Putting Periods in Perspective

Women should never feel apologetic when it comes to menstruation. Especially those who do not have the simple luxury of changing their pants, or taking a shower to cleanse themselves when needed. Women experiencing homelessness and/or poverty also lack the resources for medical help regarding other reproductive matters. This article candidly discusses what the unhoused female population faces.

Once a month, women have to face that inevitable time when their body menstruates. In the United States, the average girl gets her first period at twelve. From their first cycle up to the beginning of menopause, women will have about four hundred and fifty periods in their lifetime! Although it is incredible what the female body can do, it takes many products to aid in this monthly process. This can become quite costly, and for some, there is no option to go to a local store for such products.

More than 16.9 million women live in poverty, meaning there are 16.9 million women struggling to healthily maintain their periods. Instead of sanitary products, oftentimes women facing homelessness free bleed (menstruating without using items to absorb blood flow), or create makeshift products such as pads made from tissues or napkins. Also having a lack of privacy, many unhouse women do not have a place for themselves to cleanse themselves. 

With little to no resources, menstruating individuals experiencing homelessness also have to face the eyes of society. A woman may have had to free bleed, and thus be shamed for having bled through their clothes. Additionally, this creates a new problem of having to find new clothes or a way to clean the material. Although any woman should never be shamed for their body function, sadly, it is a problem that many women suffering from poverty face.

Let us not forget about other reproductive hardships, either. One in ten women is born with endometriosis– a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. This can be extremely painful for a woman, and hard to navigate without guidance from a licensed obstetrician or gynecologist. Not only does an unhoused woman lack resources for medical conditions such as this, but also for pregnancy. 

Unhoused women possess both strength and resilience for maintaining their body’s normal function the best they can. Next time you see a woman who may need a feminine product, don’t shy away from sharing what you may have access to. She may need it way more than you think.


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