RELATABLE YET RELEGATED

 

Our new report on the consequences of hiding menstruation away, and what we can do to create change

We’ve been working with Discover AI to understand the everyday experiences of menstruation across the UK. Using AI technology, Discover AI have gathered rich and relevant content from across the internet to develop important insights into the hidden, everyday experiences of menstruation, and their impacts across the life course. 

 

Our report shows that menstruation is not solely a monthly occurrence or something that is only an issue when there is a ‘problem’. The menstrual cycle is a constant, recurring, daily presence for all people who menstruate. It consistently impacts physical and emotional wellbeing, healthcare outcomes and individuals’ participation in public life, with all of this being magnified for minoritised people who menstruate. 

There is an undeniable gap between how periods are experienced and cared for, and the support available in England. We think it's about bloody time that we stop pretending that periods don’t exist, and instead show that the needs of women and people who menstruate actually matter- with appropriate policies, product provisions, legislation, education, healthcare and other support mechanisms in place.

Through our research, we found that...

Periods are an often-unpredictable everyday stressor. The practicalities of menstruation - along with the pain, cost and other impacts - can make periods an everyday source of stress. This is exacerbated by the unpredictability of periods and the added financial implication. 

Periods are expensive and unaffordable for many. The current treatment of women and people who menstruate is at odds with the basic human right to respect, dignity, education and a life free of discrimination. 

Periods are often overlooked by healthcare professionals. Medical professionals can miss the warning signs of heavy, irregular or changing periods, or how they intersect with chronic illnesses.

Periods are an added burden for asylum seekers and refugees. Navigating numerous challenges in a new country, as well as the continuous fear created by a hostile environment all have substantial and wide-ranging implications on a person’s menstrual cycle. 

Periods are typically challenging in the workplace. In the majority of workplaces, many people are navigating menstrual shame and access to products, which can have a real effect on people's workplace wellbeing and professional success.

 

WHAT DO WE BLOODY KNOW?

Quite a bleeding lot actually. 

24% of people who menstruate in the UK say they or their family have struggled to afford period products in the last year.

13% who currently have periods say it is likely that they will be unable to afford period products in the next 12 months.

61% said if period products were cheaper or more free products were available, it would improve their mental health or well-being.

20% people who can't afford period products are coping by using makeshift materials, such as loo-roll or sponges.

Data from Water Aid's 'In the Red' 

"A PAD FOR ME, OR A NAPPY FOR MY BABY?"

In a report published in 2019, Bloody Good Period teamed up with Women for Refugee Women to show that asylum-seeking women in the UK are prevented from accessing vital period products.

The testimonies of four asylum-seeking women show: 

  • Asylum-seeking women are being forced to go without food and other basic needs in order to purchase period products.
     

  • Period poverty is negatively impacting women’s physical and mental health, causing infections and stress. Women are resorting to using tissue and/or strips of clothing or bath towels in place of appropriate period products.
     

  • Period poverty is preventing asylum-seeking women from rebuilding their lives with dignity. 

  • This is another mechanism in the UK's 'hostile environment' policy against women seeking safety in the UK. 

PERIODS & MENSTRUAL WELLBEING

IN THE WORKPLACE

In 2021, our Bloody Good Employers (BGE) program conducted research with over 3000 respondents — both employers and employees — to understand how periods affect people in work. Our findings, underline the need for change, but also demonstrate the positive opportunities from menstrual equity.

 

Our report underlines the need for change, and opens up conversations about what we do next to further menstrual equity in the workplace.