When thinking of the extremely poor, one’s mind may not immediately go to the inherent struggles that come with menstruation. This is not just cramping, bloating and irritability, but the associated sanitation issues that may arise without access to proper hygiene, not to mention the stigmatic buzz around womanhood and her period.

Real Relief, a small organization committed to supplying common life sustaining supplies, is devoted to making a difference and has developed a tool for menstruation hygiene for the extremely poor: SafePad, a period game changer in the sanitation industry. While sanitary napkins are nothing new to the women’s hygiene repertoire, SafePad exemplifies what certain basic life necessities encompass and how something so simple can impact the lives of millions of women and their younger counterparts.

The extremely poor cross many cultures as well as economic strains over a variety of different ages, races and religions. There are several different ways in which women have traditionally dealt with their menses. In some cases, these methods may be simply impractical. Rags may be used to deal with menses, but they often take time and privacy to wash and dry. Where menstruation cups may be available, some cultures may not accept this means or view it as reasonable.

Inadequate access to proper sanitation such as soap and clean water can also cause yeast infections, other serious illness or in extreme cases, infertility. When all else fails, women may choose to “free bleed,” which may not seem particularly harmful unless in the context of young girls attending schools in which they may take five or more days of leave, eventually leading to a poorer performance in their classes or even drop out.

Real Relief’s mission led to the production and distribution of SafePad through NGOs, religious communities and relief aid organizations of SafePad. SafePad has been specifically designed to combat bacteria by utilizing silica, nitrogen and carbon treatment agents, provide comfort, discretion and practical solutions to women where access to hygienic means of caring for the menses is difficult or impossible.

SafePad is also reusable and recyclable for women that do not experience reliable waste management in their communities and can withstand up to 100 washes, which translates to four years of use.

Menstruation is a part of most every woman’s life but if not taken care of properly, has the potential to have serious, life-long side effects. Menstrual health, education and supplies, however, can lead to so much more relief. Period.

Casey Hess

Photo: Flickr