2 out of 5 young Americans don’t feel prepared for their first period
New York, NY– To mark International Women’s Day, Plan International USA (Plan) and the Always brand are releasing a new report entitled, Menstrual Health & Hygiene “It’s Time to Talk.” The findings indicate 85% of girls and young women agree that if they heard others talking openly about periods, they would feel more confident about their own. In the U.S., people are more comfortable talking openly about sex, STDs, politics, and family issues than they are about periods.
“It is hard to believe how much shame and secrecy there is worldwide around something as normal as periods,” says Tessie San Martin, President and CEO of Plan. “Menstruation should be a subject that is spoken about openly and intentionally to help educate and empower young people. Yet, in this report, we see that the lingering taboos around periods compromise a young person’s confidence during puberty, a formative time in their lives.”
The report, which sheds light on the negative effects of period stigma in society, is a compilation of newly uncovered data and in-depth historical research and analysis conducted by Always and their research partners throughout the years. It underscores the importance of having open conversations about periods and offers educational guidance to facilitate discussions that help eradicate period stigma.
"This newly released report by Plan International USA and Always confirms what many of us have known for years: that period stigma inflicts serious harm on young women," said Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) who is expected to reintroduce the Menstrual Equity for All Act. "For too long, periods were only spoken about in secret or in whispers; it was mere bathroom talk or something to be embarrassed about. We must be able to talk about periods freely and without shame. We must be able to name it and discuss it – so that we can address the injustices of period poverty. After all, period poverty impacts so many facets of our society – from education to housing, and from our daily livelihoods to our workplaces. Access to safe and affordable menstrual products is a basic need and a healthcare right for over half of our population; it is a human right.”
Data gleaned from this report include:
- 2 in 5 young people don’t feel prepared for their first period.
- 1 in 4 young people don’t know why some people get periods and how to manage them.
- 58% of young girls lose confidence at puberty and starting their period marks girls’ lowest point in confidence during their teenage years.
- Since the pandemic, nearly 1 in 4 women are worried about their ongoing ability to afford period products, rising to nearly 1 in 3 among parents More than 1 in 3 young people have been shamed or teased because of their period.
“For more than 35 years, Always has been committed to providing free educational resources and creating positive social norms around menstruation to ensure young people, and their supporters, are prepared to navigate puberty with confidence,” says Jennifer Davis, President P&G Feminine Care. “This report further highlights the critical need to continue to elevate this issue and ensure that everyone is equipped with the information needed to have period conversations. By talking openly about periods, we can normalize what is in fact a normal part of life.”
The report also highlights the fact that nearly 3 out of 4 young women believe that boys and men need to be involved in the conversation about periods to encourage all of society to get involved, thus reconfirming that everyone has a role to play in challenging period stigma.
Other key actions identified as critical to ending period stigma and period poverty by 2030 include:
- Improving the intentionality and standards of period health and education across the U.S.
- Continue addressing the lack of access to period products that too many people still face today.
- Elevating the voices of young people who are already leading the charge against period shame.
Always and Plan have joined forces to Lead with Love with Acts of Good in support of equality. To help provide a place for these period conversations, Plan USA and Always have enabled a website where people can go to share their period stories and experiences. For every story shared from International Women’s Day, March 8th, to Menstrual Hygiene Day, May 28th, Always and Plan USA will donate a pack of Always to those in need. You can go to www.planusa.org/its-normal-period to participate.
To learn more, the Menstrual Health & Hygiene “It’s Time to Talk” Executive Summary can be found at always.com/ItsTimeToTalk.
About the research
Menstrual Health & Hygiene “It’s Time to Talk” Report is based on 11 studies fielded in the U.S. between 2014 and 2020, by independent research agencies, including Glocalities, an international research agency specialized in consumer values. The most recent survey was conducted in partnership with Plan International.
Always , the world's leader in menstrual protection, offers a wide range of pads, wipes, and liners designed to fit different body types, period flows, and preferences. For over 35 years, Always has been empowering millions of girls globally through puberty and confidence education, providing products to those in need, and tackling societal barriers to their confidence through the Always #LikeAGirl movement. Together, Always believes we can create a world where neither periods nor gender get in the way of young people reaching their full potential. Please visit www.always.com for more information.
About Plan International
Powered by supporters, Plan International USA partners with adolescent girls, young women and children around the world to overcome oppression and gender inequality, providing the support and resources that are unique to their needs and the needs of their communities, ensuring they achieve their full potential with dignity, opportunity and safety. Founded in 1937, Plan is an independent development and humanitarian organization that is active in more than 80 countries.