Over 1100 Irish girls, aged 12-19 were surveyed on period stigma and affordability by Plan International Ireland - a child rights, especially girl’s rights organisation.
Half of respondents of the survey said they had experienced issues around affordability of sanitary products.
109 girls who took part in the research, which asked questions on Irish girl’s experiences of their period, said they have had to change to a less suitable sanitary product due to cost.
Startlingly, 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.
The research shows that there is a large amount of shame and embarrassment with girls in Ireland and their period, with more than 61% stating they often feel embarrassed by their period and do not feel comfortable disclosing they are on their period with their male family members, with only 1 in 5 revealing the information to their father.
Caoimhe Dowling, 19 years old from Dublin, who took part in the survey said “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.”
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 less able to pay attention.
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.
In the countries Plan International works, menstruation is often a barrier for girls to receive an education.
Many are too embarrassed or it is too difficult to manage their period while at school, so they drop out. We support girls and increase their knowledge and skills related to menstruation; to reducing stigma and taboos; to increase access to girl friendly toilet facilities; and improving access to sanitary products.”