Bloody expensive: Four in five of those who menstruate in Canada say period products are too pricey

New Plan International Canada research reveals that period poverty and social stigma persist despite growing awareness of menstruation as a normal, everyday part of life

Toronto, ON – May 25, 2022 – One in five (21%) girls, women, and people who menstruate in Canada struggle to afford menstrual products for themselves or their dependents, according to new survey results released today by Plan International Canada.

Globally, the issue of period poverty affects 500 million people who don't have access to menstrual supplies or safe washrooms. The lack of resources has negative effects on girls and young women, such as harming their health and causing them to miss school, and the shame associated with periods prevents them from full participation in everyday activities.

Launched for Menstrual Health Day, Menstruation in Canada – Views and Realities explores the impacts of periods among youth and adults aged 13 and older in Canada.

Key findings:

  • More than four in five respondents who menstruate (83%) believe period products are too expensive.
  • One in five (22%) ration or use products longer than they should because they can’t afford more. This rises to 33% among those with a household income of under $50,000 and 48% for Indigenous respondents.
  • 95% of women and girls and 89% of men and boys support offering free menstrual products in schools.

@PlanCanada’s 2022 #menstrualhealth research reveals period poverty persists in Canada. Read more:   


How Plan International addresses period poverty and stigma

The research also found that those who menstruate experience social stigma, such as being teased by others and feeling the need to hide their period. Two in three (66%) girls and women have heard having a period or premenstrual syndrome (PMS) being used as an insult.

"We've seen some progress over the years on period poverty by local youth advocates and grassroots movements, but equitable access to menstrual products – availability and affordability to everyone, everywhere – is just the first step and the bare minimum. This ensures the dignity of every person who needs them, particularly those from vulnerable populations and in low-income countries. It is also critical from a hygiene and health perspective," says Saadya Hamdani, Director of Gender Equality and Inclusion at Plan International Canada.

"The second step," Hamdani adds, "is education to break stigma, misinformation and shame surrounding periods, including teasing and bullying. This is a form of gender-based discrimination that has a negative impact on menstruators' ability to participate fully in society."

Plan International's work in menstrual health supports young people to manage their periods safely, help them speak up about their health needs, and raise girls’ confidence and self-esteem so they stay in school, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused disruptions to their education.

How does menstruation affect young people’s lives around the world?

  • Education: Girls and other young people who menstruate may miss school during their periods due to lack of facilities or necessary supplies.
  • Economics: Menstruators may miss work if they don’t have access to the supplies or washrooms they need.
  • Health: Use of improvised menstrual materials can lead to infection and illness.
  • Dignity: They may suffer from discomfort, endure teasing and shaming, or face exclusion from everyday activities.
  • Participation: They may be distracted or less productive during school and other activities due to pain, discomfort, fear of leaks, or concerns about not being able to access products or safe facilities.

Ziyaan Virji, a Plan International Canada youth ambassador and founder of For the Menstruator says: “As someone who doesn’t menstruate, it’s imperative to approach those who do with empathy and help normalize an issue that impacts 1.8 billion people around the world every month.”

“This understanding should lead to open dialogue and tangible action around periods, including men and boys, as all of us benefit from an equitable society that respects everyone’s reproductive health needs,” Virji explains. “There are already too many barriers to girls’ and young women’s empowerment – period poverty shouldn’t be one of them.”


  • Saadya Hamdani, Director of Gender Equality and Inclusion, Plan International Canada
  • Ziyaan Virji, Plan International Canada youth ambassador, menstrual equity activist and founder of For the Menstruator
  • Bhanvi Sachdeva, Plan International Canada youth ambassador, menstrual equity activist and founder of Articulate Initiative

Join the conversation on Menstrual Health Day with @PlanCanada

About Plan International Canada

Plan International Canada is a member of a global organization dedicated to advancing children’s rights and equality for girls. Plan International has been building powerful partnerships for children for over 80 years and is now active in more than 75 countries.

We are calling on all Canadians to embrace their global citizenship: to believe in the power and potential of every child and to stand with children, especially girls, anywhere they are oppressed, exploited, left behind or aren’t equally valued.

Visit plancanada.ca for more information. 

About Plan International Canada’s 2022 menstrual health research

Plan International Canada, in partnership with Maru Matchbox, conducted two scientific surveys of 1,074 women, girls, and other people who menstruate, and 731 men and boys in Canada in April 2022 (including those who identify as non-binary and gender fluid).

The research explores access and affordability of menstrual products, as well as public support for free products in a range of settings such as schools, shelters and the workplace. The survey also found that there is still negative social stigma associated with periods despite growing public conversation on the topic.

To learn more, view the full report, and download graphics and other resources.

Other key findings from the report:

Daily living of those who menstruate

  • Seven in 10 (69%) of those who menstruate have missed an activity because of their period.
  • The majority of menstruators have experienced painful periods (85%) and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) (78%).

Support for access to free products

  • 86% of women and girls and 75% of men and boys say that period products should be provided for free in all public places.
  • Almost all (95%) adult survey respondents support the provision of free period products in shelters.

Stigma and shame

  • Nearly three in four (74%) of those who menstruate have tried to hide bringing a menstrual product to the washroom at work or at school.
  • Six in 10 (59%) women and girls said they feel the need to hide being on their period.
  • Two in five (38%) women and girls said they’ve been teased by a male about being on their period, including by friends, colleagues and relatives.

Perceptions of men and boys

  • Knowing that someone has their period makes one-quarter (26%) of men uncomfortable, however, more than half (52%) of men and boys feel prepared to have a conversation around menstruation.   
  • 65% of men are comfortable purchasing products for a partner, spouse or family member.
  • More than two in five (42%) male respondents indicated that they do not need to know about periods despite 89% agreement that periods and menstruation should be taught in school.


Plan International Canada. Menstruation in Canada – Views and Realities, May 2022.

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PR & Communications
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