, middle class women to reinforce women's ownership of their bodies. There have been eight editions of Our Bodies, Ourselves, as well as sequels such as Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth and Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause.
Subject: Outreach, Reproduction
Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound (1873-1906)
First marketed in the US 1875, Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound was an herbal medicine used by women to relieve menstrual discomfort and menopausal symptoms in women. The herbal compound was invented by Lydia Estes Pinkham in 1873 in her home kitchen in Lynn, Massachusetts. Pinkham created the compound by mixing alcohol with roots and herbs. The compound was patented, packaged, and distributed by the Mrs. Lydia Pinkham Medicine Company in 1876. The Mrs.
Subject: Technologies, Reproduction
The Sex Side of Life (1919) by Mary Ware Dennett
Mary Ware Dennett, an activist in the US for birth control and sex education in the early twentieth century, wrote an educational pamphlet in 1915 called “The Sex Side of Life, and it was published in 1919. The pamphlet defined the functions of the sex organs, emphasized the role of love and pleasure in sex, and described other sexual processes of the body not usually discussed openly.