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Period Poverty

Period Poverty & Its Impact


Period Poverty is a reality for many all around the world! Period Poverty can be defined as the lack of access to safe and hygienic menstrual products during monthly periods and inaccessibility to basic sanitation services or facilities as well as menstrual hygiene education.  This directly impact one’s ability to navigate daily living activities. The lack of access to hygiene products can cause feelings of both seclusion and exclusion. People stay home from school or work, unable to participate in daily activities.  Period Poverty can impact one’s mental health, resulting in anxiety, shame and isolation.  One’s physical health can also be impacted with a lack of access to proper hygiene, including water and basic hygiene supplies.


How Then Do We End Period Poverty?


Education and awareness are the most effective ways to help remove the stigma surrounding menstruation.  The removal of this stigma and shame that is attached to it is only the beginning.  In any given month more than 1.8 billion people are menstruating. We need to create and share with all genders a message of normalcy around menstruation so that everyone can have dignity, health and an ease of access to supplies to fill their needs.  But again, this is only the beginning. Understanding that these products are a necessity and, therefore, need to be accessible to all in need is the next step.  This requires making them readily available to everyone, especially anyone struggling financially or impacted by harmful social misconceptions or ideologies.  Menstruation should never limit anyone’s potential or ability to function in any situation.


US Statistics and Period Poverty


A 2019 US study found that 64% of menstruators noted that they struggled to afford menstrual products within the last year. Stemming from the cost of products, stigmas, education, and the world pandemic, those who menstruate struggle to afford menstruation products and have adequate education on the subject


The summary of takeaways from that study are:


  • Period poverty, or the lack of information and education about menstruation as well as access to menstrual products, in the US affects all menstruators but especially those who are low-income, homeless, in college, imprisoned, or transgender. 
  • With the recent inflation problems, Bloomberg reported that prices for pads rose 8.3% and tampons prices rose 9.8% in 2021. 
  • A study done by St. Louis University on period poverty found that 36% of those surveyed who were full-time or part-time employed had to miss one or more days of work a month because of a lack of menstrual products during their periods. 
  • Research done on the financial benefit of using menstrual cups estimates over 10 years found that a reusable cup would be 5% of the purchase of pads and 7% of the purchase cost of tampons. A reusable cup would also produce 0.4% of the plastic waste used for pads and 6% of the plastic waste used for tampons. 


The lack of access to period products is directly linked to many social and economical factors.  Period Poverty can be either a lack of access to or an inability to afford to purchase products. As having to choose between food or hygiene products is more and more an increased reality, we all need to work on reassessing how to overcome this issue.  


Next Steps?


Period poverty is a multi-faceted issue. What does that mean? It means it will take a multi-faceted solution.  This includes education, dispelling of myths and misconceptions, normalizing menstruation around the world, addressing basic access to hygiene necessities, economical solutions, eradicating social prejudices, and ultimately creating an environment where menstruation is simply a biological process. Period Poverty is a basic human rights issue that needs to be addressed with the following:


  • They need to have the right to use safe menstrual products during their monthly menses.
  • They need to have the right to a safe and private place to manage their menses, as well as clean water sources and facilities.
  • Everyone needs to have good knowledge about menses to understand the difficulty that a woman has to go through every month.
  • Knowledge of menses can also help avoid negative stigma about menstrual periods. As long as people have a mindset that menstrual products are not a priority, women will always be discriminated against, and it will not be easy for them to purchase menstrual tools, seek help when they are in need, and learn correct knowledge about menstrual health. 

Only by all working together can we help to find solutions to ensure these basic needs are met for all.

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