You are here:

Plan International UK's research on period poverty and stigma

Plan International UK's research on period poverty and stigma

The following statistics, from girls’ rights charity Plan International UK, are the only current UK-wide quantitative estimate of the extent of period poverty in the UK.

  • One in ten girls (10 per cent) have been unable to afford sanitary wear
  • One in seven girls (15 per cent) have struggled to afford sanitary wear
  • One in seven girls (14 per cent) have had to ask to borrow sanitary wear from a friend due to affordability issues
  • More than one in ten girls (12 per cent) has had to improvise sanitary wear due to affordability issues
  • One in five (19%) of girls have changed to a less suitable sanitary product due to cost 

Further statistics on taboo and stigma surrounding periods and menstruation

  • Nearly half (48 per cent) of girls aged 1421 in the UK are embarrassed by their periods
  • One in seven (14 per cent) girls admitted that they did not know what was happening when they started their period and more than a quarter (26 per cent) reporting that they did not know what to do when they started their period
  • Only one in five (22%) girls feel comfortable discussing their period with their teacher
  • Almost three quarters (71%) of girls admitted that they have felt embarrassed buying sanitary products
  • One in ten had been asked not to talk about their periods front of their mother (12 per cent) or father (11 per cent)
  • 49 per cent of girls have missed an entire day of school because of their period, of which 59 per cent have made up a lie or an alternate excuse
  • 64 per cent of girls have missed a PE or sport because of their period, of which 52 per cent of girls have made up a lie or excuse

The findings are based on Opinium Research survey of representative weighted sample of 1,000 girls and young women aged 14-21, carried out online between 22-24 August 2017.

Lucy Russell, UK Campaign Manager at Plan International UK, said:

“Period poverty is a very real challenge facing many girls in the UK, and it’s devastating to hear of the impact it is having on girls’ lives, their ability to be themselves, and their self-esteem. For too many girls, dealing with their period each month is proving a tough challenge – and in 21st century Britain, this shouldn’t be the case.

“But what is also clear is that this is a problem of stigma as well as affordability. Girls feel embarrassed by their periods, and that can’t be right.

“We need a society-wide approach to bust the taboo, and an education programme which addresses the shocking reality that too many girls lack the knowledge and understanding of how to manage their period, and are too afraid to ask for advice.”