Understanding Gender, Contraceptive Use, Sexual Activity, and Social Status in Relation to Menstruation on Beloit College’s Campus
Lincoln Michelle Budasi ’21, Mangilao, Guam
Majors: Biochemistry; Literary Studies
Menstruation is a biological cycle that involves vaginal bleeding and a plethora of health effects within vagina-owning individuals. This research aims to understand the experiences of menstruating Beloit College students, particularly how menstruation has impacted or been impacted by gender, contraceptive use, sexual activity, and social status.
Quantitative research data was gathered through an anonymous survey. Survey participants were menstruating college students between the ages of 18-22 and of different genders. Qualitative research data was gathered through voluntary in-person and virtual interviews.
Research results suggest that menstruation experiences vary significantly across the Beloit College population. Menstruation has the ability to empower or inhibit gender identity; because of societal expectations of menstruation and gender, individuals who identity as non-binary, transgender male, genderqueer, and genderfluid may experience gender dysphoria because of their ability to menstruate. Menstrual product preference is based on bleeding, comfortability, living conditions, and/ or sustainability. Contraceptives have been used to help menstruation, but it has also positively and negatively affected menstruation in many individuals. Menstruation can impact sexual activity with partners because of physical discomfort, psychological discomfort, clean-up, and partner(s) uncomfortability. Participants agreed that menstrual products are expensive, marketed towards feminine interests, and should be free and provided by their college institution.
These results can aid on-campus resources and clubs like the Health and Wellness Center (HWC), the Sexual Health and Reproductive Choice Coalition (SHARCC), the Feminist Collective, and the Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) in their efforts to provide for the needs of menstruating students.