Body Women’s Health

Period Poverty as a Health Concern

Period poverty, a significant issue affecting females around the world, is particularly prevalent within the Black female community, representing a pressing public health concern. Period poverty is the inability to access menstrual products due to financial constraints, exacerbating the challenges faced by many Black females.

In the United States and around the world, an alarming number of Black females face challenges in accessing menstrual products due to economic hardships and a feeling of shame while asking for the products. The problem is made more complex by the overlapping factors of race, financial gaps, and gender inequity. Studies have consistently highlighted the disproportionate impact of period poverty on Black women and girls, citing systemic inequalities and limited access to resources as primary factors.

The lack of access to menstrual products not only affects menstrual hygiene but also poses significant health risks, including:

  • infections
  • declines in mental health
  • reproductive health complications

As such, the societal stigma surrounding menstruation within the Black community perpetuates shame and halts open discussions about periods. Cultural taboos contribute to the silence surrounding this issue, making it difficult for females to seek help or discuss their needs openly.

Stigma surround menstruation persists in the Black community due to:

  1. Historical factors. Black women have been objectified and sexualized. These perceptions contribute to a culture of shame and silence about natural bodily functions.
  2. Cultural taboos. A small group of people within the Black community consider menstruation to symbolize the girl is no longer pure and innocent.
  3. Socioeconomic factors. Limited access to hygiene products due to financials make it a challenge to manage periods, thus making it difficult to openly discuss.
  4. Discrimination. Black women often face several paths of discrimination based on race, gender, and socio-economics.

Several interconnected factors contribute to the prevalence of period poverty among Black females. Economic disparities, stemming from systemic racism and inequality, play a pivotal role. Black females often face barriers in accessing quality education and employment opportunities, resulting in financial constraints that affect their ability to afford menstrual products.

Finally, racial biases in healthcare exacerbate the problem, with Black females experiencing disparities in medical treatment and access to reproductive health services. This compounds the challenges faced in managing menstrual health and obtaining necessary products. The combined effect of economic hardship, limited access to resources, and societal stigma creates a complex web contributing to period poverty within the Black female community.

Here are 5 ways individuals and communities can contribute to combating period poverty:

  1. Donate Menstrual Products. Contribute to donation drives or organizations that collect and distribute menstrual products to those in need. Donating sanitary pads, tampons, menstrual cups, or reusable cloth pads can significantly impact individuals facing period poverty. A local middle- or high school would also be ideal. Speak to the school counselor or nurse.
  2. Support Advocacy Efforts. Get involved in campaigns and advocate for policy changes that address period poverty. This could involve lobbying for free or subsidized menstrual products in schools, workplaces, and public spaces, as well as supporting legislation to eliminate sales tax on menstrual products.
  3. Educate and Raise Awareness. Spread awareness about period poverty and menstrual health through educational initiatives. Encourage open conversations about menstruation to break the stigma and create a supportive environment where individuals feel comfortable discussing their menstrual needs. Remember, as long as we talk about it, it will no longer be stigmatized.
  4. Volunteer with Organizations. Offer your time and skills to organizations working to address period poverty. Volunteer at local shelters, community centers, or non-profit organizations that provide menstrual resources, educational workshops, or support services to individuals in need.
  5. Support Community Initiatives. Engage with community-led initiatives that aim to address period poverty. Participate in fundraisers, events, or drives organized by local groups to collect menstrual products or raise funds for distribution to marginalized communities.

We urge you to take part in these efforts. We all can contribute to alleviating period poverty and promoting menstrual equity, while ensuring that everyone has access to essential menstrual products and the necessary resources to manage their menstrual health with dignity.

Further Reading:


About the author

Stephen Earley Jordan II

Stephen Earley Jordan is the lead writer, editor and founder of Elevate Black Health. He has 25+ years in the public health and pharmaceutical marketing industry. He has worked on various public health campaigns for various organizations, including New York City Department of Health. Campaigns include: smoking cessation, healthy children, trans fat, HIV/AIDS, Flu Vaccines, Safe homes, and more. Jordan has worked with multicultural divisions to ensure all literature was translated into six additional languages for the specific targeted demographics. Jordan has also spent time in the pharmaceutical marketing industry, and worked on various marketing campaigns for oncology, rheumatoid arthritis, probiotics, medical devices, facial fillers, thyroid- and dry-eye diseases, and numerous rare diseases. He has assisted in the production of print and digital pieces alike.

Leave a Comment