Breaking the Cycle: On Menstrual Hygiene Day and Beyond
May 28th is Menstrual Hygiene Day— an opportunity to break the silence, smash period stigma, and raise awareness for period health all across the globe.
Underwear for Everyone
To recognize this incredibly important movement, all month long our little sister brand KT by Knix has been partnering with PERIOD— a youth-fueled nonprofit that champions menstrual equity and distributes period products all across North America. Their goal? To end period poverty and stigma through service, education and advocacy.
For every order in May, KT will donate a pair of their teen Period-Proof Underwear to PERIOD so they can distribute them to young people who don’t have access to period products. Our goal this month is to donate 10,000 pairs of Period-Proof Underwear. Click here to donate, and read on to learn more.
The Menstrual Hygiene Crisis
On any given day, there are 800 million people menstruating all over the world. And not all of these people have access to education about their bodies, hygiene resources like water or waste disposal, and period products that help them manage their time of the month safely and with dignity.
Menstrual health and wellness are affected by a variety of things that all intertwine with one another. But while period poverty caused by lack of resources and stigma has always existed, it’s a problem that’s only heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a recent study by Plan Canada they found that now more than ever, menstruating people all over the world experience:
- Less access to products due to shortages, store closures, and supply chain disruptions
- Less access to facilities that help them clean and dispose of period products safely
- Less information about how to manage their period
- Less access and availability of clean water
- Increased stigma around menstruation
Lack of access to period products
Everyone’s period is different, but the average menstruating person has a total of 456 periods in their lifetime. That equals about 2280 days bleeding— which is roughly 6 entire years.
During that time, you have to buy tampons, pads, cups, and period underwear to manage the bleeding. Then there’s pain medication, hot water bottles, snacks, acne medication, birth control, new sheets or clothes if you’ve leaked— which all leads up to one thing: an incredibly expensive flow. If you break down the cost of a period, it all comes down to about $18,000 in an entire lifetime.
Not only are period products expensive but they’re also difficult to access— especially the last year due to COVID-19. With border closures and delivery disruptions, mail has slowed down or become unreliable especially in smaller or remote areas. This makes it more difficult for stores to source protection like tampons and pads. And when they are carried, Plan Canada reports that the prices of these period products are inflated— making them even harder to afford.
With less protection available, this may lead people to reuse products, or leave them unchanged for longer periods. This could lead to serious health problems, with infections, Toxic Shock Syndrome, UTI’s and in even some cases— infertility arising.
Lack of access to menstrual hygiene education
With lockdowns happening all over the world due to COVID-19 and students being out of school— it’s led to young people having less educational resources available to them. But we’re not just talking about curriculum. Without the immediate connection of teachers, friends and health workers, it’s harder to connect with others to learn more about how their body works. This is even truer in areas where people don’t have access to the internet.
COVID-19 aside, periods are still stigmatized. They can still be thought of as dirty or shameful— so they can be excluded from school education, or even just barred from talking about at home safely. Not to mention the greater discrimination trans, non-binary or intersex people face when it comes to their periods.
Simply put: people don’t always have equal opportunity to learn about their periods and how to care for themselves during it— both physically and emotionally.
Lack of access to water
Think about your period routine. Think of the showers or baths you take during it. The laundry machine that washes your clothes. The tap that you wash your hands under.
Having access to clean water and a reliable water source is such an essential part of managing menstruation safely. Not only does water prevent infections, but it also simply allows people with periods to go about their daily lives comfortably regardless of whether they’re bleeding or not.
How You Can Help
Organizations like PERIOD work to help advocate for menstrual education and eradicate period poverty. Help us donate Period Underwear so they can distribute to those who need them.
Throughout the year, consider donating new period products to local shelters or other non-profits in your neighborhood. Find organizations like PERIOD who do advocacy work— they'll provide resources on how to talk to legislators and decision-makers about policy change and the importance of access to period products in schools, shelters and prisons. Research community options— it all starts at home. Let’s do this together.