different period products scattered on a red background

Period poverty & shame

October 5, 2022

Period poverty describes the obstacles that millions of people with periods face worldwide to get themselves necessary menstrual health products and access to safe (menstrual) healthcare. At first, you would think this problem concerns only the developing world.

But taking a closer look at taxes and public access in some developed countries reveals this:

  • In 30 of the 50 U.S. states period products are still subject to sales tax.

  • 10 EU member countries still have “luxury” taxes as high as 20% on period products.

  • 3 in 10 girls in the UK have struggled to get period products during the lockdown in 2020.

This is closely connected to shame and prejudice. There are still places in the world where you are considered dirty or unsanitary while on your period, where you are excluded from social life and activities while on your period, where you are openly shamed about your period. And then there are those places where the shame has dug itself so deep into social norms, policy making, and even our own subconscious that we don’t even know how to tackle this insidious undercurrent. Where even when we try to create change, we are still faced with the many flavors of this shame and ignorance.

Any womb-bearing founder of any menstrual health company or womb-bearing social activist has on their journey been confronted with statements such as these:

  • “It’s always been this way.”

  • “It would be too expensive to look into this.”

  • “Is it that time of the month again?!” (when displaying any kind of emotion in any “professional” setting, really)

  • “Enough progress has already been made.”

  • “There is no (more) demand for this.”

So what can we do then?

We need to openly approach and embrace our nature, by:


Track your cycle; get to know yourself, first. What patterns do you recognize in your own cycle? Where is your body trying to tell you to slow down, and when do you usually feel energized enough to go all out?


Rewrite your own inner stories around your cycle and menstruation. What would happen if you treated yourself extra-gently in preparation of and during your period? If you saw it as a chance to reflect and


Talk to your menstruating friends & colleagues. How do they feel about their cycles? Have they made similar experiences? How can you support one another?

Speaking up

Talk to non-menstruators whom you feel safe with. Share your stories, both the old and the new versions, and share your experiences. Maybe they can become your allies?


If you are affected by this yourself, sign petitions and do whatever you can to change this. Ask for help; this is where allies will come in handy. If you are not directly suffering from this kind of poverty and restricted access yourself, become an ally! Support companies that work towards that same purpose.