Anyone who menstruates knows that getting your period can be a pain in the you-know-what. It often comes at the most unexpected and inconvenient times. Getting your period can be annoying for some teens, but for others, it can cause them to miss out on important activities and even attending school simply because they didn't have access to pads or tampons.
Many of us take having pads, tampons or menstrual cups readily available in our bathrooms for granted. A new survey titled State of the Period, commissioned by the company Thinx, which makes period-proof underwear and PERIOD, a non-profit organization that is looking to end period poverty and provides women in need with menstrual products, showed that a staggering amount of teens have missed school due to not having access to pads or tampons when they have their period. More than four in five teens stated that they had either missed a class or know someone who has because they didn't have period products, the study revealed.
"Period poverty is an unacceptable national epidemic. Let's start by acknowledging that far too many students in our schools are unable to afford basic health products like tampons and pads." @nadyaokamoto @mmolland— Thinx (@shethinx) October 21, 2019
Let's start talking about it! @CNN https://t.co/RXgMgETAA5
The study looked at data from 1000 teens between the ages of 13 to 19 and found that not only are there significant economic reasons that many teens don't have access to period products but cultural and structural obstacles are also a big factor. It found that one in five teens have either not been able to afford period products at all or have at least struggled to be able to purchase them. A worrying 61% of those surveyed said they have worn their pads or tampons for more than four hours (putting them at risk of infection and TSS) because they didn't have access to more products. Not surprisingly, 83% of those surveyed found that we are simply not talking enough about the lack of access to period products.
While menstruation is natural and biological part of life for half of the population, the majority of teens surveyed said they were often made to feel shame, embarrassed or self-conscious about their periods. Sixty-four percent said they felt that society teaches shame when it comes to periods, 71% feel self-conscious when they have their period and 69% are embarrassed to bring their period products to the bathroom. Over half those surveyed said they don't feel like their schools even care about them if they don't provide free period products.
Both Thinx and PERIOD are working together to make period products more accessible by lobbying to repeal the so-called "tampon tax" that still exists in 34 states. They are also asking Congress to "pass federal legislation like the proposed Menstrual Equity for All Act sponsored by Rep. Grace Meng that would enable states to use federal grants to provide students nationwide with period products in schools, require Medicaid to cover the cost of period products and let individuals use their own pre-tax dollars from flexible spending accounts to purchase menstrual products."
In an op-ed written for CNN by Nadya Okamoto, Founder and Executive Director of PERIOD and Maria Molland, CEO of Thinx Inc. they state that "Period poverty is an unacceptable national epidemic. Only by acknowledging this tragic reality can we begin to take the steps that we need to dismantle this problem and ensure that everyone has access to the period products they need to live and thrive."