Period Poverty: an Epidemiologic and Biopsychosocial Analysis.

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In the United States, approximately one in five persons experience period poverty, defined as the inability to obtain resources needed for healthy, safe, and dignified menstrual management. Limited access to an inadequate number of menstrual supplies may lead to longer-than-recommended use, which can increase skin chafing, disruption of vaginal flora, and intravaginal toxin overgrowth. However, period poverty goes beyond simply having enough menstrual products and can encompass the embarrassment, stigma, shame, and barriers in conversation surrounding menstruation. Discussion and critical examination of the multilayered attributes surrounding period poverty have been intermittent in academic literature, particularly from a domestic lens. Thus, this narrative review and theoretical analysis aimed to describe the epidemiology of period poverty and analyze its biological, socio-emotional, and societal implications. We applied a descriptive epidemiology approach of person, place, and time, and employed a social-ecological lens to examine risk factors. Our findings describe the incidence, distribution, and possible ways to alleviate period poverty. Practitioners, medical providers, and public health professionals may have limited knowledge of period poverty, what it entails, and who it impacts, but they have great potential to address it and associated menstrual inequities in their work. With its widespread implications for psychosocial and community-level health, this phenomenon needs urgent attention to promote menstrual equity as an issue of human rights and social justice. We conclude with research and policy recommendations for alleviating period poverty.


This article was published in Health Promotion Practice.

The published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1177/15248399231192998.

Copyright © 2023 Society for Public Health Education.

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Health Promotion Practice

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