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Bleeding While Broke: Period Poverty in the United States

2 min read

The phrase ‘period poverty’ has been popping up more and more. Most of us know that it vaguely has something to do with a financial obstacle to period protection. But did you know that period poverty not only goes deeper than that— period poverty is also affecting people all over the United States? Here’s what that means for your fellow American menstruators, and what you can do to help.

What is Period Poverty?

Period poverty is an umbrella term that applies to inequity related to menstruation. This covers not being able to afford period protection items like tampons or pads but also has a wider consequence of people missing school or work because of their inability to access these products. Period poverty also extends to using products for longer than recommended to help ‘stretch’ their supply, which can have negative, even fatal, health outcomes.

How Does Period Poverty Affect Americans?

You might not think a box of tampons or pads costs that much. But according to the US census, more women* live in poverty than men. (Statistics indicate trans individuals also experience higher rates of poverty than their cis peers, making this an obstacle for trans men and non-binary people who menstruate as well). 

Compounding this issue is the fact that menstrual care products are classed as a luxury item in 35 states and thus have a sales tax applied. Additionally, menstrual products are not covered by SNAP benefits. A 2019 study focusing on low-income Americans found that 2/3 had been unable to afford menstrual care products at some point during that year, and one in five had this issue every month. 

What Are People Doing About Period Poverty in the United States?

There are many people trying to make a change to period poverty conditions in the US. Generally on a state level, people are organizing to remove tax from menstrual products. Some are even inspired by Scotland becoming the first country to make period products free. There are also charitable groups working to make donated period products available to more people who really need them in the meantime.

If you want to get involved, may we suggest the charity I Support the Girls? They’re an amazing organization that focuses on supplying essential items like bras, underwear, and menstrual care products to people experiencing homelessness. As they say on their website, “A woman shouldn’t have to choose between feeding herself and her personal health.  Every woman should have the ability to maintain her dignity.”

We couldn’t agree more! To help support this cause, we are partnering with them to donate one Intimina menstrual cup for every cup sold in the US. That means that by buying yourself (or a friend!) a menstrual cup, you will be helping ease the effects of period poverty for someone else. 
So head on over to the Intimina store, or check out some reviews to learn which cup is best for you!

Lane Baumeister

Lane Baumeister is an internationally-based Canadian writer with several years’ experience creating educational and entertaining articles that discuss intimate health and sexual well-being. When not waxing profound about menstruation, she devotes herself to enjoying extremely good food and equally bad movies.

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