Lack of Availability of Menstrual Products: Important Problem to Consider

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These typical products should be available in women’s restrooms.

Challis Payne, Staff Writer

Upon walking into most female public restrooms, expectations for the setup are relatively low: nothing fancy as they only need to serve a few simple day-to-day functions. It’s typical for the bathrooms to be clean and stocked with hand soap and toilet paper, with plenty of spares to be found if needed. All those things are provided free of charge and without question. The one thing missing within these bathrooms: access to menstrual products. Why don’t female menstrual products get the same treatment when they are arguably just as essential as toilet paper and soap within female restrooms?

According to Helping Women Period, “from the time of her first cycle to menopause, the average American woman will have around 450 periods in her lifetime.” WebMD stated that American girls are entering puberty at around 10 years old, increasing the chance of menstruating early. Many young girls also have irregular periods, meaning that they could come to school unprepared and perhaps face an embarrassing situation. All of this means that girls are not just starting their periods earlier than normal, but that some are unaware of the natural process happening within their bodies. 

The Independent provided research from a period education study that showed women and girls continue to suffer from a lack of menstruation awareness, stating that “Nearly half of girls (44 percent) do not know what is happening to them the first time they have their period… [and] a majority of women felt scared (60 percent) or embarrassed (58 percent), and half did not feel confident enough to tell anyone else they had started their period.” The first step in effectively educating both girls and boys on this topic and eliminating this stigma is to create a welcome, trustworthy, and open environment.

More and more young girls are entering school unprepared should they suddenly start their cycles during the day. Those same girls may be too embarrassed and scared to ask another female student or even a teacher or if they have accidentally bled through their clothing. They become more embarrassed by having to leave the privacy of a bathroom just to go and acquire a menstrual product. Additionally, when girls must take their entire backpack into the restroom during class, it announces what may be to them a highly personal and private bodily function to everyone.

Menstrual products are largely viewed as luxuries rather than the necessities they truly are, which is an issue that must be acted upon in public restrooms across America. Working to eradicate menstrual stigma is critical for achieving equity in a society where women are encouraged to hide their periods.