When that time of the month rolls around, it can often feel tedious but it’s something we just put up with. Yet for millions of girls around the world, their monthly cycle marks a time of dread and worry.
40 million women and girls around the world are affected by period poverty. This has meant that missing school or work has become a reality for many that suffer with period poverty. Read on to learn more.
What is Period Poverty?
Period poverty occurs when women do not buy basic menstruation products because they are unable to afford them. This often causes a significant impact on women’s mental health, intimate relationships, and financial situation.
Education is often forfeited when girls, around the world, are unable to access affordable period products.
A vast amount of charities have been set up in order to tackle the link between period poverty and education in lower income areas around the world.
UK-registered Charity, Freedom4Girls are involved in a number of campaigns that aim to prevent or support the relief of period poverty both in the UK and worldwide. So far, Freedom4Girls have distributed over 4800 reusable sanitary kits to girls in Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, Nigeria and the UK.
Is Period Poverty a Real Thing in the UK?
Fighting period poverty is a battle that’s closer than you think. In the UK:
- 1 in 10 girls cannot afford sanitary products when they are menstruating
- 15% of girls struggle to afford sanitary protection
- More than 1 in 10 girls have had to improvise sanitary protection due to affordability issues
- 48% of girls are embarrassed by their periods
- 49% of girls have missed an entire day of school because of their period
The Cost Factor
The average UK woman will spend more than £18,000 on periods during her lifetime.
The struggle to afford or access safe sanitary protection affects thousands of girls in the UK. Many of those who are affected often miss out on education and job opportunities as a result. So, what is being done about it?
Despite being a relatively wealthy country, there is a growing number of young people in the UK who do not earn enough money to cover basic living costs.
The Scottish government have already introduced an initiative to provide free period products to women in low-income households across the country.
Menstrual Cups – An Alternative
Slowly working their way to popularity, menstrual cups are a great, low-cost alternative to sanitary towels or tampons. Benefits of the menstrual cup include:
- Cost-friendly – A one-off purchase of a menstrual cup means that your savings will soon build up. No more running to the supermarket each month to grab a handful of pads or tampons, a menstrual cup is reusable and can last you up to 10 years!
- Environment-friendly – Sanitary towels and tampons can take between 500-800 years to fully decompose. By using a menstrual cup, you can save the environment from around 16,000 tampons and pads during your lifetime!
- Healthy and natural – Most menstrual cups are made of medical grade silicone, meaning that your body will not be exposed to any harsh chemicals – such as the ones used within the top selling tampon brands in the UK.
Another great benefit that comes with purchasing a menstrual cup is that it can tell you exactly how much blood loss you experience during your period. This can help women who are questioning whether they may have endometriosis. Endometriosis sufferers often experience extremely heavy periods. So, if you visit the doctor to discuss your possibility of endometriosis, a menstrual cup will work in your favour to understand how much blood you are losing during each period.
Endometriosis is one of the most common conditions that results in pelvic pain, being the cause in 30% of chronic pelvic pain cases. It affects 1 in 10 women of reproductive age. Conservative treatments for pelvic pain can include:
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation has been demonstrated as an effective treatment for treating patients with endometriosis-associated pain.
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 Bi, X.L. (2018) Effect of neuromuscular electrical stimulation for endometriosis-associated pain: A retrospective study. Medicine (Baltimore). 97(26): e11266.
 Freedom4Girls (2018) Freedom4Girls [online]. Freedom4Girls UK [viewed 29/11/2018]. Available from https://www.freedom4girls.co.uk/
 Greater London Authority (2018) London Assembly: Single-Use Plastics: Unflushables [online]. Environment Committee [viewed 03/12/18]. Available from https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/plastics_unflushables_-_submited_evidence.pdf
 Menstrual Health Alliance India (2018) Management of Menstrual Waste [online]. MHAI [viewed 05/11/2018]. Available from http://menstrualhygieneday.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/WaterAid_Arundati-Muralidharan.pdf
 PLAN International (2017) Plan International UK’s Research on Period Poverty and Stimage [online]. PLAN International UK [viewed 29/11/2018]. Available from https://plan-uk.org/media-centre/plan-international-uks-research-on-period-poverty-and-stigma