It is unfortunate that many individuals who menstruate, suffer in silence due to the many stigmas associated with periods. Children and adolescents lack knowledge about managing their periods safely and hygienically.
Because of this, period stigmas result in health issues, poor health education, and absences from school. All individuals, men and women alike, need to be better educated and have a safe place for conversation. As a result, these discussions will benefit young menstruators and help to eliminate the stigma associated with having their period.
So, what is "period poverty," you ask? This term refers to insufficient access to menstrual products. Millions of menstruators have little access to water, proper hygiene, a private bathroom, or period products. Believe it or not, more than 500 million individuals around the world are experiencing period poverty. One huge problem is how period products are considered a luxury or nonessential rather than a necessity for menstruators.
Menstrual products are not cheap. If you started your period at the age of 13 and by the time you hit menopause at 51 years old, you would've had a total of 456 periods! When the price of a box of 36 tampons is 7 dollars, the total amount menstruators spend on tampons during their lifetime is approximately $1,773.33. However, if you were to use three to five pads a day during one period, you would be spending a whopping $4,752 in total.
In 2021, UltuCup donated a total of 150 menstrual cups to Greater Johnstown High School in Pittsburgh. UltuCup partnered with PERIOD., a youth-fueled non-profit fighting to end period poverty and stigmas. From distributing menstrual products to promoting youth leadership and menstrual equality, PERIOD. is making waves in the industry. During this 12-day campaign, UltuCup donated 28% of all purchases to PERIOD.
Unpacking the Stigma
Some socially constructed opinions about menstruation suggest that it is dirty to menstruate. Various ancient texts and cultures describe menstruation as impure, unclean, and even dangerous. Many menstruators admit they don't feel comfortable speaking about the topic in public. As a result, it is difficult for them to advocate for their access to affordable, safe products.
Each month, 1.8 billion people across the world menstruate. Yet, menstruation is still viewed as a personal problem, one that needs to be taken care of discreetly and conveniently. Stigmas like these make menstruators uncomfortable about their bodies. To finally put an end to the period's stigmas, we must question our current reliance on disposable products.
You might already have noticed the significant increase in reusable menstrual products on the market: reusable pads, period underwear, menstrual cups, menstrual disks, sea sponges, and more. Due to social media, there's been an increase in dialogue regarding menstruation. Being aware of menstrual processes can help you recognize changes in your body.
How to Normalize Menstruation
It is possible to change these stigmas associated with periods. Here are a few ways we can help create a change:
- Inclusive education on the menstrual cycle and proper hygiene.
- Access to safe, environmentally sustainable products.
- Emotional and physical support- a place for menstruators to discuss periods openly and without fear of judgment.
The easiest way to fight the stigma around menstruation is to discuss it openly with others. Inclusive health information and care about menstruation needs to start at a young age. Educate your peers about periods, especially young men. After all, men are responsible for creating a majority of these stigmas. Support legislations fighting to end the tax on period products. Donate menstrual products to those who cannot afford them. Create awareness about period poverty. After all, periods are a natural, shared experience.