Menstruation In Incarceration

Updated: Feb 23, 2019

What is it like to be on your period while you are incarcerated? I interviewed a woman who spent two years of her life behind bars and she opened up about what it is like to be menstruating in prison.




"They only give you 10-15 tampons or pads every month and if you run out...too bad, if you bleed on your pants because you ran out...too bad."

I asked this anonymous returning citizen why the prison system would limit how many tampons or pads a woman receives every month. She replied, "Honestly, some girls use their extra tampons to make dildos in prison."


My first thought was, So what? Let them! My second thought was, oh it must be about the bottom line. Prisons usually use "budget constraints" as their top reason to avoid paying for necessary toiletries/amenities for prisoners.


"My real problem is when a young girl starts her period, she's already traumatized going through the system, but then on top of all that she has to ask a male guard for pads, and you know young girls aren't always good at knowing when it's going to happen so they have accidents, but you're only allowed so many pairs of pants in jail."


Federal prison provides free tampons/pads to their inmates and soon many states will follow suit.


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