When I was 13, I remember one Christmas when my cramps were so bad I could not get up off of the couch to go to our family party. My period was raging strong and heavy, and I had already been bleeding for two weeks straight. As bad as this was, I had an Ibuprofen to take, and I could run upstairs and get a new pad when I needed one. Not everyone is this fortunate.

Lack of availability

As many as 1 in 7 menstruators in the United States are living without access to basic menstrual products. They are not covered by the WIC program or food stamps, and in most states are taxed as luxury items. People can be forced to make the choice between food and these basic care items. Many must resort to dirty socks or plastic bags to stop the flow. Organizations focused on helping menstruators in need are, on average, only able to provide two tampons per month per person. Using these alternative items, or wearing tampons for an extended period of time, can lead to toxic shock syndrome and other infections.

"As many as 1 in 7 menstruators in the United States are living without access to basic menstrual products."

Shrinking stigma

Contributing to these logistical barriers is the stigma surrounding periods. Menstrual products are at the top of the list for needs at homeless shelters and food pantries, but they don't advertise that, menstruators don't ask for them, and those in the position to give are completely unaware. Talking about menstruation openly and honestly is the first step towards widespread access to menstrual products.