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An Oxford University study says while many girls and women stay away from school and work because of the stigma attached to having periods, very little research has been done into whether programmes set up to tackle the problem are actually working.

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Although current results are 'promising', the study concludes that policymakers need to carry out large, comprehensive reviews of such programmes, and also conduct research into any potentially damaging unintended consequences, such as 'outing' menstruating girls in cultures where such behaviour is still considered taboo.

The authors of study, published in the journal, PLOS One, carried out an exhaustive review of all available academic literature. They found some interventions appear to show positive effects for reducing absenteeism and combatting girls' feelings of shame and insecurity. However, worldwide, only eight trials have been conducted on the topic. Only three of these tested the value of providing sanitary products; two of these were small pilot studies.

The paper remarks that although governments, international organisations and local charities have invested money and resources into ways of helping girls cope with periods, without testing the programmes there is little evidence to support them as the most effective use of scarce funds.

Read more on the University website (opens new window)