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Managing Menses with Disabilities part 2

Physical disabilities and periods

There’s a wide spectrum of physical Disabilities and within each category, individual abilities vary. A few examples; multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, epilepsy, visual impairment, cerebral palsy, limb amputation, and more.

Some barriers often faced by those with a disability include:

  • Lack of educational materials that cover advice for women with different abilities and body types
  • Accessing the right support and answers
  • Insufficient infrastructure in public bathrooms to aid all abilities, which can make basic hygiene procedures more challenging and increase risk of health problems

Although people with physical disabilities can experience menstruation in much the same way as non-disabled women, they are often found to have more negative symptoms such as heavy periods (menorrhagia) and painful periods (dysmenorrhoea).

The management of menstruation can prove difficult for some with limited physical functions. After all, tampons can be a fiddly business at the best of times. Though applicators can make things slightly easier, inserting and removing one, or doing the same for a menstrual cup, just isn’t an option for some. Plus, those who have the help of a carer for hygiene may not feel comfortable with someone else doing this.

In many cases, sanitary towels (and perhaps period-proof underwear) are the best choice, though they can still be challenging to change. They present a less intrusive option for carers, and can be essential for those who do not have sensation below the waist and therefore can’t always tell when their period is on its way, or already there.

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