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2 in 5 Americans have struggled with period poverty. Why are menstrual products still treated as a luxury, instead of a necessity?

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Bags of feminine products for the "Girls Helping Girls Period" charity are seen in South Orange, New Jersey
Shannon Stapleton/REUTERS
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Bags of feminine products for the "Girls Helping Girls Period" charity are seen in South Orange, New Jersey March 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Period poverty is a public health crisis no one is talking about.

A study published in May 2021 found that 2 in 5 people struggle with access to period supplies like pads and tampons, and that number is up 35% since 2018.

In addition to the physical and emotional impact, the inability to purchase these kinds of products can have social and economic implications, as it may cause people to miss work or school.

There are also racial disparities for menstrual equity. A quarter of Black and Latina people with periods strongly agree that they've struggled to afford period products in the past year, according to data from the Alliance For Period Supplies.

The pandemic proved to be another roadblock in the struggle to access period products. Twenty-seven percent of respondents said COVID made it difficult to gain access to supplies, and two-thirds found it difficult to purchase products.

According to the same study, only about 4% of Americans are aware of a local resource where free or reduced cost period supplies are available.

In Texas, 1 in 6 women and girls from ages 12 to 44 lives below the poverty line, which can impact their ability to purchase period supplies on a monthly basis.

Still, thirty of 50 U.S. states — including Texas — still have a tax on tampons and other essential menstrual hygiene products, making it increasingly difficult for some to purchase those necessities.

Why are menstrual products still treated as a luxury, instead of a necessity?

What can be done to improve the status quo and achieve menstrual equity in the U.S. and in Texas?

Click here to register for YWCA San Antonio's virtual Period Poverty & Menstrual Health Panel at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 20.

Guests:

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, October 20.