Urgent Global Issue

What is Period Poverty?

Period poverty is a heart-wrenching reality faced by countless individuals around the world. It is the distressing situation where people lack the means to access essential menstrual hygiene products and hygienic facilities, forcing them to manage menstruation in degrading and unhygienic ways. This introduction delves into the topic, "What is period poverty?", raising awareness about this urgent global issue.
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What are the different ways that people experience period poverty?

No Access Menstruation Products
In underdeveloped countries, the issue of accessibility to menstrual products is dire. Unlike in developed countries where the focus is on debating taxes on these products as basic necessities, here the challenge lies in simply affording the products in the first place.
Forced To Use Unsuitable Substitutes Instead Of Menstruation Products
Due to a huge accessibility issue for menstrual products in underdeveloped countries many girls and women find themselves resorting to using unsuitable substitutes such as rags, newspapers or whatever can be found. This poses a huge risk to their health along with many other factors.
Dropping Out Of School Because Of Embarrassment
This causes huge embarrassment for these girls and women who live in societies where there is a lot of stigma surrounding menstruation. Many girls will choose to skip or drop out of school rather than face disgrace.  This choice has dire consequences on their education and future prospects.
How Do People React To Menstruation

Are There Cultural Or Societal Stigmas Associated With Menstruation That Contribute To Period Poverty?

Menstruation Is Still Considered Taboo
Many African societies endure cultural and societal stigmas surrounding menstruation. Menstruation is often treated as a taboo subject, associated with notions of impurity. This perception can result in the segregation of women during their menstrual periods.
Lack of Awareness & Education Causes Negativity & Shame
These cultural beliefs contribute to a lack of formal education, constrained discussions about menstrual hygiene, and the perpetuation of stigma and shame regarding menstruation. The hesitancy to openly address menstrual health issues further exacerbates the challenge of securing adequate access to menstrual products and appropriate hygiene facilities.
Girls receiving period pads in Africa

What Is The Influence of Period Poverty on Psychological Well-being and Self-perception

Elevated Stress and Tension
Period poverty frequently induces heightened levels of stress and tension as individuals grapple with the challenge of effectively managing menstruation. The financial strain associated with procuring menstrual products serves as a perpetual source of concern, exacerbating stress levels.
Diminished Self-worth and Embarrassment
The hardships stemming from period poverty often result in diminished self-worth. The inability to access essential menstrual products can evoke feelings of shame or embarrassment, adversely affecting one's self-esteem and confidence.
Potential Social Alienation
Period poverty may also foster social alienation, prompting individuals to withdraw from social engagements to evade the difficulties associated with menstruation. Concerns regarding leaks or inadequate hygiene due to limited access to products may lead individuals to shun social interactions, further isolating themselves from their social circles.
Adverse Psychological Ramifications
The collective ordeal of grappling with period poverty can yield adverse psychological consequences. The persistent struggle to manage menstruation amidst challenging circumstances may engender feelings of powerlessness and despondency, thereby contributing to broader mental health challenges.
Menstruation Products Compete With Other Essential Costs

Menstruation Products Are A Financial Burden For Those Already In Poverty

Cost Variation and Components
The average cost of menstrual products varies but generally includes items such as pads, tampons, or menstrual cups. The cost of menstruation products can be a large percentage of a person's daily income. The recurring expense of menstrual products becomes a significant burden for individuals and families experiencing poverty. The need for regular purchase of these items places added strain on limited financial resources.
Buying Essential Items Or Menstruation Products?
Period poverty often forces individuals to make difficult financial decisions. The cost of menstrual products competes with the need for other essential items, such as food or shelter. In situations of poverty, individuals may be compelled to prioritise immediate necessities over menstrual hygiene, leading to compromised well-being.
How Would You Deal With A Period?

How Do Individuals Without Access To Menstrual Products Manage Their Periods?

Extended Utilisation of Disposable Items
In scenarios where access is restricted, individuals might opt to reuse disposable products like sanitary pads beyond their recommended lifespan. This practice not only lacks hygiene but also heightens the likelihood of infections and other health issues. Donate to period poverty so we can provide more girls with access to menstrual hygiene education and products.
Self-Made Solutions
In certain instances, individuals lacking access to traditional menstrual products may explore inventive alternatives. This could entail utilising homemade or community-developed solutions, such as reusable cloth pads or DIY menstrual cups. While these alternatives may address immediate necessities, they may not consistently offer the same level of comfort and safety as commercially available products. Learn more about how we are ending period poverty.
Support from Community and Charitable Organisations
Many individuals encountering difficulties in accessing menstrual products turn to charities or depend on community aid. Non-profit groups like our charity for Africa and local initiatives frequently distribute menstrual supplies to those in need. Nonetheless, the consistency of such support may vary, leaving individuals periodically in need.
How Would You Deal With A Period?

What are the health risks associated with using improvised menstrual hygiene products or going without?

Using makeshift menstrual hygiene products like rags, tissues, or cloth can significantly increase the risk of infection due to their limited absorbency and the warm, humid environment they create, ideal for yeast growth. Symptoms of fungal infections often include inflammation, irritation, and itching. The World Bank cautions that unhygienic menstrual practices can lead to Urinary Tract Infections and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. Additionally, neglecting hand-washing after changing these products can facilitate the spread of infections such as thrush and Hepatitis B.

The use of makeshift menstrual hygiene products without proper sanitation heightens the risk of enduring health issues. If left untreated, infections can progress to more severe complications. Chronic infections may result in pelvic inflammatory diseases, which can affect reproductive health, potentially leading to fertility challenges and birth complications.

Infections stemming from inadequate menstrual hygiene practices, such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, can compromise reproductive health. The spread of microorganisms from the vagina and cervix to the uterus and fallopian tubes may give rise to conditions like endometriosis or salpingitis, impacting fertility and increasing the likelihood of pregnancy complications.

Beyond the physical health risks, the challenges associated with using makeshift menstrual hygiene products or going without can have a profound psychological impact. Feelings of embarrassment, shame, and the stress of managing menstruation in unhygienic conditions can contribute to mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.

How Do We Stop Period Poverty?

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