For teenage girls, using period products is essential. Without them, they may miss school, feel embarrassed and humiliated, and even develop health problems. Unfortunately, many girls worldwide face what is known as “period poverty.” This means they cannot afford or have access to period products. As a result, they suffer in silence.
Menstrual poverty has a severe impact on adolescent girls. It keeps them out of school, sports and social activities and can lead to health problems. They may also find it difficult to talk to parents or friends about their feelings during their period, leaving them feeling ashamed and isolated. Here, we take an in-depth look at how these issues affect teenage girls and what can be done to help.
Menstrual poverty can lead to physical health problems. For example, girls may use dirty rags or leaves during menstruation because sanitary pads or tampons are unavailable.
This can lead to infections and other medical problems, especially in countries where female genital mutilation (FGM) still exists. Many girls worldwide also lack access to clean water, making it difficult to manage their periods hygienically.
Also, girls who cannot afford period products may try to prolong their periods by skipping meals or taking pills. Unfortunately, this can lead to anemia, other health problems, and negative attitudes toward food.
Period poverty can also negatively impact mental health, with women who are menstrual poor more likely to report moderate to severe depression. Teenage girls, in particular, can also feel isolated and alone if they can’t talk to anyone about what they’re going through—especially when they’re likely to be heavily influenced by the opinions of their peers.
Girls who do not have access to sanitary products may be unable to attend school because they do not want to risk bleeding from their clothes. Or, they may be unable to participate because of a lack of facilities to change period products or because of headaches or cramps.
They may also fear being ridiculed or suffering due to negative stigma. In some countries or areas of society, there are some outdated myths about menstruation, such as female impurity or you can’t cook during menstruation because they will poison the food.
Even if they’re not exposed to anything about that particular situation, they may be afraid of being treated differently during menstruation because some people think women are depressed or irrational during this time. So, if the stigma is severe enough, it may even prevent some girls from going out during their periods.
Girls who cannot afford period products miss out on other opportunities besides missing school. For example, they may be embarrassed to participate in sports or other extracurricular activities, whether because they don’t want to change in front of others or because they worry about leaks.
This is a problem because regular exercise is essential to good health. It helps keep our cardiorespiratory fit, reduces stress, and even improves our mood. As a result, girls who miss exercise due to period poverty may be at risk of poor health. They may also miss out on the natural social aspects of team sports, leaving them feeling isolated.
What can be done to help?
There are ways to help end period poverty, such as providing free or reduced-price hygiene products in schools. By increasing access to these products, we can ensure that all girls have the opportunity to live active and healthy lives.
Schools should also ensure girls have a clean, private place to change sanitary products. It shouldn’t just be in secondary school either – some girls can start menstruating in primary school, so it’s essential to support them from the start.
To sum up
Menstrual poverty is a genuine and urgent issue with profound consequences for adolescent girls. Addressing period poverty and trying to make a difference is everyone’s responsibility—support period poverty organizations.