What is menstruation/a period?

Menstruation, or period, is normal vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of a woman’s monthly cycle. Every month, your body prepares for pregnancy. If no pregnancy occurs, the uterus, or womb, sheds its lining. The menstrual blood is partly blood and partly tissue from inside the uterus.

What is period poverty? 

We understand that several terms are used interchangeably within this sector, each with its strengths and weaknesses.
Period poverty is a paradoxical term whereby its use further perpetuates the stigma and shame relating to sub-optimal menstrual health. The time emerged from the global north but has gained traction in the global South.
Our definition is based on the Action Aid (2021) definition. Period poverty affects women, girls and individuals that menstruate worldwide. Access to appropriate and safe period products, safe and hygienic spaces to use them, and the right to manage menstruation without shame or stigma, are essential for menstruating.
What is menstrual health?
In a recent publication, Menstrual Health was defined as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity about the menstrual cycle.



educate yourself and teach others

Start by reading the reports and our mission page to know more about period poverty during the covid-19 pandemic and share your knowledge with others so more people can join the movement. 


Start a conversation 

to eliminate the stigma surrounding menstruation and period poverty the first step is to start talking about it. Spark up a conversation about menstruation, menstrual health and period poverty or  share our social media posts and graphics. this is a way to get more people to join the conversation and advocate for change.


Advocate for change 

Write a letter to your local government or tweet asking for menstrual health to be prioritized during the pandemic.
It’s important not to make assumptions about what people need. We need to support individuals that menstruate to develop agency so they can make their own informed choices by advocating for access to a variety of menstrual products, information and education.

Graphics to share in social media


External Resources and Reports

To gain a deeper understanding of the specific problems COVID-19 has posed for managing menstrual health and hygiene, Plan International conducted an online survey exclusively for professionals who work in the WASH and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) fields across the Plan International federation.

The online survey was live from 11 May to 17 May 2020 and attracted 61 responses from professionals working in 24 countries.

The number leading concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on menstrual hygiene management amongst Plan International’s professionals who took this survey were:

  1. 81% were concerned people who menstruate would not be supported to meet their menstrual hygiene management (MHM) needs
  2. 78% worried the pandemic would further limit freedom of movement; and
  3. 75% said COVID-19 may pose increased health risks for people who menstruate, as resources, such as water, are diverted to other needs.

In addition to the WASH professionals’ survey, a second survey for people who menstruate was distributed across Australia, Ireland, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Vanuatu, to provide further evidence. 

While these samples are not statistically significant, and the data is not weighted, qualitative evidence from these participants has been included in this report in the form of quotes and – where possible – percentage of respondents per country who indicated an issue.

Download full report 

In 2021, through our Bloody Good Employers (BGE) initiative, we are setting our sights on change in UK workplaces. We believe that we can drive big change here, and improve the lives of people at work, nationwide. Over the last year, we’ve conducted research with both employers and employees. This report shares our findings. They underline the need for change, and open up conversations about what we do next to develop BGE and launch in 2021.

Download full report 

This brief complements other UNICEF guidance on aspects of the response to the global COVID-19 pandemic and should be read together with the guidance on monitoring and mitigating the secondary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on WASH services availability and access.

Read full report