Rural Menstrual Health Survey
Too often menstrual health statistics are based on urban or city-centric experiences, so Modibodi launched our Regional Australia Menstrual Health Survey 2023 to gather insights from people living outside of urban areas.
The results told a story of people not always being able to afford or access the products they need, finding that their local store dose not have enough stock. Respondents spoke of challenges of being in paddocks or out on the land and not having the facilities to manage their period easily.
Modibodi has started a conversation around how regional Australians manage their periods. To keep this conversation going head to our Blog down below for our summary. To download a copy of the full report, here.
2023 survey reveals menstrual health challenges in regional Australia.
For many of us, obtaining period-care products isn’t a particularly onerous task. We can pop down to the shops, pay someone to pick things up for us and make a medical appointment in minutes. This got us thinking: what do you do if the nearest supermarket is hours away, or if the only doctor available to you is booked out?
It didn’t take us long to realise that most menstrual health reports focus on urban experiences, not rural ones. And while living in a city doesn’t always equate to idyllic period care, it can be even tougher in smaller towns.
So, to better understand the experiences of rural bleeders, we launched our Regional Australia Menstrual Health Survey 2023. The results were confronting. From not being able to afford or access period products, to a lack of facilities while working on the land, the survey results paint a stark landscape of the reality many rural Aussies face.
What are they key takeaways?
There’s a lot to unpack here but here’s some key stats:
- 36% of respondents could ‘Not Always’ access period care products when they needed them.
- 70% of respondents were ‘Not Always’ able to purchase the period care products (types / brands) they would most like to use.
- 69% of respondents found the cost of period care products was ‘Not Always’ affordable to them.
- 30% of respondents had taken some time off work due to their period, with over 40% of respondents citing physical and emotional symptoms as the key challenges during their menstrual cycle.
Ok, let’s get into the nitty gritty.
Over 150 open text comments were submitted into our Regional Australia Menstrual Health Survey. Here’s what they said:
64% struggle with a lack of availability of products at regional stores.
“Access to products can be difficult with many products out of stock and limited opening hours, which means I can’t always buy the things I when need them.”
“Places like servos don’t stock products I can use as my skin reacts to most pads and I have never been able to use tampons, which makes buying items in a hurry and overall, tricky.”
55% have difficulty even accessing stores that stock period care products.
“Product breadth at stores is more limited and more expensive than in the city. Stores have limited opening hours (e.g., earlier weekday closing hours, closed half day Saturday and all-day Sunday).”
“I need to have a big supply of products to last my whole period at all times. The supermarket run may not happen for 3 weeks and ‘ducking down to the shops' isn’t a thing because there aren’t any shops.”
“Distance to store that stocks products Local shop (20 mins away) could rely on if stuck - but only during their operating hours. Otherwise drive 80km to nearest Woolies. Still a stigma around purchasing period products so not that keen to do so in tiny local store.”
55% say preparation is crucial.
“You have to be prepared/think ahead and stock up as you can't just pop to the shop to get some. I work locally and live on a property, so I have to have menstrual items in multiple places e.g., car glovebox, work bag, bathroom so I'm ready no matter whether I'm in the house, paddock, at work or travelling somewhere.”
“You have to make sure that you stock up on enough products when you have the opportunity to, and make sure you are using them appropriately, so you don’t run out.”
52% note a real lack of choice of period products.
“Local chemist and Woolworths do not stock all brands, sizes etc of reusable products so I have to travel 2+ hrs to purchase these preferred brands (or online).”
“I often notice products out of stock on the shelf in our local supermarket. I am also aware of price increases on these items, so I am concerned for the women in my community.”
35% struggle with the high cost of products at regional stores.
“The cost of period products seems to be more so I will at times wait until I am in the city for work and buy them there where I have more options and the price is cheaper.”
“I feel the cost is higher and the options are less to access them. In the city they are always on sale somewhere and there are lots of options; here, unless we want to order something specific online and wait (and incur the additional shipping also) we have to just buy what’s available at the time.”
21% list inadequate (public) toilets as a big barrier, during their period.
“I need to track my cycle as well as possible as I can be remote in a paddock on a motorbike for 6-8 hours a day. My schedule may need to change due to my period as I don't have access to toilet/washing facilities for hours a day. It can be frustrating.”
“There was a stock camp where workers camped out for weeks at a time. There was no toilet and no bins. Periods were a nightmare. The boss didn’t care. This is a very common problem.”
17% say their town lacks adequate waste disposal facilities.
“Due to not having rubbish collection, thought must go into the logistics of having menstrual products sitting in a bin until a time I am able to drive them to the local tip (40min+)”
“Less public toilets available – further to travel to use public toilets and if and when you do locate them, they generally don't have sanitary disposal units because it is expensive in the regions to have the company’s travelling to service them.”
11% struggle to access to Medical Professionals, including long travel and wait times for specialists.
“I required gynaecological management but the wait time for an appointment is ridiculous. With the lack of specialists servicing our area, you either have to travel to the city for an earlier appointment (3hr each way) or wait longer to see someone close by.”
“I have both endometriosis and polycystic ovaries, when being clinically assessed and diagnosed I was sent to Australian cities (capitals) for assistance given the lack of expertise and care available to me in my hometown region.”
“If you need to see a GP or gyno in relation to your menstrual cycle, it is extremely difficult to obtain an appointment due to high demand and limited practitioners and also involves long distance travel to get to a specialist.”
11% say there's still stigma and taboo attached to Menstrual Health.
“When you grow up in a small town in is really embarrassing to go to a local store. If you live with stepdad or some other tricky situation, it’s hard to ask.”
“We are getting there but there needs to be so much more acceptance and taboo removed from women's health in regional communities.”
Where to from here?
Understanding the challenges all menstruating people face can help us all to better support each and inform the landscape we bleed in.
If you know someone who lives far away, consider sending them a period-care package. For others, consider writing to your local council, school and government representatives to demand better outcomes and services for regional towns. We also think our reusable Period Undies are a convenient option and always available Being able to wear, wash and reuse our period undies can help save time and money.