1 in 10 college women experience period poverty, more likely to experience depression

February 02, 2021

Period poverty, a lack of access to menstrual hygiene products, and other unmet menstrual health needs can have far-reaching consequences for women and girls in the United States and globally.

New research led by George Mason University's College of Health and Human Services found that more than 14% of college women experienced period poverty in the past year, and 10% experienced period poverty every month. Women who experienced period poverty every month (68%) or in the past year (61.2%) were more likely to experience moderate or severe depression than those who did not experience period poverty (43%).

Dr. Jhumka Gupta, an associate professor at George Mason University was senior author of the study published in BMC Women's Health. Lauren F. Cardoso, a graduate student in Social Welfare at University of Pennsylvania and a research assistant at George Mason University at the time of the study was lead author.

"Period poverty is a common yet hidden and stigmatized public health issue in the United States and globally," explains Gupta. "It can reduce women's participation in school and in the workplace. Our findings document the pervasiveness of period poverty among college-aged women and underscores the negative mental health implications. It is thus critical that we provide support to women and other menstruators in obtaining such basic necessities during menstruation."

For the current study, Gupta, Cardoso, and colleagues collected and analyzed data from 471 women enrolled in undergraduate programs who were part of a larger national, on-line survey on menstrual health, endometriosis, and related stigma.

The study's findings also point to inequities in period poverty experiences. Black and Latina women reported the highest levels of period poverty experiences in the past year (19% and 24.5% respectively). Similar patterns were also seen for immigrant and first-generation students. In order to address the unmet basic need for menstrual products, women who experienced period poverty reported borrowing products, using other non-menstrual products (e.g., toilet paper or fabric), using pads or tampons longer than recommended, or going without them entirely during menstruation.

Gupta, Cardoso, and colleagues cite promising examples of initiatives in schools, colleges, and cities that have started to offer free menstrual products in recognition of this need, as well as policy initiatives to remove a "luxury tax" from these products.

"The mental health of college students is of tremendous importance in the United States. Our study findings linking period poverty with increased vulnerability to depression suggest that addressing period poverty should be part of efforts to address well-being among college students," stated Cardoso.
Funding for the study was provided by the Endometriosis Foundation of America (EndoFound) (Grant #:223049, PI: Dr. Jhumka Gupta).

About George Mason University

George Mason University is Virginia's largest and most diverse public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 39,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility. For more information, visit https://www2.gmu.edu/.

About the College of Health and Human Services

George Mason University's College of Health and Human Services prepares students to become leaders and shape the public's health through academic excellence, research of consequence, community outreach, and interprofessional clinical practice. George Mason is the fastest-growing Research I institution in the country. The College enrolls more than 1,900 undergraduate and 1,370 graduate students in its nationally-recognized offerings, including: 5 undergraduate degrees, 13 graduate degrees, and 7 certificate programs. The college is transitioning to a college public health in the near future. For more information, visit https://chhs.gmu.edu/.

George Mason University

Related Mental Health Articles from Brightsurf:

Mental health strained by disaster
A new study found that suicide rates increase during all types of disasters -- including severe storms, floods, hurricanes and ice storms -- with the largest overall increase occurring two years after a disaster.

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

World Mental Health Day -- CACTUS releases report of largest researcher mental health survey
On the occasion of 'World Mental Health Day' 2020, CACTUS, a global scientific communications company, has released a global survey on mental health, wellbeing and fulfilment in academia.

Mental illness, mental health care use among police officers
A survey study of Texas police officers examines how common mental illness and mental health care use are in a large urban department.

COVID-19 outbreak and mental health
The use of online platforms to guide effective consumption of information, facilitate social support and continue mental health care delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic is discussed in this Viewpoint.

COVID-19 may have consequences for mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be adversely affecting mental health among hospitalised patients, the healthcare professionals treating them and the general population.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental ill health 'substantial health concern' among police, finds international study
Mental health issues among police officers are a 'substantial health concern,' with around 1 in 4 potentially drinking at hazardous levels and around 1 in 7 meeting the criteria for post traumatic stress disorder and depression, finds a pooled data analysis of the available international evidence, published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Examining health insurance nondiscrimination policies with mental health among gender minority individuals
A large private health insurance database was used to examine the association between between health insurance nondiscrimination policies and mental health outcomes for gender minority individuals.

Mental health care for adolescents
Researchers examined changes over time in the kinds of mental health problems for which adolescents in the United States received care and where they got that care in this survey study with findings that should be interpreted within the context of several limitations including self-reported information.

Read More: Mental Health News and Mental Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.