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Period poverty: The perceptions and experiences of impoverished women living in an inner-city area of Northwest England

Parker, Alison, Boyers, Madeleine, Garikipati, Supriya, Biggane, Alice, Douglas, Elizabeth, Hawkes, Nicola, Kiely, Ciara, Giddings, Cheryl, Kelly, Julie, Exley, Diane, Phillips-Howard, Penelope ORCID: and Mason, Linda (2022) 'Period poverty: The perceptions and experiences of impoverished women living in an inner-city area of Northwest England'. PLoS ONE, Vol 17, Issue 7, e0269341.

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The menstrual needs of girls and women are important to health, education, and well-being. Unmet need and harm from poor menstrual health in low-and- middle-income countries have been documented, but with little empirical research undertaken in high income countries. Continuing austerity in the UK suggests menstruators are likely more vulnerable to ‘period poverty’ than previously, with the COVID-19 pandemic assumed to exacerbate the situation.
To explore the menstrual experiences and perceptions of women in the UK who are living under circumstances of deprivation, alongside views of staff working in organisations supporting these women, to understand whether women’s menstrual needs are met.
A qualitative study was conducted in an inner-city in NW England. Three focus group discussions and 14 in-depth interviews were conducted across three study sites supporting impoverished women. Data was analysed thematically.
Themes were: reflections on menstruation; affordability of products; access to public facilities; organisational support; potential solutions. Many women perceived menstruation as a burden in three aspects: physical discomfort and pain; psychological anxiety; and shame and stigma. Managing menstruation was difficult due to cost relative to low incomes, with food, heating and lighting prioritised, leaving women improvising with materials or wearing products for longer than desired. Most suggested that products should be free, often remarking if men required similar items this would happen. Most women were unaware supporting organisations provided free products. Staff felt the small range of products offered did not meet client needs and were ill-prepared to have conversations on products and clients’ menstrual needs.
Impoverished women lack the necessary resources to manage their menses well which negatively impacts their health and brings stress, embarrassment, and shame. Support, including access to free products, is needed at both local and national level to help impoverished women manage their menstrual hygiene.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: WA Public Health > WA 30 Socioeconomic factors in public health (General)
WA Public Health > Health Problems of Special Population Groups > WA 309 Women's health
WP Gynecology > WP 20 Research (General)
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > Clinical Sciences Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Mary Creegan
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2022 11:00
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2022 11:00


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