On September 15, 2022, Anja Benshaul-Tolonen, assistant professor of economics, published new research in the peer-reviewed journal Women's Health Reports, titled “Cost-Effectiveness and Cost-Benefit Analyses of Providing Menstrual Cups and Sanitary Pads to Schoolgirls in Rural Kenya.” The study analyzes the relative merits of providing menstrual cups and sanitary pads to primary schoolgirls by assessing the effects on health and education, including the impact on disability-adjusted life years and school absenteeism.

The study participants – girls ages 14 to 16 years old who attended 30 primary schools in rural western Kenya – were randomly assigned to one of three groups: The two experimental groups were provided with either menstrual cups or sanitary pads, and the control group did nor receive any intervention.  The cost of the menstrual cup was estimated at $3,270 per year for 1000 girls, compared with $24,000 for sanitary pads. While the menstrual cup intervention was more cost-effective in improving health outcomes, the sanitary pad intervention had a more significant education effect, resulting in a greater reduction of school absenteeism. When considering improvements in future earnings from reduced absenteeism, the sanitary pad program had a net benefit. The menstrual cup may provide a cost-effective solution for menstrual hygiene management in low-income settings. This study outlines a methodology for future analyses of menstrual hygiene interventions.