Women urged not to 'risk their health' in new period poverty report

Home-Start in Suffolk chief executive Tara Spence said the county will benefit from a partnership wi

Chief executive of family charity Home-Start Tara Spence worries for the financial cost and health risks for people who menstruate in East Anglia. - Credit: Archant

New survey data suggests one in six people who menstruate in East Anglia have struggled to afford period products in the past year and one in four worry they may not be able to afford them in future.

The East Suffolk Council Period Poverty campaign logo.

East Suffolk Council started their Period Poverty project in 2018 and work closely with businesses, organisations and schools to provide free sanitary products. - Credit: East Suffolk Council

East Suffolk councillor Letitia Smith, cabinet member for communities, leisure and tourism, said: "We are saddened to see these figures as no one should ever have to worry about being able to afford these essential items every month, never mind feeling that they have to take drastic actions which can have long-term, or even fatal, health consequences to manage their periods.

"Clearly more work is needed to ensure we don't leave anyone behind and we want to encourage local businesses and organisations to get involved in the Period Poverty project by becoming a hub to make free sanitary products even more accessible in our communities."

Home-Start chief executive Tara Spence said: "When you add the cost of sanitary products into the mix of food, energy and fuel, what do you choose to buy?

The latest findings are concerning, it worries us that women will potentially risk their health and dignity to save money."

Maria Igwebuike, owner of Maria Callisto in her home studio.

Maria Igwebuike, owner of lingerie business, Maria Callisto, has set up the Trinity Project to raise awareness of issues surrounding menstruation - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Suffolk-based creator of the Trinity Project, Maria Igwebuike worries about an overall lack of awareness surrounding period poverty and said: "Just because we're not talking about it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist."

In a survey conducted by WaterAid, 2000 British people who menstruate aged 14 to 50 were asked to share their menstruation habits and anxieties.

In East Anglia, one in five respondents said they have worn their pad or tampon longer than is recommended to try to reduce costs, posing a multitude of health risks including Toxic Shock Syndrome.

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The survey also suggests that one in seven respondents from East Anglia have used makeshift materials, such as loo roll or sponges, to help manage their period.

With the ongoing cost of living crisis, one in seven have relied on services providing free products and one in five think they will cut back on the number of period items they use to save costs.

One in 11 respondents from East Anglia have missed school or work during their period as a result of struggling to afford period products and one in seven said they or their family had made a choice between buying menstruation items or paying for other essentials in the past year.