The menstrual precariousness can be defined by the fact of not having enough financial means to be able to acquire the products of intimate hygiene necessary during our period (sanitary protections, medicines to relieve the pain… ).

With the COVID-19 crisis, this precariousness has increased, especially among students, whether or not they have a scholarship, who have to finance their studies and their daily life, often without the help of a student job because of the large number of shops and restaurants closed due to the confinements and the health crisis. Nearly a third of female students are said to be affected by menstrual insecurity.

But students are not the only ones: according to figures from the Ministry of Solidarity and Health, more than 2 million women are said to be experiencing difficulties, or are unable to buy their sanitary protection. Menstrual insecurity is mainly due to financial reasons.

Studies show that the average cost per menstrual cycle is €7.50 for sanitary protection and painkillers. This would lead to an average lifetime cost of €3800.

Who are the women affected by menstrual insecurity?

Menstrual insecurity affects many women from different backgrounds.

Homeless women are among those living in very precarious conditions and unable to afford sanitary protection.

Women in prison, dependent on the distribution of the prison administration, are sometimes obliged to make their own makeshift sanitary protection, using socks or toilet gloves (testimonies received by OIP), due to the small quantity of pads available in these establishments.

Many girls, whose parents are unable to buy sanitary protection because of insufficient financial means, do not go to school when they have their period in order to avoid shameful looks in case of “leakage”, and thus avoid feeling devalued.

This situation can be detrimental to their school career, attendance, and/or feelings of isolation. According to some studies, there are more than 130,000 of them.

Finally, female students are also affected by menstrual insecurity, and almost one in 10 students make their own sanitary protection, and 1 in 20 uses toilet paper for lack of other solutions.

Menstrual insecurity can be aggravated if the patient has heavy periods (menorrhagia) and long periods (>5 days). Treatments that are reimbursed by the social security system (tranexamic acid, progestogen or oestrogen-progestogen pills and hormonal IUDs) can help these women to overcome this precariousness.

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Intended use

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read also : How To Live Better With Your Periods ?

What are the possible solutions?

This concern about menstrual insecurity has led the government to take various measures. Thus, 5 million euros have been granted to marauding operations and solidarity grocery shops to provide the most destitute women in France with a massive supply.

Students have obtained free access to environmentally friendly sanitary protection. Dispensers have been set up in CROUS university residences for the start of the academic year in September 2021, in university health services and in university restaurants, to make them accessible to as many people as possible.


Menstrual insecurity affects many women in France and around the world. Initial measures have been put in place to try to reduce this inequality of access to sanitary protection and menstrual well-being.

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Co-authored and scientifically validated by Dr Jean-Philippe Estrade

Gynecological and obstetrical surgeon, expert in endometriosis at the Clairval Private Hospital and the Bouchard Clinic, in Marseille.