Answers to our most frequently asked Questions
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What is period poverty?
Period poverty describes a lack of access to period products and/or adequate period education, resulting in difficulties managing one’s period. Period poverty can prevent attendance at school or work, which is harmful for menstruators both economically and socially . This definition encompasses a wide range of issues that affect people and communities all around the world.
In the United States, as many as 1 in 5 menstruating students will miss class due to period poverty [2,3]. Providing free and readily accessible period products in school restrooms is just one way that Crescent is dedicated to eliminating period poverty in Montana.
No one should have to miss school due to a period!
What is menstrual stigma?
"[T]he word stigma refers to any stain or mark that sets some people apart from others; it conveys the information that those people have a defect of body or of character that spoils their appearance or identity” .
In much of the world, menstruation is viewed as “dirty” or “shameful," meaning menstruators often hide their experiences from the public. Stigma tells menstruators that the natural processes of their bodies are shameful and therefore a "taboo" topic. We see this in refusing to talk about periods, hiding products from the public eye, and censoring images of menstrual fluid. Plus, this societal disgust creates barriers to properly addressing period poverty.
Crescent works to destigmatize the menstrual experience–especially during the tumultuous time of adolescence–because no one should be shamed for their body. By placing products in open baskets, we are making them visible and accessible in public restrooms. Our educational posters reinforce the natural occurrence of menstruation and use destigmatized language to guide menstruators through using products. We take care to make menstruation as accessible, comfortable, and discussable as possible.
At my school, the nurse’s office has period products available to students. Does that solve the issue?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having backup products available in a school nurse’s office, or in a front office drawer. However, we recommend that these products be a second line of defense rather than the only solution. When menstruators have to leave class and make a special trip to the nurse’s office, the natural process of menstruation can be associated with illness. Having pads and tampons openly available in school restrooms, however, allows for quick and easy access. Plus, our baskets are placed alongside corresponding instructions, helping to reduce any anxiety or stress students might feel.
At Crescent, we compare the need for free, easily accessible period products with the need for toilet paper: both are necessary for everyday living. Why aren’t free period products just as common as toilet paper in school restrooms?
How can I request products for my school?
Check out this page. Baskets, products, and posters are entirely free of charge for schools. We are happy to make special accommodations and/or partner with an existing group or project within the school and/or community as well. Contact us with any questions, comments, or concerns!
What does “menstruator” mean?
"Menstruator” refers to any person who menstruates. We recognize that not everyone who menstruates identifies as female, and not everyone who identifies as female will menstruate.
Using vocabulary like "menstruator" is a conscious effort on our part to help promote gender inclusivity and acknowledge of the broad range of menstrual experiences. When possible, we place our baskets within gender neutral bathrooms to support those who might experience heightened menstrual stigma or shame.
How much does the basket program cost per school?
We typically spend about $100 dollars per semester per school (for schools with approximately 150 menstruating students or less). Click here to sponsor a school or donate to the cause.
For More Information:
Crescent at the 2021 Healthy Families Conference (YouTube)
PERIOD Podcast by Dr. Kate Clancy, available where you get your podcasts.
PERIOD, & ThinkX. State of the Period
1. Singh, B., Zhang, J., & Segars, J. (2020). Period poverty and the menstrual product tax in the United States. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 135, 68S.
2. Cardoso, L. F., Scolese, A. M., Hamidaddin, A., & Gupta, J. (2021). Period poverty and mental health implications among college-aged women in the United States. BMC Women’s Health, 21(1), 14. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-020-01149-5
3. Trant, A., Vash-Margita, A., Camenga, D., Braverman, P., Wagner, D., Espinal, M., & Fan, L. (2020). 89. Menstrual Hygiene Management in Adolescents and Young Adults. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 33(2), 218. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpag.2020.01.021
4. Johnston-Robledo, I., & Chrisler, J. (2020). The menstrual mark: menstruation as social stigma. The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Menstrual Studies. 181-199.