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Tempe organizations give out free pads, tampons to fight period poverty

Coverage of aging is supported in part by AARP Arizona

Having a period each month can be expensive. A group in Tempe is giving free hygiene products to those with limited or no income.

Period poverty is the lack of access to menstrual products, and it affects millions of girls and women across the U.S. The reality is, a box of tampons or pads can cost anywhere between $7 and $10 a month. 

For low-income or unhoused individuals, it can mean going without. 

Kay Wright is the founder of Women for Women Tempe. Her organization provides bags of pads and tampons to anyone in need. 

"One of the places we distribute bags is called Gracie's Thrift in Tempe. A young mom showed up with a baby in a stroller and when she found out they had bags of pads and tampons, she cried, because she had been cutting up pillow cases."

Stigma is also an issue. Not having access to hygienic menstrual products can mean missing school or work. Period poverty can also affect older women. Wright remembers a time when she encountered an older woman on the side of the road.

"And I said, ‘do you need pads or tampons?’ She said, ‘yes, I do.’  And I said, ‘well, which?’ And she said, ‘I need tampons.’ Then she said, ‘no wait,’ she said, ‘I’m over 50 and I’m also having problems with incontinence, so could I have both?’"

According to the Menopause Society, women at midlife and beyond are at increased risk for incontinence.

To learn more about perimenopausal symptoms listen to KJZZ's podcast series, Period the End, But Not Really wherever you get your podcasts.

KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.