PHILADELPHIA (CBS Local) — Teenage girls and women living in “period poverty” in Philadelphia don’t have to worry as much as before about having access to pads and tampons thanks to a local health advocate.
Sexual health counselor Lynette Medley, 50, said she began buying and collecting donations of pads and tampons after a 15-year-old girl told her in 2016 she couldn’t afford period products.
“How am I supposed to respect my body,” the teen asked, “when one week a month I don’t even have supplies to take care of it?”
The girl told Medley that she scavenged for socks and gloves in lost-and-found boxes, wrapped them in toilet paper and layered it with construction paper to absorb excess blood.
The inability to afford period products, a phenomenon known as “period poverty,” gained attention in developing countries after a 2018 documentary on the topic, “Period. End of Sentence.,” won an Academy Award for best documentary short subject.
But “people don’t even realize it exists here, too,” Medley told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Medley, CEO and founder of No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit, a sexuality awareness and counseling organization, said she was determined to do something about it.
Three years later, Medley and her daughter, Nya McGlone, deliver free period products to more than 75 homes across Philadelphia each week. They also drop off products at libraries, recreation centers, and churches.
People who need products can also message Medley on Instagram, visit her office in Mount Airy or fill out an online form.
“I might tell you I’m hungry or don’t have something to wear,” Medley said. “But they are so afraid of telling someone they don’t have access to [pads or tampons] because periods are so taboo.”