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Period Power: Homelessness and Periods In The U.S.
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Period Power: Homelessness and Periods In The U.S.

Photo courtesy of The Wayfarer Foundation, Photo by Josh Telles.

If you’ve been keeping up with our #PeriodPower blog series, you might have noticed that we’ve been shedding some light on why periods are powerful in society, not just in developing countries but right on our front door step too.

From girls missing out on school to period shaming through the media, we’ve still got a long way to go for menstruation equality! That’s why we’re all about the #PeriodPower this year.

So far we’ve talked about how people are affected by attitudes towards periods in different walks of life including prisons, the workplace, and what you can do to support the #PeriodPower movement. Today’s topic covers another taboo we often try to ignore – homelessness. How does being homeless affect their period? Let’s dive in.


According to the 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress of the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, it was estimated that 39 percent (215,709 people) were women experiencing homelessness. A little under 61 percent were men, and less than 1 percent identified as either transgender or non-binary.

If you had to do the math, there’s a good amount of people in those statistics that menstruate. Many of these people don’t have access to clean menstrual products, bathrooms, shelter, and other basic human needs. WHY? Well that’s the question of the century.


The hardships homeless people go through is unimaginable, and whether they menstruate or not, being homeless is another taboo topic many of us never talk about. Every month for about a week, homeless menstruators are faced with the problem of spending the little money they have on a meal, or on a box of tampons or pads. Let’s not forget how expensive disposable menstrual products can be each month. The average box of tampons (which comes with 36 tampons) costs around $7.62 at Walgreens, and that’s not including taxes. Depending on the level of discomfort of your physical symptoms, your flow, and income, things can add up. While $7.62 might not seem like a big deal to some, the reality is that there are people on the streets who can barely afford to feed themselves.

There’s so many different ways homeless women and trans men deal with their periods. From socks, plastic bags, and napkins, to rags, shirts and cotton balls, these homeless menstruators are at risk of toxic shock syndrome and other health related issues. Not only is it a hygiene problem, but a health problem. While donations such as food and clothes are always greatly appreciated in shelters, many shelters lack menstrual products to give out. On that note, let’s get this engraved in our brains: Menstrual products are NOT a luxury, they are a NECESSITY, and everyone should be able to have access to them.


Let’s be real, there’s still a lot of people who don’t like to talk about menstruation. Whether you’re that friend that rocks a #PussyPower hat, or you openly talk about periods, you probably know people that avoid the topic altogether. This also affects homelessness because so many people and donors aren’t aware of the vast needs of menstrual products because it’s not something they’ve been educated on. So not only is it a homeless issue, but it’s a societal issue! Read our #PeriodPower blog on how to talk and break the period taboo and educate your friends.


There are always ways to help people, like visiting your local homeless shelters, organizing a fundraiser, and PLANNING! You’ll be surprised how many people will donate tampons and pads to shelters if they knew it was such a demanding issue.

Don’t ignore what you see. It’s easy to walk by a homeless person and pretend they don’t exist, but everyone has a story. Maybe there’s a convenient store around the corner that sells menstrual products? Ask if they would like a box of tampons or pads! It’s a simple gesture that will alleviate their embarrassment and pain for that one week where you can’t control what your body does.

There’s already some fantastic organizations out there doing an inspiring job of trying to provide for women, girls and all menstruators living on the streets in the US.

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