What To Know About Period Poverty

Period poverty is a lack of access to menstrual products, education, hygiene facilities, waste management, or a combination of these. It affects an estimated 500 million people worldwide.

The above information is from a study that BMC Women’s Health published in 2021.

People who experience period poverty are unable to purchase the menstrual products they need, and, in many cases, this means that they cannot go to school or work or otherwise participate in daily life.

Period poverty causes physical, mental, and emotional challenges. It can make people feel shame for menstruating, and the stigma surrounding periods prevents individuals from talking about it.

Read more to learn about what period poverty is, how it affects people, how to break the stigma around menstruation, and more.

Facts and figures

Below, we list some period poverty statistics:

  • Globally, an estimated 500 million people who menstruate lack access to menstrual products and hygiene facilities.

  • There are an estimated 16.9 million people who menstruate living in poverty in the United States.

  • A study involving college-aged individuals who menstruate reported that 14.2% had experienced period poverty in the past year. An additional 10.0% experienced it every month.

  • Research found that almost two-thirds of women in the U.S. with a low income could not afford menstrual products in the last year, while nearly half sometimes had to choose between buying food or menstrual products.

  • As of June 2019, 35 states in the U.S. taxed menstrual products at rates between 4.7%, in Hawaii, and 9.9%, in Louisiana.

What is period poverty?

Period poverty refers to the social, economic, political, and cultural barriers to menstrual products, education, and sanitation.

Although period poverty is a widespread problem, there is a lack of research on the topic. In 2019, experts from academic institutions, NGOs, governments, UN organizations, and elsewhere came together to form the Global Menstrual Collective to solve this issue.

The Global Menstrual Collective defines menstrual health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in relation to the menstrual cycle.” It notes that people should have:

  • access to information about menstruation, life changes, and hygiene practices

  • the ability to care for themselves during menstruation

  • access to water, sanitation, and hygiene services

  • the ability to receive a diagnosis for menstrual cycle disorders and access to healthcare

  • a positive, supportive environment in which to make informed decisions

  • the ability to participate in all aspects of life, such as going to work and school

How period poverty affects people

Period poverty can affect people in a variety of ways. It can make them feel embarrassed about or ashamed of their periods, and it causes young people to miss out on school due to a lack of menstrual products.

  • Mental health and well being

  • Health and hygiene

  • Work

  • Education

How can we end period poverty?

Period poverty is a global public health crisis requiring serious attention. Some ways in which people can combat period poverty include:

  • National advocacy: Menstruators need the support of their governments to provide adequate infrastructure and access to affordable menstrual products.

  • Increased education and knowledge sharing: Knowledge sharing between organizations, in communities, and in schools can include menstruators in the conversation and provide education without stigma.

  • The private sector: Businesses can provide information and access to facilities and products, contribute to destigmatizing menstruation, and integrate menstruation management into their policies.

  • Evidence-informed charitable programs: Programs can educate menstruators, provide necessary products, and support people and their communities.

  • Further research: More research is necessary on the effects of period poverty and how to combat it.

  • Legislation: Protective legislation can ensure affordable access to proper facilities and menstrual hygiene products. Governments can also reduce taxes on menstrual products, making them more affordable.


Period poverty refers to a lack of access to menstrual products, sanitation facilities, and adequate education. This widespread issue affects an estimated 500 million people worldwide.

Those experiencing period poverty may have mental health challenges and physical health risks. They may also miss school or work and have low self-esteem. The stigma surrounding periods prevents people from openly discussing the issue, and the stigma is even greater for trans individuals who menstruate.

People can contribute to ending period poverty through national advocacy, charitable programs, legislative changes, improved education and access, and further research.

For full article: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/period-poverty

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