Homeless Periods: A Problem of Poverty, Dignity, and Feminine Hygiene

Homelessness Plus Menstruation Make an Unpleasant Combination

There are a lot of things I'd rather forget about from my time spent being homeless; my menstrual periods are certainly one of them. Periods aren't particularly pleasant to put up with anyway, but adding the complication of homelessness brings inconvenience to the level of misery.

Human beings strongly prefer to be clean. It affects how they physically and emotionally feel and how people treat them. When it comes to feminine hygiene, it also affects health.

You probably don't need to have all of these things spelled out for you if you have the imagination of a turnip but I'll talk about them a bit, just in case. I'm not going to pussyfoot around on the issues of poverty and feminine hygiene; I'm going to be frank, so if you find that offensive, hit the back arrow right now.

Periods suck even more for homeless women! Poverty and feminine hygiene don't mix well in any circumstances, but living on the street brings even more complications to the situation.
Periods suck even more for homeless women! Poverty and feminine hygiene don't mix well in any circumstances, but living on the street brings even more complications to the situation. | Source

Why the Gruesome Photo with the River of Blood?

I thought I'd address the images I carefully chose and spliced to illustrate this piece because I've been questioned about it by a few who found it offensive.

Having a period while homeless is far more disturbing, upsetting, and crude than having a period while homed and possessed of all the gleaming white cotton and super-absorbent miracles modern society has to offer women. It's filthier than when one has largely uninterrupted access to hot and cold running water. On the street, it's an unpleasant reminder of vulnerability. Nothing else so absolutely ordinary reminds you that you have a vagina, something other people are quite willing to viciously harm you for, like having a period while homeless. Nothing feels the same disgusting, uncomfortable way as being sick and filthy and not knowing when you'll ever be clean. I wanted an image of raw and miserable vulnerability rendered with crudeness to illustrate all that.

If you are upset or disgusted by it, you are feeling just what I'd hoped you'd feel. It's upsetting and disgusting that homeless women don't have adequate access to the things they need for safe, clean, comfortable periods.

Toilet Paper Doesn't Cut It, Folks

Women have been dealing with blood, fluids, and tissue coming from between their legs since before Homo sapiens was even a thing. Women have used moss, feathers, leaves, wool, natural fibers, old cloth, milkweed fluff, and probably dozens of other things to soak up their monthly spills of uterine lining. So you'd think toilet paper would be the holy grail compared to an old handkerchief or wad of reindeer moss. It is and it isn't.

The toilet paper you have in your home has been gently handled since you've gotten it, hasn't it? It hasn't gotten wet and it certainly hasn't gotten dirty. That stuff wouldn't be too bad for swabbing below the decks and plugging any leaks. It's still a pain in the arse to keep in place when used as a sanitary napkin and not easy to remove when used as a tampon.

But the toilet paper homeless women have access to isn't nice toilet paper; it isn't your toilet paper. It's often stored open in dirty back rooms or pipe alleys. It's been lugged around and just set anywhere before the maintenance person gets to the restroom. After it's been installed, it's been touched by strangers who've gotten feces, urine, or menstrual blood on their hands. It also receives a filthy baptism of vaporized dirty toilet water on it every time someone flushes.

You don't even want to wipe with public bathroom toilet roll anymore, now do you? Now imagine that definitely non-sanitary stuff making rude contact with the lady parts of someone you love. The vagina is like the perfect warm, moist Petri dish for growing all the bacteria that public restroom toilet paper brings to the panty party.

Toilet rolls don't make good substitutes for tampons.
Toilet rolls don't make good substitutes for tampons. | Source

Irregular Access to Bathrooms

So public bathrooms aren't perfect and public toilet TP isn't the best for making hand-made tampons, but they do tend to have running water and a small amount of privacy. Unfortunately, most homeless people lack safe, reliable access to bathrooms for many reasons. Businesses close, government buildings close, public toilets close, and homeless shelter bathrooms have lines and other restrictions, assuming one can get into a shelter in the first place and chooses to do so.

Irregular, Often Dangerous Access to Showers

Showers are even harder to get access to than toilets. They're often just as unsanitary as the average gas station bathroom in a bad neighborhood, and may cost money to use.

So if you can't get a shower but once a week, you may start to develop a less-than-fresh feeling in your nether regions when the red tide comes in.

Feminine Hygiene Items Cost Money ... And So Does Food

I'm a big list maker. I prioritize things to hell-and-gone given half a chance. I consider an obsession with making the right choices both one of the benefits of autism and one of its downsides. We all have to make choices, but some of them are just too hard to properly prioritize when one is sleep-deprived, hungry, dirty, and blorping out bodily fluids that need hygienic disposal.

Menstruating homeless women find themselves with a nasty joke of a math story problem, and it has no correct answer, only slightly less wrong ones, often when they're in no state of mind to make good choices even if there were any.

I'll admit, I considered shoplifting tampons when I was homeless, and the math didn't work at all with less than a dollar in my pocket, but I could imagine all too well how upsetting it would be to be arrested for stealing tampons.

Homeless People Have Limited Wardrobes

If you get a bit of red on your designated period panties, you can change into another pair and spray the dirty ones with stain remover or even toss them in the sink for a wash. But a homeless woman will quickly run out of changes of whatever item of clothing gets stained if she has to carry all her possessions around with her.

Those little period accidents are a lot less frequent when you have access to enough pads or tampons to change them as often as needed.

A homeless woman on a bench, everything she owns in a bag by her head.
A homeless woman on a bench, everything she owns in a bag by her head. | Source

Lack of Sleep and Rough Sleeping Increases Cramping, Pain, Fatigue and Headaches

A homed woman can go to bed at night with a heating pad or hot water bottle and an overnight pad with wings stuck in her most comfy granny-panties. She can take a Pamprin, maybe have a cup of hot tea and a nibble of dark chocolate, and go off to sleep in comfort in her favorite jammies.

A homeless woman may not be able to sleep at night at all because she's on constant alert for predators. She may already be sore from sleeping on the ground and she has no hot water bottle and no cupboard with a bottle of Midol and a selection of teas in it. Homelessness almost guarantees sleep deprivation, which is proven to harm pain processing.

How About Helping Out?

You can help the homeless women in your area deal with periods by donating pads, tampons, hand sanitizer, and cleansing wipes to your local homeless charities and food banks. You could also make and distribute hygiene kits yourself.

What to Put in a Feminine Hygiene Period Kit for Homeless Women

There are a number of options when it comes to making feminine hygiene care kits for women with insufficient access to running water. Kits should contain hand sanitizer and cleansing wipes. Instructions for use and disposal or storage of the items included in the kit are also a good idea. There are a few choices to make after that.

I've given examples of a few different kinds of kits to give you some ideas of how to make up a few yourself, if you so choose. Please keep in mind that these are just ideas and however you use them is good. I'm sure just about any homeless woman or girl would be thankful for whatever pads or tampons you give her.

These kits can be assembled in quart or gallon-sized Ziploc bags to keep their contents safe and dry.

#1 Super Basic Feminine Hygiene Street Period Kit

  • hand sanitizer
  • cleansing wipes
  • a package of pads or a package of tampons

#2 Kit Idea

  • hand sanitizer
  • cleansing wipes
  • a package of pads
  • a package of tampons

#3 Kit Idea

  • hand sanitizer
  • cleansing wipes
  • a package of pads
  • a package of tampons
  • a pack of panty liners
  • a bottle of pain reliever

#4 Slightly More Eco-Conscious Very Basic Kit Idea

  • hand sanitizer
  • cleansing wipes
  • a menstrual cup
  • printed instructions for use

#5 Slightly More Eco-Conscious Period Kit Idea

  • hand sanitizer
  • cleansing wipes
  • a menstrual cup
  • cloth pads
  • pain reliever
  • printed instructions for use

The Types of Pads, Tampons, and Other Health and Hygiene Items I Think are Best for These Kits and Why


I think the thin, individually wrapped pads with wings are the best all-round choice for pads to include in a care package for homeless women and girls. They are less likely to chafe when a woman is doing a lot of walking and the wings help them stay stuck to panties through a lot of moving about. They also work for light or heavy days and the individual wrappers help protect the pads and keep them clean until they're ready to be used.

Overnight pads that are longer may also be advantageous because they provide more coverage, reducing the possibility of leaks.


While tampons without applicators may be better for the environment, they are a bit dicey to insert with fingers that may not be sparkling clean and minty fresh. So I'd highly recommend tampons with applicators that are individually wrapped in plastic to keep them clean and pristine as new fallen snow until needed.

Panty Liners:

Any individually wrapped, unscented panty liner with decent adhesive that covers most of the bottom of the liner is a good thing. Liners with very little adhesive coverage have a tendency to come loose, so they should be avoided. Scented liners can irritate and may not smell good to the woman who gets them. Scented liners also may serve as a reminder that another choice has been made for her in an already out-of-control world.

Menstrual Cups:

Any menstrual cup that's made of silicone and has an easy-to-grip removal stem would be a good choice. Silicone is good because the cup can be heat sterilized if necessary, it's pliable and long-lasting, too. Cups that come with sturdy storage containers are always a plus.

Hand Sanitizer:

I recommend getting the clear, unscented hand sanitizer that comes in pocket-sized bottles without any colored plastic beads in it. Those plastic beads aren't doing the environment any favors and nobody wants to find little sparkly bits on her used sanitary napkin.

Feminine Wipes:

Forget the branded feminine wipes, get flushable wet toilet wipes instead. Those little feminine wipe packets seldom have enough cleansing liquid in them and the wipes inside are often tiny, folded things textured like hand wipes. The wipes intended to help people wipe their bottoms cleaner in the bathroom are bigger and softer and much better at cleaning things up. The unscented kind of whatever wipe you get is best as some people are sensitive or even allergic to scents, especially when used near delicate skin areas.

Period Pain Reliever:

Pamprin, Midol, Tylenol, Advil, and their generics are all pretty good for relieving menstrual pain. While one of the formulas intended for menstrual pain relief, like Midol or Pamprin, would probably be the most welcome, any pain reliever would be a blessing.

Should More Be Done to Get Pads and Tampons to Homeless Women and Girls?

Should something be done to help homeless women and girls deal with periods?

  • Yes, absolutely. Whoever helps out is awesome.
  • Yes, but only private charities should handle it.
  • No, women should buy their own tampons. I'm not subsidizing anyone's female lifestyle.
  • No.
  • I have something else incredibly eloquent to add and I'll do so in the comments below.
See results without voting

This is What a Menstrual Cup Looks Like

Soft Comfy Medical Silicone Reusable Feminine Menstrual Cup Lady Menstruation Small/large 2 Colors (Large, Pink)
Soft Comfy Medical Silicone Reusable Feminine Menstrual Cup Lady Menstruation Small/large 2 Colors (Large, Pink)

Please don't take this inclusion of an Amazon ad for a menstrual cup to be an endorsement of Amazon as a place to purchase the things. Please take it, instead, as a deep and abiding laziness of the author, whose tepid efforts could not produce any royalty-free images of menstrual cups that looked as good as the one in the advertisement. These are only about five bucks though, so it isn't a terrible source for them.


Menstrual Cups are a Great Solution But...

They aren't as permanent a solution as they should be. Keep in mind homeless people have a hard time hanging onto possessions. Their stuff gets lost, stolen, and ruined quite frequently.

Rebuttals and Preemptive Rebuttals of Some Ignorant Comments

These remarks are in no particular order and may expand to include rebuttals to more ignorant comments and questions once this article starts getting some more of its own. Most of these are based on remarks I've seen on Twitter and in the comments of other pieces on homeless women's problems getting the pads, tampons, and other feminine hygiene items they need. A few are rebuttals to comments made by people in response to this webpage specifically.

#1. If women chose not to be homeless they wouldn't have these problems.

This one is easy. I've already written an entire editorial about poor choices and homelessness and another about reasons people become homeless. How about you go give them a read?

Poor Choices and Homelessness

Some Reasons People Become Homeless

#2. Why are you saying taxpayers should spend money on buying pads when it could be better spent on drug testing these women and training them how to flip burgers and stock shelves?

Give a woman a pad today and she'll be comfortable for a few hours hours; teach her how to flip burgers and she can interview for McDonalds with a wad of toilet paper in her panties and a trace of menstrual blood on her hands a few times a month until she's fifty-something. See how it doesn't really compare to the old 'give a man a fish' bit?

Escaping homelessness isn't as simple as getting a job and getting out.

#3. Why not just let the job creators keep the tax money so they can create more jobs so no one will be homeless?

Just like 'thug' has become a code word used to replace the frowned-upon 'n-word' amongst those of conservative bent, 'job creators' is a code word for all wealthy people including those who will never put a single penny of it back into the economy if they can avoid it. We get it; you're against helping poor people on the public dime.

The article doesn't even talk about the public dime. It only guides people to see the problem and suggests how they can do something kind about it. I doubt the same people who would want to give feminine products to women and girls would be interested in giving money to corporations in the hopes they'll hire those homeless women instead.

#4. Shouldn't we be putting our efforts into stopping the human trafficking trade (or fill in any other cause in this spot) instead because it's much worse?

Ah, there's always something worse or more important, isn't there? I guess we all ought to just crawl under our blankies with our handguns and do nothing at all if we can't do everything. And, do tell, what can we do to help victims of human trafficking (or other cause)? There's no reason people can't direct their attention and compassion toward more than one thing.

There are also some things people are better equipped to help with. If I can't do surgery for underprivileged children because I'm not a surgeon, does it mean I shouldn't help construct a Habitat for Humanity home in my neighborhood even if I can hang drywall? Packing some feminine hygiene products in a Ziploc and giving them to every homeless woman you see doesn't require a lot of time, money, or skill.

#5. Doesn't Welfare already provide this stuff?

Nope. That's a big NO. Many homeless women in the US do not qualify for any aid but food assistance and tampons and pads cannot be bought on a food card.

#6. Won't homeless women abuse the pain medication?

There's really no recreational use for over-the-counter pain medication. You could kill yourself with it by overdosing on the Tylenol-based products but it is a very slow and painful way to die. We get it; you think the women should be allowed to suffer pain if they can't afford a home.

#7. Won't the women drink the hand sanitizer to get drunk?

Since the average woman would be so eager to use it for its intended purpose, it seems highly unlikely. If you think it's a real concern and not just your desire to treat them as lesser beings, you could add sanitizing hand wipes to the kits instead of the more convenient little bottles.

Why, of All Things, Write about Homeless Periods?

The question people really should be asking me is why didn't I do it sooner?

Homelessness really messed me up and I wasn't fully put together or even fully grown-up before that. Even before my parents left, I had issues dealing with periods. I have autism which interferes with my ability to interact with people already, but on top of that, I lived in some degree or other of poverty during most of my childhood.

Speaking up about my menstrual needs was never easy, not even to my mom, who was extremely empathetic and pragmatic. Part of it was my difficulty getting the courage to verbally express myself, but a lot of it was that I knew how tight the money was. I hated making my family spend money on me; I hated it so much I even tried to hide it when I was sick, so I wouldn't cost the family a doctor's visit. So when my period started, I tried to handle it myself, with wads of TP stuffed in to plug the flow.

I still felt bad about using extra toilet paper. I remember my dad saying, "Jesus Christ, Nancy, what's happening to the toilet paper?" and me feeling like a thief. It's a good thing he noticed, though. If my mom hadn't been a very perceptive woman and guessed at my needs, I might have never stopped tucking toilet paper into my underpants.

Something about how much I depended on the actions and rules of others to stay clean and comfortable during my period began to upset me when I got to Junior High and school worked differently than it had before. There wasn't enough time between my classes to use the bathroom, a situation complicated by many other girls also needing to use the same bathroom between classes, which created lines. Not all teachers allowed students to use the restroom during class time, either.

Even as I got older, went to high school, and grew more confident in dealing with period issues, it still made me feel like my body was out of my control, that embarrassment and humiliation were one wrong adjustment of the underwear or one poorly crafted question away. I was clueless.

I wore my pads oddly and they were the thick, cheap kind. When I heard the whispers of other girls saying they could see my pad I wanted to disappear. I tried cutting the pads down, removing some of their stuffing, and even wearing tight underpants over my underpants to try to squash the embarrassing bulge of napkin. None of those things were good ideas for a large number of reasons and they all lead to further embarrassment. Kids are brutal.

My body decided I didn't have enough embarrassment, inconvenience, and pain in my life or something round about my sophomore year of high school. I started having nasty periods that came with serious cramps and lasted ten days to a month, starting and stopping unpredictably. I started referring to them as question marks instead of periods because I never knew on any given day whether or not I'd be bleeding.

I went into homelessness already feeling lousy about my long, heavy, unpredictable periods. Then my life went to complete and utter crap.

My momma told me when I was little that I must always, always wash my hands with soap and water before touching my privates. When it came to teaching me to use pads, she reminded me of that advice. Since I was absolutely fascinated by science, I understood germ theory well enough to recognize the wisdom of her words and take them to heart. Within two weeks of losing my home, I was without access to running water, changing pads behind bushes, and wearing the same underwear for days in a row. I was also losing my mind as only a recently raped young adult with Aspergers and OCD wondering whether she's seeing menstrual blood on her hand or if the knife wound on it has reopened and bled through the bandage, can do.

Later, after a different assault, I drove myself nuts one evening trying to figure out if the blood in my underwear came from my uterus or from the healing knife injury to my privates. Me and homeless periods didn't get along so well.

I didn't even want to have a vagina, much less be reminded of its existence in an embarrassing way. But it's not like I, or any other woman, ever chose to be born with a uterus that sheds its bloody lining once a month.

So homeless periods are emotionally-charged and a little bit triggering to so much as think about. That's why it's taken so long for me to write. That's also why I feel it's a good thing to do.

It would have been a kind thing if anyone had helped me out with feminine hygiene products when I was homeless. Perhaps writing about it will help others who are looking for ways to be more kind, more aware of the human beings who need help within arms-reach.

Have You Ever Had a Period While Homeless?

Have you ever been homeless and had the misfortune to also be menstruating?

  • No
  • Yes
  • Something else. Really? It's a pretty cut and dried yes or no question but if you insist, please explain in the comment section below.
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© 2015 Kylyssa Shay

More by this Author

What Are Your Thoughts on Homelessness, Periods, and Tampons for Homeless Women? No Swearing, Please. 17 comments

Kylyssa profile image

Kylyssa 3 months ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA Author

You are fortunate to have such a sweet and compassionate niece. I would have cried with happiness when I was on the street if anyone had given me anything intended purely to make me feel better about myself. It shows a special sort of considerate love to care about how homeless women feel. I've encountered so many people who are resistant to giving or sometimes even letting homeless people keep what they have during my time volunteering and writing to spread awareness that I think I've been subconsciously afraid to suggest any luxuries no matter how small.

I've also known people who were beaten by homed people for owning something nice and I personally experienced frightening harassment for wearing clothing above my social status on my way to a job interview. For me, people's anger at me being dressed too well got scary even though it got no more physical than a cluster of women screaming at me and shoving me down the sidewalk, preventing me from reaching my interview clean and on time. It was scary because this group of four women were acting like a miniature mob and it felt like they were herding me somewhere to hurt me. It was emotionally horrible because they ruined a chance at escaping my awful life. I don't know that I'd have gotten the job if I had arrived clean and not shaking, but I'm guessing my chances would have been a lot better. The clothing wasn't even my own. Some small part of me blames those four women for the things that happened to me on the street after that and before I landed a job.

But you know what? To heck with them! I think the idea that poor people should lead lives of absolute austerity, not even accepting anything that isn't necessary to stay alive (and only the most inexpensive versions of those things) needs to be demolished. Even though I didn't really realize it until right now, I have given too much power to those four women and to everyone else like them. They don't deserve it, so I'm going to try to take it away by educating people to the value of small, loving gifts and to the value of feeling like a part of society that not everyone wants to destroy. Your comment and ideas came at just the right time for me to hear them and to act on them. Thank you!

Pepper 3 months ago

My niece has been putting together packages that not only supplies the items that you have mentioned, also little things like a tube of lipstick, tube of mascara, piece of costume jewelry, hair clips, etc. Anything that might help someone feel a little better about herself. She has been doing this for over a year now in memory of her younger sister who has passed. She now has a huge support group of not only family and friends, but her place of employment has gotten involved. The main area that they are donating to is Camden, NJ but also other intercities in southern NJ.

scensibles 9 months ago

Finally we are starting to talk about periods and homeless women and others who struggle economically to provide an adequate supply of sanitary pads for themselves and their daughters! Groups, businesses, individuals are organizing drives and parties to collect feminine care products. Contact us at @scensiblesbags and visit @padparties to learn more.

Kylyssa profile image

Kylyssa 12 months ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA Author

I would not be surprised if your mom had similar problems as women living in poverty so often do. Poverty seems to provide an endless supply of indignities, but I think this is one of them that is fairly easy to help out with. I think giving women the pads and tampons themselves rather than money is very helpful. It takes the food or pads (or medicine or diapers or homeless shelter fees, etc.) decision off of them and prevents mothers from feeling guilty for spending money on themselves. Thank you for reading and thank you for looking for new ways to express your kindness.

savvydating profile image

savvydating 12 months ago

Frankly, I'd wondered about showers and menstruation problems of homeless women, but, duh, I never thought what to do about it. Now I know and I am very grateful to you for being so specific!

My mother raised my brother and I on her own, and because she had no real skills, we were dirt poor. I remember her mentioning years later that she didn't always have underwear. I have a feeling that she probably had these issues with sanitary napkins too. Luckily, we had housing and one uncle, in particular, would let us live with him for a time until my mother found other housing. Anyway, I digress. My point is that you've reminded me to get off my butt and do something to help homeless women. I hadn't thought of Midol and wipes, but that's a great idea. Thank you for writing this important piece, I am sorry you had to go through all that crap. I've always considered homeless people very brave to not "end it all." I still do.

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 16 months ago from Home Sweet Home

true, having period when you are homeless is a big mess. When I am out of pads, i used to wrap up my bloody pad with clean toilet paper rolls and keep changing new toilet paper every few hours per day. It could last 5 days without changing a new pad

Janu Jeevan profile image

Janu Jeevan 16 months ago

Thank you for this article. It is very informative.

Kylyssa profile image

Kylyssa 16 months ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA Author

Thank you for reading and sharing. I hope that more people become aware of this issue. I hope to live to see the day when this page doesn't mean anything except from a historical context because poverty has become a thing of the past. Meanwhile, I hope more people will start to take action as they see and learn about what is going on around them.

I've learned that most people are willing to help others, have a desire to help, and only need information to get them started.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 16 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

I commend you for taking on this topic and for doing such an impressive job of including all important aspects.

It is quite necessary to discuss, in order that those who can help in terms of donations, will be certain to do so.

You're right Klylyssa. This is not something that is readily considered and yet it's an issue that truly requires attention.

You have presented this vital info in an appropriate manner and for this, I thank you. UP++ pinned.

Kylyssa profile image

Kylyssa 16 months ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA Author

@Bob a.k.a. no body

Thank you for your comment and for being so considerate of your wife's needs. Sadly, many women don't have anyone to care about their needs. I think it's up to all of us who can to step up and help however we can.

no body profile image

no body 16 months ago from Rochester, New York

I am pulled in so many directions that my mind actually hurts! I have so much in my head about this that I'm tempted to write a hub! But maybe I can be concise and won't need to...

Any time a man starts any explanation with the words: "Most men would avoid this comment box like the plague... but I'm not like most men..." you rest assured that I'm considered weird and unusual by many people that know me.

In my literal interpretation of the Scripture my understanding of the physical relationship of married men and women is that the two are "one flesh." When a man generally says what one flesh means he says that "the husband is to care about what she cares about. He is to see that all of her needs are met sexually and emotionally." They SAY that but when the cramps come and the frayed nerves of menstruation comes they make themselves scarce. They purposely avoid all physical aspects of maintenance. They will not know or even go to buy any supplies for her. They will plan their schedule to include things to not even be in their wives presence during those few days. In my opinion, it is a spiritual crime against women that husbands do.

I can't tell you how long I knew I was going to share my life with a woman in wedded bliss. I was a very young boy (probably about 14 or4 15) and I was reading everything I could get my hands on about what women have to go through. I was going to be able to be brave and strong for my wife when she needed me the most. I learned from my dad that an understanding silence and the offer of a tummy rub helped my mom through something horrible she suffered every so often. I learned from watching her and my watching other women that each woman needs something different from their man. Some want isolation and to be pampered at their whim. Some just need their man to understand that she is not comfortable.

Life experience made me like an a gynecologist's "Igor" companion. I now knew too much to be useful (I thought). I really did think of her period as "our period." I knew all about what was considered normal periods and I knew that I was supposed to know those things for my wife. She was constantly saying to me, "Do you think this is normal?" And I often replied to her "No!" At my request she would make appointments with the doctor. She would go to the appointments with questions that I wanted her to ask. I know the doctor was getting upset with me but damn it, I knew something was not right. I have been married before for 20 years, gone through things and I had all of this knowledge.

She changed doctors twice before the fateful day I got a call and said she needed me NOW! I shot home in a flash to bright red blood all over the bathroom and all in the tub, the volume was amazing. I called 911 and my sweet wife had lost 4 pints of blood! She came very close to dying yet her doctors kept telling her that maybe her period problem was weight related or "that her period just had to take its course," "The period would just have to bleed until it was done." [my paraphrase].

What had happened is that uterine tissue (clots) tore some major capillaries and she was not bleeding menstrual blood but bright red blood from her veins... now one hysterectomy later, we are period free.

So with that all in mind, I am horrified at the thought that a poor woman would have to be ignored by their husband who was giving her space to "get over it." Or so much worse, the woman on the street can't even clean up all that sticky mess. I didn't miss my life's calling. I was called to be a Christian husband. I just wish I could make more men understand how very important their wives are. How very much a little consideration goes when these things happen. I voted up and useful and interesting. Bob.

Kylyssa profile image

Kylyssa 16 months ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA Author

@Social Thoughts

This is an important topic, something making so many women miserable and depressed and I truly wish I'd been able to make myself write about it much sooner.


You are so right about not getting a period while homeless being even more disturbing! After each rape, it was Hell waiting even a day for that miserable period to come and I cried with relief every one of those times when it did. I knew several women who were absolutely terrified they were pregnant after assaults but were lucky in that they were just not having their periods from stress and hunger. I knew one woman who was not at all lucky in that way and I have no idea what happened to her.


It's something I never, ever considered until I was homeless myself and then more or less blocked out afterwards. I think that if we can just tell other women about this problem, they'll understand it immediately and care about it on a gut level. From responses from the men in my circle of family and friends, they understand it and care about it, too. They just seem to need a little bit more information to get to the same understanding.

@all of you

Thank you for reading and leaving such kind, supportive comments!

ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 16 months ago from New Delhi, India

This is such an important hub and hats off to you for writing on this subject. Most of us would not even think about it, I mean the problems faced if the females are in such situation.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful and much needed hub, spreading awareness. Voted up!

ReadDeeply 16 months ago

The only thing that shook me more than getting my period when I had no home and few, sometimes no, safe places to go, was not getting it. Thank goodness I was able to start Grad. school that Fall (student loans permitted me the financial base to get a new apt.) or I believe I would have miscarried again. The homeless in our country are like lost souls. At least, it sure felt that way.

social thoughts profile image

social thoughts 16 months ago from New Jersey


Thank you for sharing your story and providing so much information. I hadn't thought about this, which is a surprise. I am sure most reading this, who haven't been homeless, will be similarly surprised they hadn't thought of it. I hope this inspires more articles from you and others. This topic is so important!

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Kylyssa 16 months ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA Author

Unfortunately, Planned Parenthood doesn't provide pads or tampons to low income women and they probably can't afford to.

I'm delighted to see you here looking for new ways to be kind.

Karrie Sue 16 months ago

I think that this is a wonderful article and I applaud you for writing it. I have honestly never given this topic much thought, which I feel almost ashamed to say, but I completely understand how this would be a major issue for the poor and homeless. I was wondering if planned parenthood would help provide items? But regardless, your link to the cup on amazon is actually a blessing because that is the cheapest I have seen them!!! so thank you!! I sew a lot and love idea of making this kits with re-usable liners and pads (I just worry about the clean up then, good thing rainwater and sunlight can clean anything). Again, great article and thank you for bringing this topic to the forefront of peoples minds, people like me who want to help but do not necessarily know how!

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    Kylyssa profile image

    Kylyssa Shay (Kylyssa)316 Followers
    167 Articles

    Kylyssa Shay was homeless for over a year in her youth; it lead to her activism involving homelessness. She thinks, feels, and has opinions.

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