Socio‑cultural implications for women’s menstrual health in the Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs): a scoping review

Maulingin-Gumbaketi, Elizabeth, Larkins, Sarah, Whittaker, Maxine, Rembeck, Gun, Gunnarsson, Ronny, and Redman-MacLaren, Michelle (2022) Socio‑cultural implications for women’s menstrual health in the Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs): a scoping review. Reproductive Health, 19. 128.

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Background: Globally, experiences of menarche and subsequent menstruation are embedded in social and cultural beliefs, norms and practices. Menarche is an important developmental milestone in sexual and reproductive health (SRH) for females. Menarche is intertwined with socio‑cultural norms, beliefs and practices, which can impact on women’s ability to manage menstruation with dignity. This paper reviews the social and cultural factors that affect women’s ability to effectively manage their menstrual health and hygiene (MHH) in Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs).

Methods: A scoping review was conducted following PRISMA scoping review guidelines and inclusion/exclusion criteria. An online search was conducted for peer‑reviewed publications in Medline/OVID; Medline/PubMED; PsycINFO; CINAHL; Scopus and JSTOR, and Google Scholar. A search for grey literature was conducted in Google Scholar and websites of international and local organizations. Experts in the field also contributed additional references. Extracted data were summarised in an Excel spreadsheet. Searches were conducted between May and June, 2019, and then repeated in July, 2020.

Results: A total of 11 studies were included; 10 qualitative and one mixed methods study. Studies were conducted in Melanesian (n=9), Polynesian (n=1) and Micronesian (n=1) PICTs. All 11 studies reported elements of societal and personal factors; ten studies reported evidence relating to interpersonal factors; nine studies reported elements relating to environmental factors; and two studies presented evidence linked to biological factors. Managing menstrual health with dignity is challenging for many women and girls because menstruation is associated with menstrual taboos and shame.

Conclusion: This review found that the MHH experiences of women in PICTs are affected by social and cultural beliefs, norms and practices. Beliefs, norms and practices about menarche need to be incorporated in SRH planning, programs and education in order to be relevant to diverse village and urban settings.

Item ID: 75124
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1742-4755
Keywords: Menarche, Menstruation, Menstrual health and hygiene, Socio-cultural norms, Practices females, Pacific Island Countries and Territories
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2022. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2022 04:48
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420606 Social determinants of health @ 100%
SEO Codes: 21 INDIGENOUS > 2111 Pacific Peoples health > 211101 Pacific Peoples determinants of health @ 100%
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