5 Approaches to Helping Women with Disabilities Manage Menstruation

Women with disabilities require perpetual access to competent obstetrician-gynecologist. This is not as easy for them to achieve as it is for women without disabilities. For example, for women living in or around Athens, a single phone call will get them an appointment with an Athens gynecologist. Nonetheless, this option is not viable for women with disabilities.

Menstruation is a momentous affair for every woman—even more for one living with a disability. More often than not, menstruation is accompanied by complications like dysmenorrhea (painful cramping), heavy bleeding, and PMS related mood swings.

If you couple that with the challenges that come with having a disability, you will realize that women with disabilities need a lot of help to manage their menstrual cycles:

Raising awareness

Get people talking about it. Organizing rallies, annual seminars, lectures, and training camps for gynecologists and the society as a whole will address the stigma and discrimination faced by these women during their cycles.

According to a 2017 survey done on 1000 ob-gyns published in Health Equity, only 21.9% of gynecologists reported being ‘very’ aware of the unique healthcare needs of women living with disabilities. 17.2% of them had received training or information on how to provide this healthcare.

Increasing these numbers will go a long way in cultivating a healthy support system for women living with disabilities.

Modifying infrastructure and implementing policies

Imagine how hard it would be for a woman in a wheelchair to change her sanitary towel in a regular bathroom.

Modifying WASH infrastructure: washrooms, bath units, changing rooms, and laundry rooms in schools, homes, and institutions will increase their accessibility.

Ob-gyn offices and establishments can adopt systems and structures that accommodate these women, say adding wall-rails for the blind. They can also implement favorable policies such as shorter appointment periods for women with disabilities.

Menstrual suppression

An obstetrician-gynecologist performs menstrual suppression in the method preferred by the patient, with their consent. If a patient is cognitively or intellectually impaired, a parent, guardian, or spouse is involved in the decision.

The ob-gyn advises the parties before-hand on possible side effects of menstrual suppression like unscheduled bleeding during the year and slight weight gain.

Availing menstrual suppression to women with disabilities will address concerns about hygiene and the risk of pregnancy for those not ready to conceive.

If proven to be a viable option for a woman with a disability, menstrual suppression will do away with the hustle of having to go through a menstrual cycle.

Increasing access to information

All available information on menstruation and menstruation health can be converted into formats relevant to women with disabilities. This involves using more audio-visual mediums to collect data, printing pamphlets in braille, and making message boards in sign language.

Improving product provision

Manufacturers can design specialized sanitary kits for women with disabilities. These kits should be easy to use, change, and dispose of. They should also be hygienic and last longer.

Retailers, on the other hand, can stock sanitary material in easily accessible aisles and shelves.

Most disabilities manifest as either physical, sensory, or cognitive. They usually elicit reduced mobility making even the most mundane of tasks unattainable. Ob-gyns can expand their services to include house calls.