What is period poverty?


 

Half of the population menstruates and 1 out of four menstruators has struggled to buy period supplies due to lack of income. People who do not have access to period supplies are unable to participate in daily activities outside the home, forcing children to miss school and adults to miss work. This is period poverty and the effects are harmful to the physical and mental health of our community. 

To make matters worse, period supplies are not eligible to buy with government aid program funds like SNAP and TANF. And unlike other paper products pads and tampons are not routinely provided in public bathrooms. 

COVID-19 has only made the problem worse

A 2021 study in partnership with the Alliance for Period Supplies reports:
A quarter of Black (23%) and Latina (24%) people with periods strongly agree that they’ve struggled to afford period products in the past year.
27% of all respondents said the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult to access period products, with two-thirds (65%) of those who have struggled stating they lacked access because they could not afford them.
Over one-third (38%) of low-income menstruators report missing work, school or similar events due to lack of access to period supplies.
Nearly seven in ten (68%) people agree that period poverty is a public health issue, yet only 4% of Americans are aware of a local resource where free or reduced cost period supplies are available.

The social stigma surrounding menstruation makes the problem worse, people over age 34 reported feeling embarrassed, ashamed, depressed or isolated because they could not access menstrual products (U by Kotex®, 2021)

Period OKC table at a festival with boxes of tampons and a volunteer giving away free period supplies

Period Poverty Facts

  • Each year in the United States people spend more than $2 Billion on menstrual products (Healthline, 2018)

  • In Oklahoma 1 in 5 people of menstruating age live below the Federal Poverty Line (Alliance for Period Supplies, 2021) and food stamps do not pay for menstrual products