Half of the girls surveyed by Plan International Ireland said they struggled to pay for sanitary products.
Having your period can be challenging, especially in your teenage years. A new survey by Plan International Ireland has found that over 61% of Irish girls are embarrassed by their period and 50% struggle to afford sanitary products.
Over 1100 girls aged 12-19 took part in the survey on period stigma and affordability by the child and girls’ rights organisation.
They were asked questions on their experience of having their periods – half of them said they found sanitary products too expensive, with 109 admitting that they’ve had to change to a less suitable product due to cost.
Surprisingly, 59% of the girls surveyed felt lessons on their period from school were not helpful, with 110 respondents stating they did not receive any lesson in school on their period at all.
It was also revealed if a girl was feeling unwell as a result of her period, she would not feel comfortable discussing this with school teachers despite the fact that 61% have missed school as a direct result of their period and a staggering 88% feel they are unable to pay attention.
The research shows that there is a large amount of stigma and shame surrounding periods for Irish girls. More than 61% stated they often feel embarrassed by their period and do not feel comfortable disclosing they are on their period with their male family members.
Only 1 in 5 girls tell their father that they have their period. One of the girls who took part in the survey, 19-year-old Caoimhe Dowling, told the Irish Examiner:
“When I was younger, I felt the need to hide my period from both my family and my friends. I was made to feel shame for this biological fact of life. No person should feel shame for having a period. Now, being a student means a lot of saving and scrimping to get by with the little money I get from my job. I am reminded monthly of the large chunk of money that I am forced to spend on the necessities for my period.
“I’m still not used to looking at the receipt after buying pads and seeing this huge sum that I need to fork over. Pads and tampons are necessities but are still seen as luxury.”
Shockingly, 84 respondents believed it wasn’t possible to get pregnant while on their period, and 79 believed they could lose their virginity to a tampon.
Plan International Ireland CEO Paul O’Brien said: “From our research we know girls feel uncomfortable talking about their periods with family members and teachers. Through this survey we hope to start a conversation and end the taboos on menstruation.”
We want girls to know it is ok to talk about their period – especially if half of the girls Plan International Ireland spoke to nationwide cannot afford products for their periods.