Period Stigma Around the World Today

Despite increasing attention and advocacy, periods remain a taboo topic. Always, WASH United and Glocalities surveyed adults and young people from five countries to assess period stigma today.

Periods are associated with negative feelings from an early age, despite being a normal bodily function.

When getting their first period, young people feel:1






Emoticon worried

lose confidence at puberty2 and starting their period marks their lowest point in confidence during their teenage years3.

Of the countries surveyed, the UK is in the top 3 for having negative feelings towards their periods or hiding their periods.4

Feeling about period survey chart
3 in 5 have tried to hide the fact they’re on their period from those around them.

3 in 5 have tried to hide the fact they’re on their period from those around them.4

2 in five people feel ashamed

2 in 5 have felt ashamed or embarrassed by their own period.4

Period conversations are a challenge.

Talking about periods survey chart

Less than half of adults say they support talking about periods5 and far less actually do talk about them4.

Table about sensitive topics talking across countries

People feel more comfortable talking about other sensitive topics like sex, politics and family problems than they do about periods4.

When people talk about periods, it’s often done in a negative way.

Period blood survey chart

In the UK, 1 in 3 people have referred to period blood as gross or disgusting.4

Period blood survey chart

In the UK, whilst nearly 1 in 3 believe period jokes are harmless fun, young people say they make them feel self-conscious (42%), embarrassed (33%) and less confident (28%).1

Period education is key, and mums and teachers are the most influential resources.1 But not everyone is prepared to teach their kids about periods.4

Young people learn about period from mums
Period Education chart

54% of adults feel they have enough knowledge to talk to their children about puberty and periods.


The higher the % of society that talks openly about periods, the more prepared people feel to talk about periods with their children (correlation 0.4).

You Can Help End Period Stigma!

Get Educated About Periods


about periods.

Get comfortable


about periods.



for period friendly legislation (e.g. free provision of period products for those in need).

Show Your Support

by joining the Menstruation Bracelet Action this #MHDay. Learn more here.

For more information, please visit or contact Kiran Behal (

Wash United
Logo Glocalities


  1. SurveyMonkey, 2020. Quantitative survey of young people 13–21 yrs in Canada, UK, US. n=4,147.
  2. Research Now, 2017. Quantitative survey of females 16–24 yrs in Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, Russia, Turkey, UK, US. n=9,289.
  3. Research Now, 2014. Quantitative survey of females 16–24 yrs in US. n=1,300.
  4. Glocalities, 2020. Quantitative survey of adults 18–70 yrs in Canada, China, Russia, UK, US. n=5,139.
  5. Glocalities, 2019. Quantitative survey of adults 18–70 yrs, Global. n=30,057.

For both Glocalities studies: Data is nationally representative with respect to age (18–70) by gender, region and education (low & mid-levels of education are combined for China only)