Always Report Sheds New Light on Menstrual Health and Hygiene in the U.S.
10 ways you can help girls and women overcome period-related barriers and improve confidence
Periods shouldn’t be a taboo topic. And every girl should have access to period protection.
But it is taboo. And they don’t have access.
A new report released by Always, in partnership with Plan International, helps shed light on the status of menstrual health and hygiene in the U.S. For more than 35 years, Always has worked to create positive social norms and support around menstruation, providing puberty and confidence education and enabling access to period products to girls in need. Now, the brand is calling on all of us to join them.
Here are the facts and what you can do to help.
Talking about periods is taboo.
While 54% of people ages 18-70 say they support talking openly about periods, only 36 percent actually do. In fact, people feel more comfortable talking openly about sex, politics, family problems and STDs than about periods. Yet 85 percent of young women agree that if they heard others talking openly about periods around them, they would feel more confident.
How to help:
- Talk about periods. Young people’s and women’s feelings toward periods are heavily influenced by those around them and the society in which they live, especially during puberty. Open communication will help drive meaningful progress and raise awareness of issues surrounding menstrual health and hygiene.
- Join the conversation. To help provide a place for these period conversations, Plan USA and Always have created a website where people can share their period stories and experiences. Learn more at www.planusa.org/its-normal-period.
Teasing and shaming is common.
More than one in three young people ages 13-17 have experienced period teasing and shaming. While nearly one in three believe period jokes are harmless fun, they’re causing young people to feel self-conscious, embarrassed and less confident. Despite feeling the most period shame, girls and young women are leading the charge against it by being the most likely to talk openly about periods.
How to help:
- Take a stand against period shaming. If you see or hear someone getting shamed or making an inappropriate joke, explain that it’s a problem and it’s holding girls and women back from living the life they want and doing activities they enjoy.
- Lift up the voices of young women who are already driving change by talking about it. Together, we can normalize periods in society and help young women feel more confident.
There is a low level of understanding about periods. And health education in U.S. schools varies from classroom to classroom.
One in four young people don’t know why some people get periods and how to manage them. Two in five don’t feel prepared for their first period.
School is an important source of period information. However, when puberty and period education was provided at school, many young people said it failed to engage them in being active in understanding their bodies. In U.S. public schools, the health education curriculum is developed at state and local levels within broad national guidelines.
How to help:
- Get smart about periods. The more you know, the more you can help support girls and women — and help steer the conversation about periods in a positive direction.
- Teach others. Education plays a critical role in helping people realize that periods are a natural, healthy part of life — not something to feel awkward or embarrassed about. It enables young people to feel ready and confident to manage their periods.
- Be a champion for menstrual health and hygiene education in your community. Ask about the health education program at schools in your area and help improve the standard and intentionality of menstrual health and hygiene education.
Did you know?
Always and Tampax have provided free puberty and confidence education to U.S. schools for more than 35 years. Co-designed with teachers, medical professionals and experts, the program reaches more than two million young people each year, plus their programs.
Parents play an important role in building knowledge and influencing attitudes.
Parents play an important role in building knowledge and influencing attitudes — but nearly one in three feel awkward explaining puberty and periods to their kids. And nearly one in three moms hope their child’s school talks to them about periods, so they don’t have to.
How to help:
- Lean into the conversation. Don’t let awkwardness or fear hold you back. By creating a safe, open space for dialogue, you can help build trust and the relationship. Plus, you can help girls and women be prepared and feel confident.
Access to period products continues to be an issue in the U.S., especially given the impact of COVID-19.
Research shows that lack of access to period products causes girls to miss school and confidence-building activities. Nearly one in five girls in the U.S. have either left school early or missed school entirely because they didn’t have access to period products. Furthermore, the lack of access also has a negative behavioral, emotional and social impact on girls’ lives.
The COVID-19 environment has made access even more challenging for some. Nearly one in five women have struggled to get period products, and one in four are worried about their ongoing ability to afford them.
Federal and state governments have started to introduce measures to help address the lack of access to period products, but more needs to be done to end period poverty.
How to help: