For some individuals, their period is nothing more than a slight inconvenience. However, this is not the reality for everyone. A study by Thinx and the nonprofit Period found that 1 in 5 teens have struggled to afford period products, and more than 4 in 5 teens have missed class or know someone who has had to miss class because they did not have any period products.
What is Period Poverty?
Period poverty refers to a lack of access to period products, as well as a lack of education surrounding periods. People associate period poverty with poor countries, but even in the United States millions of people suffer due to period poverty. In the U.S., period products aren’t covered by national food stamp programs, and many states still tax them. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this issue—rates of poverty skyrocketed, making it a struggle to put food on the table, much less buy tampons, pads, liners and other menstrual supplies each month.
Reducing Stigma through Education
A person’s first period is a big moment in their life they will never forget. Some people are excited for this milestone while others feel scared and confused. The stigma that still surrounds periods keeps people from feeling comfortable in their own skin and can negatively impact their mental health. Better educating all people in period health will help eliminate the stigma and help people feel more confident in their bodies. Below are a few common myths about periods.
Top Period Myths
Having your Period is Shameful
Periods are a normal part of a person’s life and a sign that you are healthy. Don’t let anyone make you feel embarrassed for having a period—after all, according to Global Citizen there are 800 million people who menstruate daily.
Everyone’s Period is Exactly the Same
A “normal” period can look different for each person. The length of a menstrual cycle can range from 21 to 35 days, and many people will have an irregular cycle, especially when they first start menstruating. The length of a period can vary as well; for some people it may last 2 days, while for others it can last 7 days. It is also normal for people to experience different symptoms. Common symptoms include cramps, acne, and fatigue. While there is a broad range for what is considered normal, it is still important to discuss these things with your doctor to ensure that everything is healthy.
You Can’t Swim During your Period
Your period doesn’t have to hold you back from doing your usual activities. Swimming while on your period will require you to wear a tampon or menstrual cup, but there is no reason you can’t enjoy a day at the pool if you’re on your period. The same goes for exercising or playing sports. There are even period swimsuits and workout bottoms for those who do not feel comfortable using tampons or menstrual cups or want some extra protection.
Only Girls Menstruate
Trans boys and non-binary youth may also menstruate. It is critical to bring awareness to their experiences so they have a voice during conversations on menstruation.
If you or your child have questions or concerns about their period, be sure to contact your primary care provider.