Menstrual Practices in Operational Military Women


Name: Angela Phillips

Rank: Maj

Organization: TSNRP

Performance Site: Joint Base Andrews

Year Published: 2019

Abstract Status:


Military readiness is one of the most prominent issues among U.S. military leadership and commanders. All military members bear the responsibility for maintaining their readiness status, including medical readiness. Women have unique readiness needs in terms of health and hygiene, including during the time of menstruation. Previous studies have evaluated military women’s knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and menstrual practices in deployed settings; however, no published studies examined these issues in operational military women, who while working a routine job, must maintain their military readiness and be prepared to deploy at any time. Feminist research perspectives provide a lens for this study, focusing on the importance of language and ways of knowing in the unique population of military women. This study aims to explore military women’s experiences with menstruation and menstrual suppression in the military culture in an operational setting. The research question is: What are active duty U.S. Air Force women’s practices and experiences towards menstruation and menstrual suppression?

Along with feminist theory, ethnography will be used as the philosophical underpinning for the study. The proposed study design includes ethnographic methods such as observations, artifacts in the form of a questionnaire and interviews with key leadership, and focus groups. All study findings will be analyzed together to provide a triangulated and cohesive answer to the research question. The study will include active duty women from the 11th Security Forces Group at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Protection of human subjects will be maintained in this study through IRB approval, continuous monitoring with mentors, and the evaluation of trustworthiness of the data. This study will advance military nursing science by exploring how military women manage menstruation in an operational setting, and how their menstrual practices in the day-today military culture allow them to sustain military readiness.