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The Reality of Unhoused Women having their Periods

Unhoused women experienced period poverty and struggled to acquire and afford menstruation products. They frequently face difficulties since they do not have access to menstruation supplies. 

When a woman experiencing homelessness gets her period, she faces a number of issues. For example, unhoused women usually cannot find a clean, private area to change and use menstruation products. The public restrooms they have access to are dirty and unsuitable for changing menstruation products. Furthermore, unhoused women are turned away from both private and public housing due to the stereotypes and stigma associated with them. 

According to Dr. Polly Hardy-Johnson, a teaching fellow at the University of Southampton, “Even as paying customers, women were subject to stigma around assumed drug use, limiting their access to bathrooms. Being able to pass as ‘not homeless’ was more difficult when women were unable to maintain menstrual health”. 

Dr. Hardy-Johnson also mentions that not having access to a bathroom causes infections and increases expenses such as laundry service due to blood stains on clothes. 

Moreover, if menstrual products are not available to women experiencing homelessness, they are frequently forced to shoplift or sell their food money for menstrual products. They also ration complimentary menstruation products, prompting unhoused women to request multiple per day, even when feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable. 

Furthermore, when faced with a lack of menstrual products, unhoused women made do with their limited resources. Instead of menstrual products, they utilized sponges, clothing, cut-up t-shirts, toilet paper, and repurposed soiled menstrual products. 

Additionally, women experiencing homelessness suffer not only physically but also mentally from a lack of access to menstrual products. Unhoused women frequently feel ashamed, and their dignity declines. They also feel like they have to hide their period cycles and feel criticized, which creates anxiety and pain. 

Women without housing suffer a variety of consequences as a result of a lack of menstrual products. Period poverty among unhoused women needs to be addressed swiftly through increased access to free menstrual products and support services. Providing these basic necessities can help decrease the physical and emotional burden that unhoused women face on a daily basis. 

Reference: 

https://www.southampton.ac.uk/news/2024/03/homeless-womens-experiences-of-period-poverty.page#:~:text=A%20review%20of%20research%20published,do’%20due%20to%20inadequate% 20provision.

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