Around the world, women are shamed for having a monthly visit from their uterus. There have always been taboos surrounding periods, but that does not mean that governments should deny access to menstrual products worldwide.

Reducing stigmatization about periods so will improve accessibility. Periods are a basic human function. Through this rough time of the month, many women and people with uteruses experience complications such as cramps, acne breakouts, bloating, headaches, rapid changes in mood and insomnia. 

People with a menstrual cycle should not have to worry about the outer consequences of dealing with periods. All this occurs every month, continuously stripping them of their dignity and confidence.

Period poverty is the lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual education, toilets, hand washing facilities and waste management. People who lack access to menstrual products are at a greater risk of infection due to unsanitary hygiene. This can be caused by insufficient cleaning during this time of the month. Many individuals worldwide resort to using various ways of dealing with their periods other than the typical pads and tampons due to the unaffordable prices.

union bathroom menstrual products

Photo of an on-campus dispenser of free menstrual products

Additionally, the Pink Tax presents an issue. It is a tax on female hygiene products, including pads, tampons and razors. While Pink Tax is a general term, it includes many discriminatory import and export taxes, regulations and sales taxes on everyday items.

A study from The Balance shows that women pay 13% more for personal care products than men. These additional taxes considerably impact the prices of items, especially in developing countries where the income level is low. In the average woman’s lifetime, about 80 years, she will spend approximately $107,031 more than men due to the Pink Tax. 

Across the world, many countries place restrictions on people who are on their period. For example, in India, some women are not allowed to serve food. In Nepal, some women are banished to sheds and not allowed to attend school. These imposed restrictions negatively impact women and put them at a considerable disadvantage as they fight for their education and personal rights.

Even in developed countries like the United States, many young individuals are not well educated on sex, hygiene and menstruation. These young people then make assumptions. They often try to make themselves seem more intelligent by mocking what they do not know, in this case, periods.

The underlying reasons that limit access to menstrual products are the lack of support from male figures. This can happen through teasing from school-age boys, stigmatizing culture, inadequate sanitation and limited economic resources to purchase period products.

If female individuals were less subjected to the consequences of a taboo around periods, it could have tremendous global effects. Women could leave their shame about their periods behind and encourage others to help those who need to embrace the truth that periods are a natural human function, and they should not feel the need to hide it. 

If periods did not have such a stigma around them, more people worldwide would have greater access to safe, cheap and ample feminine hygiene products. By implementing programs that encourage breaking the stigma around periods and giving women access to affordable and safe solutions to handle their periods, people can give girls back their education, freedom and confidence.