New Survey Shows 4 out of 5 Women in the US Change Lifestyle to Avoid “Period Dramas”

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New research released today by WaterAid reveals that nearly 4 out of 5 women (78%) adapt their lifestyle each month because they fear awkward dramas around their periods, such as leaking onto their clothes, having to hide feminine hygiene products on the way to the bathroom, or not finding a bathroom when they need one.

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While the film will make us laugh, we also hope that it will cause viewers to pause and reflect on how millions of women and girls living in poverty have to cope with their periods when 1 in 3 women worldwide do not have access to a safe, private toilet.

WaterAid launched the #perioddrama campaign to mark Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28 and raise awareness of the issues faced by more than 1 billion women around the world who do not have access to a toilet, even when they’re on their periods.

WaterAid asked over a thousand women from across the US about their dread of #perioddrama. The (sometimes hilarious) results help shine a light on the awkwardness that women face while menstruating, even in the US today. Based on the results, WaterAid produced a light-hearted short film using popular period dramas to illustrate the most awkward #perioddrama, many of which are centuries old. Watch the film here: https://youtu.be/-60TFBMO8Yo.

The survey shows that 89% of women regularly fear drama when on their period. Well over half of women (57%) revealed they have to change their lifestyle occasionally to avoid the possibility of an embarrassing period drama, while 21% said they do that all the time.

The biggest period drama fear faced by 86% of women surveyed is blood leaking onto clothes when out in public. A major annoyance experienced by 70% of women, is a dread of smelling bad, while 58% expressed shyness about having to hide sanitary products on their way to the bathroom at work. Not knowing where the next toilet might be while travelling was a preoccupation for 52% of women, while more than 1 in 3 women (35%) admitted craving huge amounts of chocolate. Nearly half of the women surveyed (45%) fear sneezing while on their period and the risk of subsequent leakage, while nearly 3% of women reported experiencing no fears of period dramas.

Seventeen percent of women said they would never ask a stranger for a sanitary product if caught short. Five percent wouldn’t even ask a friend or colleague, even though 90% of us would happily give to a “sister in need”.

Three out of five women (59%) said they felt less confident than usual when experiencing a period drama and 21% felt really unconfident. Period pain forces 23% of women to take sick leave.

With all these monthly trials and tribulations, women overwhelmingly (89%) agreed that men are at an advantage for not having to deal with period dramas.

Sarina Prabasi, Chief Executive of WaterAid America said:

“At WaterAid, we talk about “Period Power”: a recognition that menstruation is not only a natural part of life, but also something that women and girls should feel empowered to experience and manage with dignity and choice.

Across the 37 countries where WaterAid has programs and influence, we encounter a common and unfortunate truth: periods are seen as an embarrassing and taboo subject, more likely to incite drama than empowerment.

While WaterAid’s #perioddrama film will make us laugh, we also hope that it will cause viewers to pause and reflect on how millions of women and girls living in poverty have to cope with their periods when 1 in 3 women worldwide do not have access to a safe, private toilet. The real drama is that not having toilets in schools means that girls will often skip school during their period, or drop out altogether once they reach puberty. In many cultures, menstruating women are subject to archaic social practices that prevent them from participating fully in society and, in some instances, leave them vulnerable to harassment or attack.

It’s time to put an end to the drama around periods. By giving this issue the attention it deserves, we will help every woman and girl live healthy, dignified and empowered lives by the year 2030.”

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

  • In New York: Alanna Imbach, Media Relations Manager, AImbach(at)wateraidamerica(dot)org or +1 (212) 683-0430 or +1 (917) 209-8823

Note to editors

  • WaterAid carried out the online survey in May 2016 with Morar Consulting, questioning 1,055 women in the US about their biggest period dramas, and an additional 1,041 women in the UK. The figures used in this release represent the results of the US survey only.
  • In the US: WaterAid will be marking Menstrual Hygiene Day with a ticketed event at the Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn, NYC on Tuesday, May 24, 2016. For more information, please see the Eventbrite listing here: WaterAid Period Power Screening Event

The film

1. When one’s period says “Surprise!” - 49% of women say the most annoying #perioddrama is not knowing when your next period is going to start.
2. When one’s pad crunches upon sitting. Awkward. - 37% of women say the most annoying #perioddrama is the sound of a sanitary pad crunching when you sit down.
3. When one loses one’s tampon string - 20% of women say the most annoying #perioddrama is not knowing what to do when you lose the string to your tampon.
4. When one leaks. That is all. - 86% of women say their biggest #perioddrama fear is blood leaking on their clothes when out in public.
5. When one sneezes on one’s period. Yup, that. - 45% of women say the most annoying #perioddrama is sneezing when on your period and being scared of leaking.
6. When one loses the pain war with one’s uterus.- 23% of women say they’ve been forced to take sick leave because of one #perioddrama in particular: period pains.
7. When one’s beau has to purchase one’s tampons… - 33% of women say their most annoying #perioddrama is having to ask their other half to go to the story to buy sanitary products.
8. When one’s carriage is without a lavatory. - 52% of women say their most annoying #perioddrama is not knowing when they’ll find the next bathroom when travelling.
9. When one must fashion an emergency pad - anything will do. - 61% of women say that their biggest #perioddrama fear is unexpectedly running out of tampons/pads when out and about.
10. When one must refrain from what one enjoys most. - 78% of women say that they’ve had to adapt their lifestyle to avoid #perioddrama.

About Menstrual Hygiene Day

Menstrual Hygiene Day is an annual awareness day taking place on May 28 that aims to break taboos and raise awareness about the importance of good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) for women and adolescent girls worldwide. The initiative for Menstrual Hygiene Day has received the support of over 270 global partners, including WaterAid, who are committed to making good menstrual health and hygiene a priority worldwide. May 28 was chosen for its symbolism since May is the 5th month of the year and most women average 5 days every month and their cycle is approximately 28 days.

About WaterAid

WaterAid is the #1 ranked international non-profit dedicated to helping the people living in the world’s poorest communities gain access to safe water, toilets and hygiene. WaterAid has programs and influence in 37 countries across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific region. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 23 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 21 million people with toilets and sanitation.

Connect with WaterAid at Facebook.com/WaterAidAmerica and @WaterAidAmerica, or find out more at http://www.WaterAid.org.

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Alanna Imbach
WaterAid
+1 (917) 209-8823
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