Also known as menstruation stigma, period stigma is a broad term for the discrimination faced by people who menstruate......
What Is Period Stigma?
Also known as menstruation stigma, period stigma is a broad term for the discrimination faced by people who menstruate.
From physical problems like a potential lack of access to sanitation supplies, to the verbal shaming of menstruating people as "dirty" or "unclean," period stigma results in a lower quality of life for those who are faced with it. In developing nations, this can be even more harmful.
Menstruation is normal and natural, occurring monthly for about 40 years for those who have wombs.
Lack of Access to Supplies
While this problem is most notable and damaging in developing nations, it exists prominently in America as well.
For example, many college students struggle with a lack of access to menstrual products.Until recently, many states had a "tampon tax" or "period tax".
Globally, impoverished people often cannot afford sanitation supplies, taxed or not, and may be forced to lose economic opportunities such as work because of not being able to safely leave their homes while menstruating.
While menstruation huts have been outlawed in many countries after causing death to their temporary residents, separation of menstruating people continues due to a belief that they are "impure." People being temporarily separated while bleeding may lack access to everything from sanitation supplies to food and water.
How to Normalize Menstruation
Discuss Periods Openly, Without Shame
The simplest action a person can take to end period stigma is to not take part in discussing it vaguely. By speaking about any topic openly, we help to remove the societal rule against discussing it. This can be done with friends and family, work colleagues, acquaintances, or on a broader scale.
Workplace and School Policy
People who create policy in education establishments and workplaces can help end period stigma by ensuring that anyone menstruating has access to needed supplies.
Most importantly, people who menstruate should not be separated or punished for doing so, and policies in a school or workplace stating that clearly will make for less stigma.
Mental Health Benefits of Period Normalization
With the above actions, period stigma can be significantly reduced, if not eliminated completely. Beyond the tangible benefits such as less missed work, removing period stigma would have a positive emotional impact on everyone who menstruates. People would be less stressed about the subject, feel less worried when they needed to discuss it, and stop feeling shame.
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