Period poverty project: Much needed during COVID-19
Date published: 22 October 2020
Dr Anita Sharma
South Chadderon Health Centre Patient Participation Group is involved with The Period Poverty Project: very much needed at this difficult time of COVID-19
Period poverty refers to having limited access to menstrual products due to financial constraints.
Research by Plan International UK found that 1 in 10 girls can't afford to buy menstrual products and 40% of girls have used toilet roll as a substitute.
A survey of more than 1,000 girls found nearly half were embarrassed by their period and many were afraid to ask for help because of the stigma (freeperiods.org).
Poverty affects minority populations considerably. Some individuals must give up buying food to purchase menstrual products.
Being a GP with special interest in women’s health I got involved because period poverty can cause urinary tract infections, thrush and fatal toxic shock syndrome. Anxiety and lowered self -esteem can occur due to limited participation in day to day activities.
In the UK, a large proportion of Muslim women are from the Asian, Arab and Black community.
In these communities, there is a taboo around the use of products that are inserted, especially before marriage, including the use of tampons (small tubes of cotton wool that can be inserted to absorb the blood).
As a result, the majority of women tend to use menstrual pads (strips of padding that have special absorbent material that soaks up the blood) and this is what is passed down generation-to-generation.
Margaret strongly believes that our project will allow women to access products that meet their needs. She said:
"PPG has been raising money by book sale in the surgery.
"The menstrual products are accessible within the surgery premises, delivered to local mosque and also neighbourhood school and church."
Dr Anita Sharma GPwSI Gynaecology
Margaret Heywood: Chair of PPG South Chadderton Health Centre
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The views expressed are those of the author of the letter and not those of Oldham Chronicle.