Period Poverty and How You Can Help to Tackle It · By Holly Ann Golightly
3 in 10 young women unable to afford or access period products while in lockdown
Sadly, period poverty is not a new thing in the UK. In households where there is not enough money for food, period products have to come second. Before lockdown, it was reported that 49% of girls missed at least one day of school when they were on their period. Some girls were missing up to a week of school every month. Rather than face the embarrassment of using alternatives such as clothing and toilet paper, they opted to stay at home. A study showed that before the lockdown, 1 in 10 women aged 14-21 could not afford period products. This has been exasperated by the pandemic when households have been further squeezed. Plan International UK’s survey in April 2020 showed this has now increased to 3 in 10. With schools being closed, girls have also lost the support of teachers and school nurses who had been providing period products to students where needed.
Stigma and impact on health
Periods are seen as dirty, unhygienic and something which should be private. There have been times in my working life when I have popped a tampon up my sleeve when going to the bathroom and been embarrassed when one was on my desk. I feel ridiculous now, but this is the society we live in. We need to have open dialogue, education and support. There should be no shame or stigma around this healthy and natural thing our bodies are able to do each month.
Being a teenager and a young woman can be an anxious time. Period poverty has been linked to anxiety and depression and many women are too embarrassed to seek help. Equally concerning is that women who cannot afford period products, use the products they can get for longer than the recommended time and this puts them at a higher risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
Back in December, I wrote an article about sustainable periods, as I had just purchased a LUÜNA period cup from a zero-waste market in China and wanted to share my experience. I wrote the article because I was concerned about the environmental impact of period products and how much waste was produced from just one period. I was pleased to have found a sustainable alternative. However, I was writing this from a very privileged position. There are women who are using socks and toilet paper and would be happy to have period products of any description.
Recently, I was contacted by Millie from LUÜNA naturals, the awesome social impact period care company who I’d met at the market in China. They’d seen my article and were excited to tell me more about themselves and their mission in Asia and now the U.K.
Buy a cup, give a cup! – LUÜNA
LUÜNA is one of the first social impact period care companies in Asia tackling stigma, sustainability and period poverty. Olivia, the founder and CEO, and Millie, Head of Marketing and Partnerships, were both students at Leeds university before heading out to Asia. Their mission is to make periods better; for our bodies, for our planet, and for our sisters in need, by creating healthy and planet friendly products. LUÜNA is an Asia-born company about to launch their products here in the U.K.
LUÜNA’s mission is to ensure that all people with periods can adopt toxin-free and plastic-free period care unhindered by shame, taboos and misconceptions about their bodies. Alongside providing knowledge and education, LUÜNA have set up an initiative that for every period cup purchased, one will be donated to a menstruator in need. Buy a cup, give a cup!
To celebrate their UK launch, LUÜNA have teamed up with Girl Gang to provide an exclusive discount for the community. Readers can use GIRLGANGLUUNA at the checkout to receive 35% off their period cups. For every cup purchased, one will be donated.
LUÜNA and Girl Gang have also teamed up to offer a free online period workshop for the Girl Gang community to provide key information and support on using sustainable period care, as well as offering a space to openly talking about menstruation. Keep an eye out on our socials for the date and booking info.
If you are interested in purchasing a period cup, or finding out more about LUÜNA, their website is: https://luuna-naturals.com/
Finally, in case you need more reasons to use sustainable alternatives…
In addition to the environmental benefit, there are health benefits too. Did you know that our vaginas are the most absorbent part of our bodies? Traditional feminine care products use a combination of synthetics and conventional cotton, which is grown using toxic pesticides. These chemicals can cause irritation and have been linked to chronic health conditions, including cancer.
LUÜNA cups are made with super soft, medical-grade silicone with flexy-fit technology which moulds to your shape. As a first time user, I found it really easy to use. In my previous blog post, I have tackled some frequently asked questions about how to use period cups.
I understand that these are not for everyone as you have to be comfortable with internal products. But if you are currently a tampon user and looking for a more eco-friendly and healthy alternative, this is an excellent option.