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What is period poverty?

An Always Confidence & Puberty Survey revealed that nearly 1 in 5 American girls have either left school early or missed school entirely because they did not have access to period products. At puberty, a girl’s confidence plummets, with the onset of menstruation marking the lowest moment for many girls. But the drop in confidence is so much worse for girls that lack access to period protection. It can force her to miss out on important confidence-building activities in the classroom, on the field, in extra-curricular school programs, and limit her potential far beyond puberty. While lack of access to period products is typically associated with girls in other countries, period poverty isn’t just someone else’s problem. It’s happening right here in North America.


Menstruation is challenging enough for women. Between cramps, heavy bleeding, and a general feeling of fatigue, that “time of month” can be a real hassle. But for some, a monthly period is more than a minor annoyance; it’s a time of humiliation and distress.

—  Sheramy Tsai, registered nurse

Period Poverty in the

United States

  • For reproductive-age women, that time of the month means time to shell out money for the products: about $7 monthly per person on average, according to a group that advocates for the exemption. And each time they do, they’re also paying the 4 percent state sales tax.

  • Many states exempts candy and soda from taxation, but still enforce a tax on menstrual products.

  • High school nurses in some cases provide limited feminine hygiene products to students with emergencies, but due to the "Pink Tax" and the overall cost of female menstruation care products, nurses simply cannot keep up with the demands of the students.

  • Advocates say having to jump through hoops for menstrual care can be traumatizing, especially for school-age children living in poverty. Students who can't access pads or tampons often can't concentrate in class, risk bleeding through their underwear, and are forced to miss class or school altogether, falling behind on lessons and grades. 

  • Many critics claim governments can't afford to supply sanitary products on the taxpayer's dime. Advocates say providing free tampons and pads is equivalent to stocking toilet paper and hand soap — both of which are federally regulated by US Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

Source: Save the Children’s second annual End of Childhood Report

"Every girl, no matter where she lives, deserves the opportunity to develop the promise inside of her."

- Michelle Obama 

  • Federal programs designed to help low-income families, such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children exclude menstrual products, even though the FDA considers them "medical products.

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children consider feminine hygiene products to be luxury items in the same category as cigarettes and alcohol.

  • Nearly 1 in 5 American have missed school due to lack of feminine hygiene products. 

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