“Menstruation is the only blood that is not born from violence, yet it is the one that disgusts you the most”
Period poverty can be defined as access to menstrual products, education, hygiene facilities, waste management, or a combination of these. It is estimated that one in ten college students experience period poverty, yet it is not an issue that is commonly discussed.
I want to focus specifically on the lack of menstrual products, the most prevalent issue for most college students. A pack of pads or tampons could cost upwards of $10, which to a college student, could be money for food. People should not have to choose between basic menstrual hygiene or another basic human need, such as food.
I believe the main reason for period poverty is the stigmatization of the topic of periods. We, as young menstruators, are societally discouraged from discussing our periods, as experienced by whispering to ask if your friend has a pad or discretely hiding that pad on our walk to the restroom. But why do we feel the need to hide something that is so biologically common and natural?
The taboo around discussing periods is slowly disappearing as more people realize it is more biological and less like a dirty secret. These are some things that I do to help lessen the stigma around periods.
- Talk about my period and all of the symptoms that I experience because of it.
This one is easy for me because I like to overshare tastefully. Sometimes, I will be sad, and I know there is no reason other than my period is right around the corner. So when people ask me why I am a little withdrawn, I, without shame, reply that my period is coming.
- Be less ashamed to talk about periods around the men in my life.
This one is more difficult for me, mostly because I am from a culture that considers periods and menstruation taboo, especially when discussing it in front of men or male figures. But I have been actively trying to move away from that, not hiding that I am on my period.
- Lastly, joining an organization such as PERIOD. to actively help menstruators experiencing period poverty
I decided to join an organization like PERIOD. because it would give me a direct opportunity to fight against period poverty. Directly donating products that would be given to menstruators in need is something that I like about the organization.
There are many other ways to combat period poverty, starting with normalizing the topic of menstruation/periods. I encourage everyone to actively do something that minimizes the stigma, whether having an open conversation with someone or just talking about your period as a regular topic.