A new survey reveals that 25 per cent of women in Canada are forced to choose between buying menstrual products, like pads and tampons, or paying for other necessities like food and rent.
In partnership with Leger, Plan International Canada surveyed 1,000 women 18 and older online in April 2023 for its The Hidden Cost of Periods: A Canadian Perspective report.
The survey found that 82 per cent of respondents say that products like pads and tampons are expensive. Meanwhile, 82 per cent of women in Canada support having free menstrual products provided in public bathrooms.
Looking at the stigma associated with menstruating, 20 per cent of women say they have been subjected to judgment or unfair treatment due to their periods.
The study also revealed that period-related stigma largely impacted younger women. Seventy-eight per cent of women between 18 and 24 years old said they felt they had to hide the fact that they were on their period at school or work, while a staggering 51 per cent felt they also had to hide this at home.
Fifty-four per cent of women in that age group say they’ve felt embarrassed talking about PMS, while 52 per cent think the word “period” is considered an inappropriate word in Canadian society.
Overcoming Menstrual Stigma
Looking at ways to overcome menstrual stigma, the survey found that menstrual health education is lacking. In fact, 65 per cent of respondents say either they did not receive any menstrual-health education at all, or the education they did receive was not comprehensive.
Meanwhile, data also shows that people are keeping their cycles on the down low. Fifty-two per cent of people said they avoid discussing menstruation with men they know due to shame or discomfort. Meanwhile, 37 per cent of women won’t even talk about their periods with their friends.
“Period poverty should never limit a person’s potential,” Saadya Hamdani, director of gender equality and inclusion at Plan International Canada, said in a statement.
“By breaking down the stigma and providing access to menstrual products and education, we can create a world where everyone can fully participate in all aspects of life.”