Getting their period is a huge moment for a tween or teen, and as parents, we make sure to have open conversations with our kids to ensure they have the necessary products and information to feel confident about managing their period.
That said, not everyone has access to the products they need to manage their period. 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 were some promising improvements from the 2021 study, the takeaway from the most recent study is that many teens and students still struggle with negative associations surrounding periods, and period poverty is still a concern.
Teens Experience Period Poverty
Period poverty is a lack of access to menstrual products, proper hygiene guidance, physical and emotional support and education, or a combination of all of these. Think about going to school, work, or the gym while having your period. Now imagine the hell of not feeling confident that the period products you’re using will last the day, or worse, trying to navigate your day without any products at all.
While this year’s State of the Period survey found that more teens are finding free products in school bathrooms compared to 2021 survey results, 53% of teens still say they rarely or never find free period products in school bathrooms. Meanwhile, we all know period products are as essential as toilet paper … or the athletic budget.
Nearly a quarter of teens (23%) still struggle to afford period products, and a quarter of teens say this interferes with their ability to do their schoolwork. 44% of teens who took the survey said they felt stress and embarrassment because of their lack of access to period products. I remember a time I had to wrap half a roll of toilet paper around my underwear as a teen until I could find a pad. In 2023, this should not still be an issue.
Teens Want To Talk About Their Periods
Long before my daughter got her first period, I peppered in conversations about what a period is and what it looks like. And because there aren’t many situations where her younger siblings aren’t eavesdropping, they got the same information. Talking about tampons, having my son fold his sister’s Thinx period underwear while doing laundry, and offering compassion to anyone in the house who happens to be menstruating is not only “normal” for us — it’s something I expect.
The State of the Period survey confirmed teens want this normalcy too. 76% of teens said they have questions about their periods and want more open communication. 72% said they’re more comfortable than their parents’ generation when it comes to discussing periods. Come on ‘rents — we need to do better than our parents when it comes to this topic.
While teens mentioned at-home conversations are getting better, information at school is still lacking. 78% of the teens said they are taught more about the biology of frogs than the biology of people assigned female at birth. Yikes. Unsurprisingly, this lack of education and avoidance of talking about periods only adds to the stigma. 45% of teens in the survey say they’ve been affected by negative associations surrounding periods.
This isn’t an issue that people simply outgrow — 60% of adults who took the survey reported that period stigma impacts their body image, and 46% worry that asking for period-related accommodations could impact their career growth. Who among us hasn’t smiled and carried on with work duties while our uterus set fire to our abdomen?
How You Can Help
A simple, no-cost way to help end period stigma is to share the results from this year’s State of the Period survey. 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.
At home, talk openly about periods with your kids, no matter their gender. Encourage conversations about all of it — the blood, the potential for mood swings, the seemingly primal need to eat all of the things, and the products. Talk about the expense of having a period and the impact that lack of access to basic period products can have on a person.
Not having access to period products is more than an inconvenience — it’s a barrier to education, self-esteem, and employment. Thankfully, companies like Thinx are on a mission to make reusable, high-quality products while also fighting period poverty. We’re in this together, and together, we can normalize periods and bring an end to period poverty.