Period poverty and menstruation stigma: The Vicious Cycle keeping Women down

We all know that having your period is a necessary evil. It’s something that every woman has to go through, and yet it’s often talked about in hushed tones as if it’s dirty or shameful. The reality is, that periods are a normal bodily function, and they shouldn’t be a cause for embarrassment. But for too many women around the world, having your period means being unable to afford pads or tampons, reliable access to clean water, or decent sanitation facilities. This is called period poverty. And it’s a real issue that needs to be addressed.

The global statistics of period poverty

The following statistics illustrate the reality of poverty during this time period:

  • In developing countries, 86% of women cannot afford sanitary products. In Africa, this number jumps to 96%.
  • 500 million people across the world who menstruate do not have access to menstrual supplies or hygiene facilities.
  • According to a trusted resource, there are approximately 16.9 million people who menstruate in poverty in the United States.
  • One in ten girls in Sub-Saharan Africa misses school because she doesn’t have access to clean water and sanitation facilities during her period. This affects her education and future prospects.
  • Research on college-aged women who menstruate revealed that 14.2% had been in period poverty within the previous year. Every month, 10.0% were in it.
  • Moreover, period poverty also leads to increased rates of infection and disease. In some cases, it can even lead to death.

So what can be done to address this issue? First and foremost, we need to break the silence around periods. They are a natural and necessary part of life, and there should be no shame or embarrassment attached to them. Second, we need to make sure that all women have access to affordable sanitary products, clean water, and decent sanitation facilities. This will help to break the cycle of poverty and enable women to lead healthy and productive lives.

Limited Research & Development on period poverty

There is currently limited research and development on period poverty, especially when compared to other areas of poverty. This lack of research means that we do not fully understand the scale or prevalence of the problem, nor do we have definitive solutions. There are a number of possible reasons for this limited research, including:

  • The taboo nature of periods: Because periods are seen as taboo or embarrassing in many cultures, it can be difficult to get people to talk about their experiences with period poverty. This makes it hard to collect reliable data.
  • Lack of funding: Research on period poverty is often not seen as a priority for governments or donors, so there is little money available for it.
  • Lack of awareness: Period poverty is not as well-known as other forms of poverty, so it can be harder to generate interest in researching it.

Despite these challenges, there is some essential research that has been conducted on period poverty. This research has helped to shed light on the problem and has led to some potential solutions. Going forward, it is important to continue investing in research on period poverty so that we can better understand the problem and find effective ways to address it.

The consequences of menstruation stigma

Menstruation stigma is a form of discrimination that results from the negative social attitudes and beliefs surrounding periods. This stigma can have a number of consequences for women and girls, including:

  1. Health problems: Menstruation stigma can lead to health problems by making it difficult for women and girls to access clean and safe sanitary products, clean water, and toilet facilities. This can in turn lead to poor menstrual hygiene and an increased risk of infection.
  2. Educational problems: Menstruation stigma can also lead to educational problems by preventing women and girls from attending school or working during their periods. This absenteeism can have a negative impact on women’s and girls’ educational attainment.
  3. Economic problems: Menstruation stigma can also lead to economic problems by preventing women and girls from participating in the workforce. This can limit women’s and girls’ economic opportunities and worsen gender inequality.
  4. Social problems: Finally, menstruation stigma can also lead to social problems by causing shame, embarrassment, and isolation. This can make it difficult for women and girls to openly discuss their experiences with period poverty or to seek help.
  5. Empowerment problems: Finally, menstruation stigma can also lead to empowerment problems by preventing women and girls from participating fully in society. This can limit their ability to reach their full potential and make decisions about their own lives.

Addressing menstruation stigma is essential to ensure that girls and women can manage their periods with dignity and without shame and live healthy and dignified lives. The stigma around menstruation is a pervasive problem in many cultures, and it can lead to negative consequences such as social exclusion, discrimination, and limited access to education, healthcare, and menstrual hygiene products. To address menstruation stigma, it is crucial to promote open discussions about menstrual health and hygiene, challenge negative attitudes and beliefs around menstruation, and raise awareness of the physical and emotional changes that occur during the menstrual cycle. This can be achieved through education programs, media campaigns, and community outreach initiatives that promote positive messages about menstruation and encourage girls and women to take control of their menstrual health.


Period poverty and menstruation stigma are two interconnected issues that have a devastating impact on women and girls around the world. Together, they form a vicious cycle that keeps women down. We’ve looked at some of the global statistics, as well as the limited research and development on period poverty. We’ve also explored the consequences of menstruation stigma and how it can take many different forms. Now is the time to take action. 

Let’s work together to destigmatize menstruation and break the cycle of poverty and discrimination. To donate to the cause visit https://ppoverty.org/.


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