7 Surprising Stats About Period Poverty That Will Inspire You To Take Action

Why, in 2023, are almost a quarter of teens struggling to get access to period products?

by Lib Aubuchon
Courtesy of Thinx

When it comes to periods, we’ve come a long way in the last few decades – from the diversity of menstrual products now available for managing a period, including the introduction of reusable period underwear like Thinx period underwear, to the general reduction of stigma.

That said, not everyone has access to the products they need to manage their period. Period poverty, a lack of access to menstrual products due to financial constraints, remains a real and pressing issue. Period poverty not only poses health risks, but also affects people’s dignity, self-esteem, and participation in daily activities. Imagine wearing period products for longer than recommended because of a lack of access. At a time when talking about equality and basic rights is more critical than ever, access to menstrual care is a conversation we need to be having.

Thinx, a leading period underwear brand, teamed up with PERIOD., a nonprofit group focused on combating period poverty and stigma, for a new State of the Period survey. While there’s been some improvement in underlying stressors tied to period poverty since 2021, many of the survey’s other findings are, well, not great. Read on for findings from the survey that will open your eyes and inspire you to take action.

The Not-So-Great News: 23% of Teens Still Can't Afford Period Products

Why, in 2023, are almost a quarter of teens struggling to get access to period products? Can you imagine missing school or being unable to complete schoolwork because you can't afford pads or tampons? That's a level of stress no child should have to deal with. *Extremely deep sigh*

More Free Products in School Bathrooms

Celebrate the small wins, right? More teens are finding free crucial period products in school restrooms compared to 2021. But a whopping 25% are unable to do schoolwork because of a lack of access to period products.

One Third of Adults Struggle to Afford Period Products

And 25% of them report wearing period products longer than recommended. Imagine wondering if your tampon is gonna make it through another meeting. Or deciding between eating lunch and spending lunch money on, you know, basic human needs.

44% of Teens are Stressed and Embarrassed Due to Lack of Access

Raise your hand if your teenage years were awkward. Remember the utter confusion and chaos of being in a body that felt different almost every week? It's a wonder any of us survived! Now, imagine adding lack of access to that mix. Oy.

78% of Teens Know More About Frogs Than the Human Female Body

So the good news is teens have questions and would like to have more information and more open communication about their menstrual cycle. They’re more comfortable talking about periods in school than older generations. The bad news? They're getting more info about frog innards than their own bodies. A full 78% of teens say they’re taught more about the biology of frogs than the human female body in school. I’m sorry, what?

A Bright Spot — Stigma is Fading

A large majority of teens agree that they are more comfortable talking about menstruation than their parents’ generation. And that tracks, because adults (41%) are more likely than teens (17%) to report their families feeling uncomfortable discussing periods. While we're over here cheering the decrease in period stigma since 2021, 45% of teens are still feeling side-eyed because of their lack of access to products they need.

Career Fears

If you’ve ever worked in an office, you know the stealth “tampon tucked inside the sleeve” routine. What is that? Why are so many of us still so uncomfortable with our functioning human bodies? A majority (60%) of adults surveyed for the State of the Period say stigma negatively impacts their comfort with their own bodies. And almost half are afraid their career growth could be affected if they request any sort of accommodation related to their period. Spoiler: this dynamic is even more pronounced among lower-income adults.

If these stats didn't get you fired up, check your pulse, bestie. The good news is, companies like Thinx are on a mission to make reusable, high-quality products while also fighting period poverty.

Thinx recognizes that the first step to combating period stigma is to encourage open, honest conversations surrounding periods. That’s why Thinx launched a social pledge on Instagram to donate $1 (up to $10,000) to PERIOD. each time someone reshares Thinx’s post this year to help spread results from the survey. They’re also donating more than 3,000 pairs of period underwear to PERIOD. — another reason you can feel good buying period underwear from Thinx.

Remember, we're all in this leaky boat together. And if we stick together, we can make waves that bring change. Let's be the tide that lifts all boats — period.