What is in a name: Menstrual Hygiene Day 2020

Yes… there is a day for everything nowadays isn’t there? Menstrual Hygiene Day, celebrated on the 28th May worldwide, is a great one though. It provides a global advocacy platform for charities, government agencies, the private sector, and individuals to promote good menstrual hygiene management for all.

Can we talk about the name though?

Menstrual Hygiene Day, is informative and clear, however, the use of the word hygiene implies that a period in itself is un-hygienic – feeding into the narrative that the period is dirty or shameful. There has to be a better name out there that is less, well, hygienic. And I’m not alone in thinking this. There is a growing number of people that are questioning the language we use to talk about periods in the public domain.

The campaign group Health not Hygiene is one such organisation that is campaigning to end the social stigma around menstruation and focuses on the language that we use when talking about periods. It argues that the word hygiene in Menstrual Hygiene Day perpetuates menstrual stigma and does not encompass the whole experience of having a period. It suggests that the word health, on the other hand, encompasses both the physical and the mental experience of having a period, focussing on well-being over hygiene.

Would a rose not smell as sweet if it were named Menstrual Health Day?

This is not to single out Menstrual Hygiene Day. I think it’s an amazing initiative and I’m totally on board. I just agree that we need to re-think the language we commonly use around menstruation, and that Menstrual Health Day is a better alternative.

Another example is the phrase ‘sanitary product’, with many organisations beginning to use ‘period product’ instead. The factual nature of the new phrase is to the point and the removal of the word ‘sanitary’ disassociates periods solely with cleanliness and the idea that it is something that needs to be sanitised.

The words we use are important, particularly around periods, which can be either incredibly clinical or wildly elaborate (eg. *BLOB*). A period is a varied experience that encompasses many things, not simply something that needs to be ‘cleaned up.’ This perpetuates menstrual stigma that, in turn, makes it more difficult to reach people that need the education, support, and advocacy around menstrual health that these initiatives provide.

So, join me in celebrating Menstrual Hygiene Day, find out more on global events and campaigns running this May HERE. Whilst also recognising that the language we use is important. You can join the Health not Hygiene campaign HERE or join the conversation in the comments below.

Has the pandemic affected your period?

The last couple of months have been A LOT. The pandemic has thrown our routines, stress levels and for some, our periods, into disarray.

From the non-existent (like mine) to the heavy or more frequent bleeds, our menstrual cycles have become unpredictable and frankly straight up weird.

But what has caused your period to change?

Well, it seems that stress is the main culprit, with many sources pointing towards the stress and anxiety caused by the lockdown as the reason for the change in our cycles.


This is not uncommon. The NHS labels stress as a common cause of irregular or missed periods and lists many stress management techniques as ways of managing your missing, irregular or way over familiar bleeds.

So what’s happening?  

Here’s the science bit, according to Dr Sarah Toler, stress causes the release of cortisol (the stress hormone) that can suppress your reproductive hormones, leading to disruption in your cycle.

This makes sense, there is an underlying stress to our lives at the moment. From the changes to our routines, lifestyles, and lack of access to the usual activities that de-stress us, to the obvious stress caused by the virus itself and the possibility of us or our loved ones contracting it.

If stress is the problem, then what’s the solution?

There are many ways we can try to manage stress during this time and these methods may help you with your periods.

The NHS recommends exercise such as yoga, jogging and swimming. Unless you have your own pool at home, the first two are more likely to be manageable. There are plenty of free yoga videos online (Yoga with Adrienne is great) and if possible, you can start (socially distant) jogging in your area, no equipment needed just comfy shoes and clothes.

Breathing exercises, healthy eating and relaxation techniques could also help. I know that sometimes these are easier said than done: especially with a full household, monetary restraints or a lack of private space, but luckily, the breathing techniques can be done anywhere and combined with other activities such as washing up or lying in bed… It’s worth a try!

Last week I also found that stumbling upon a group of women on Twitter having a chat about how their periods had changed made me feel better. Yes, I lurked (because I couldn’t tell if they were friends and whether or not they would want a stranger chiming into their chat) but knowing I wasn’t the only one experiencing these changes made me feel so much less alone.

So, thank you to those women and all the other people out there talking about their periods during the pandemic. Thank you for sharing, I know it’s helped me and I hope it helps you too.

Tell me, has the pandemic affected your period? And what have you been doing to de-stress lately? Comment below!

Period *Poverty* Doesn’t Stop in a Pandemic

In the UK today as many as 3 in 10 girls are struggling to afford or access period products during the lockdown. This is according to Plan International UK’s latest report that highlights the extent to which the pandemic is exacerbating period poverty.

As of January 2020, period products have been made freely available by the government to all state schools and colleges across England and Wales. This follows the Scottish government’s landmark move to provide free menstrual products in schools, colleges and universities in 2018 – the first in the world to do so.

Yet, with schools and youth clubs closed, as well panic-buying leading to a lack of affordable products in store, many people are struggling to get access to free period products, or any products at all.

Over half of those struggling to access products have used toilet paper as a substitute in the past, with 1 in 5 girls finding it harder to manage their period due to toilet paper shortages. And shortages of painkillers, particularly the low-cost versions, contribute further to the problem.

And it’s not just young people that are struggling. There are around 14 million people living in period poverty in the UK, with asylum-seeking women having to choose between period products and food, homeless women lacking access to vital period products, and those on low incomes that make tough choices every month to manage their period impacted.

So, what can we do to support those that are struggling to get the essential products they need to manage their periods? And where can you go if you need help?

Below are just some of the amazing organisations continuing to fight period poverty throughout the pandemic. If you would like to learn more or donate please follow the links, and if you or someone you know needs help or support get in touch with these charities.

Bloody Good Period

Bloody Good Period provides menstrual products to those that need them through partnerships with 40 asylum seeker drop-ins around the country, as well as providing education and some bloody good campaigning against period poverty to boot.

During the pandemic, the charity is offering a take-what-you-need scheme at its Alexandra Palace warehouse to get products to people. It is also continuing to deliver bulk supplies outside of London and is working to keep supply to its partners.

If you want to, you can donate to Bloody Good Period HERE to help them keep up the amazing work. Or if you need to access support, you can by scrolling to the bottom of the page HERE.

Hey Girls

Hey Girls is a Social Enterprise that provides ‘no leak, super comfy, chlorine and bleach free, environmentally friendly’ period products. The real winner here though is that the social enterprise model means that all the profits from its ‘Buy-one-give-one’ scheme goes to tackling period poverty.

You can support their work by buying Hey Girls products in supermarkets such as Asda and online. The Hey Girls mission has not stopped during the lockdown, it has partnered with local councils to get period products out there and continues to get products to its partners.

Hey Girls take donations HERE, you could also become a corporate supporter HERE.

The Hygiene Bank

The Hygiene Bank is a network of collection and distribution banks that provide essential hygiene products to those in need. Through community partners such as food banks, it redistributes new, unused and in-date toiletries across the UK.

It also provides soaps, sanitisers, shower gels, and laundry care among other products, which, let’s face it, are as essential as pads and tampons for feeling clean and maintaining hygiene throughout your period.

During the pandemic it is continuing to distribute its products and has announced a major partnership with FareShare to get products to NHS frontline staff.

If you want to donate money or products to The Hygiene Bank click HERE!

Are you struggling to find products in the pandemic? Concerned about period poverty? Tell us what you think in the comments below.