Home Research The homeless period: A qualitative evidence synthesis
Card image cap

The homeless period: A qualitative evidence synthesis


Gabriella D. Orsini, Jennifer Tarabay, Polly L. Hardy-Johnson, Stephanie L. Barker, Frances T. Greenway


Women experiencing homelessness are marginalized not only through their housing status but also through their access and ability to manage their menstrual health. Currently, there are no existing published reviews exploring this topic.

This study aimed to begin closing that gap, by systematically reviewing the literature examining women’s experiences of menstruation whilst being homeless. In June 2020 (and updated in December 2022), we conducted comprehensive and systematic searches of four electronic databases: Medline, Web of Science, CINAHL, and PsychINFO, from which nine studies were found.

Three themes related to menstrual experiences were found: (1) challenges in the logistics of managing menstruation while homeless, (2) feelings of embarrassment, shame, and dignity linked to maintaining menstrual health, and (3) making do: how people experiencing homelessness manage challenges related to menstruation. We discuss barriers women face in getting necessary products and in accessing private, safe, and clean facilities to manage menstrual health.

The study found that women living with homelessness often abandon other basic needs in favor of managing menstruation (i.e. using unsuitable materials, stealing, etc.), which furthers their risk. The findings highlight the need for future research to investigate the experiences of women who are menstruating while being homeless and what support they would find helpful. Results show that it is high time for commissioners and policy-makers to address the provision of menstrual resources as a basic human right.

Read Article