Menstruating while homeless: navigating access to products, spaces, and services.

Publication date: Mar 27, 2024

People experiencing homelessness (PEH) in the United States face substantial challenges related to menstruation, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Limited access to period products, heightened stigma, and gynecological challenges contribute to increased hardships for PEH, highlighting the need for improved services and policies to address period equity and overall well-being for this vulnerable population. We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with PEH (n = 12) and community healthcare and social service providers (e. g., case managers, shelter directors, community health workers, and nurses, n = 12) in Lafayette, Indiana, a city located between Indianapolis and Chicago in the United States. We used thematic analysis techniques for data analysis. PEH’s limited access to products, services, and safe spaces hindered effective menstruation management within restrictive community contexts. Although community healthcare and service providers offered some support, complex interactions with the healthcare system, stigma, and limited access to spaces exacerbated barriers. The COVID-19 pandemic further intensified these difficulties by closing public spaces, worsening economic conditions, and straining service provider resources. Results highlight critical organizational and policy gaps in the United States for menstruation management resources and services, emphasizing the need for better integration into health and well-being programs for PEH. These insights will advance reproductive and public health research, shedding light on the disparities faced by PEH in managing menstruation in Indiana and contributing to the national discourse on addressing these barriers. Amid the complex landscape of public health, particularly during and after the pandemic, prioritizing menstrual health remains essential for all individuals’ overall well-being, including those experiencing homelessness.

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Concepts Keywords
Homelessness COVID-19
Indianapolis COVID-19
Menstrual Female
Nurses Homelessness
Pandemic Humans
Ill-Housed Persons
Menstrual products
Public health
Qualitative research
Safe spaces
Social Problems


Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19 pandemic
disease VO Equity
disease VO population
disease VO effective
drug DRUGBANK Tropicamide
disease VO USA
disease VO time
disease IDO country
disease IDO process
drug DRUGBANK Serine
disease MESH infection
disease VO Tax
disease MESH Emergency
disease MESH social stigma
disease MESH causes
disease MESH morbidities
disease VO Gap
drug DRUGBANK Etoperidone
disease VO protocol
drug DRUGBANK Coenzyme M
disease IDO facility
disease VO vaccine
disease VO organization
disease IDO symptom
disease IDO blood
disease MESH Marital Status
disease IDO quality
disease MESH heavy periods
disease MESH bleeding
drug DRUGBANK Methylphenidate
disease VO publication
drug DRUGBANK Creatinolfosfate
drug DRUGBANK Alprostadil
disease VO Canada
disease VO volume
drug DRUGBANK Abacavir
drug DRUGBANK Nonoxynol-9
disease VO report
disease VO BPS
drug DRUGBANK Acetylcysteine
disease MESH Mental Illness
disease MESH infectious disease
disease MESH myopia
drug DRUGBANK Trestolone
disease MESH Social Problems

Original Article

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