Most of us are unaware that May 28th is Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Day. I was 30 years old when I walked down the period product aisle to select and purchase my chosen products with no shame. Normally the experience consisted of me grabbing a basket, shopping for things I did not necessarily need, and using those things to cover and hide my menstrual hygiene products.
Like many girls, women, femmes, and gender-expansive human beings alike, I was stuck in the stereotypical taboo of periods being dirty, disgusting, and disgraceful. The reality is that menstrual cycles are just as normal to women as breathing is – or at least menstrual cycles should be.
Hashtag Happy Period which is the first Black-led organization with a focus on menstrual health education, advocacy, and access, shared that in the United States, alone, “1 out of 4 teens miss class because of lack of access to period products, where 23% of students have struggled to afford period products.”
As a now, 32-year-old woman, I am aware that there is such a thing as period poverty, which is when individuals who menstruate (discharge blood) lack the accessibility to menstrual supplies they prefer to use such as pads, or tampons in order to have a sanitary menstrual experience.
For the lack of better words of expression, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in March 2022, that “there are millions of girls and women who lack access to clean menstrual hygiene products” and continued by stating those same women, “face challenges in maintaining their menstrual hygiene in a private, safe, and dignified manner.” It is not just the lack of accessibility to clean menstrual hygiene products but also the lack of access to safe, private locations such as toilets and clean restrooms to dispose of and properly clean and care for themselves.
Clean and safe menstrual hygiene products should be a human right that all girls, women, femmes, and gender-expansive individuals have access to. It should not be a social issue that causes them to succumb to feelings of embarrassment and shame.
Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) is universally referred to as an essential aspect of hygiene for girls and women between the first occurrence of menstruation and when a woman experiences menopause.
As we spend Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Day (May 28th) bringing awareness to this social issue, here are 5 things you can do and/or use to take control of your personal hygiene using what you may have access to:
- Toilet paper/Toilet tissue
- Plastic Bags
For each product listed above, each can be rolled and stacked to the necessary liking of the individual, when pads, tampons, menstrual cups, or period panties are not accessible. Clothes can also be used to cover and layer in case any blood seeps through your primary clothes. Having access to clean water, or to water at all is also an important factor to consider when managing one’s hygiene.
Want to Help and Don’t Want to Do the Work:
Fundraise a PPE (period protection essentials) machine with Hashtag Happy Period for easy distribution and accessibility to those individuals in your neighborhood who are in need of menstrual products.
Donate to For Women by Women, Period, and help them reach their goal so that they can continue to operate and increase their inventory so they can continue to build care packages.
Purchase one Rubycup menstrual cup and donate two Rubycup menstrual cups to two people who do not have safe access to period products.
Looking to get involved and searching for the necessary resources so your voice is heard (https://menstrualhygieneday.org/actioncycle/)?
Want to Know More, But Don’t Know Who to Go to:
*Dr. Charis Chambers, MD, FACOG (https://theperioddoctor.com)
*The Real Period Project (https://www.realperiodproject.org)
*Period, The Menstrual Movement (https://www.period.org)