Breaking down the stigma on menstruation

By Tala Alsharif

The PERIOD club at Youngstown State University raises awareness about menstruation and menstrual health.

The club was formed in spring 2023 and is a chapter of PERIOD, a national organization surrounding the menstrual movement. 

PERIOD’s goal is to reduce the stigma that surrounds menstruation and to increase access to menstrual products. 

President of the PERIOD club, Divya Warrier, started the club her freshman year and said she hopes it increases conversations about menstruation.

“I know there’s a big stigma around even talking about it,” Warrier said. “We’re bringing that to the table and saying, ‘Hey it’s okay to talk about it — let’s talk more about it.’” 

Vice president Shruthi Datla said it’s important to make menstruation a topic that can be talked about with no negative connotations.

“It’s important because … not many people want to talk about it,” Datla said. “It’s really important to make it something that we can talk about openly.”

Warrier said the club also brings awareness to issues such as period poverty, which refers to the inaccessibility of menstrual products and education.

“Period poverty rates are really high,” Warrier said. “A lot of people aren’t able to afford menstrual products … to get them through their periods each month.”

One of the national chapter’s accomplishments was advocating for the repeal of the pink tax in Ohio, which taxed hygiene products such as pads and tampons. 

PERIOD club at YSU hosts drives to collect period products and donates them to community groups and partners in Youngstown.

“Last [semester], we donated [all products] to Ursuline Sisters who help with Beatitude House, which is a women’s shelter in Youngstown,” Warrier said. 

A period product drive was hosted from Oct. 18 to Nov. 6, where PERIOD collected disposable menstrual products such as pads, tampons and panty liners.

Warrier said she believes donation drives are the best way to directly help and reach out to the community.

“At the end of our drive … we got together and put together packages of all the products that were donated so that we can just send them out,” Datla said. 

The period packages contained a week’s worth of menstrual hygiene products. 

Warrier said some of the club’s future goals are to donate to the Penguin Pantry and increase their product drives to one each semester. Warrier said she hopes to work with the Student Government Association for its Aunt Flow initiative.

SGA supports the Aunt Flow project by providing dispensers of menstrual products in bathrooms on campus.

“We are hoping to work with SGA to increase their supply of products because they can only get so many,” Warrier said. “We’re looking to see if we could potentially fundraise or to help get them more products … for that project.”

The PERIOD club plans to have more educational events, fundraising and other events in the future. 

Warrier and Dalta said students who want to be involved can attend general body meetings, volunteer and donate products.