If men had periods the world would be a very different (and funnier) place

26 May 2015


If men had periods they would be considered a sign of virility, men would brag about them on Facebook, #imonmyperiod would probably trend regularly on twitter, and tampon adverts would be fronted by celebrities – that is according to research released today by international development charity WaterAid.

WaterAid launched their ‘If Men Had Periods’ campaign to raise awareness of the 1.25 billion women around the world who do not have access to a toilet during their periods. They are calling on people to sign their ‘Make it Happen’ petition to help get women the dignity they deserve.

WaterAid asked 2000 people how they thought the world would differ if men had periods and their answers presented a very different world!

The research highlighted the extent of stigma that surrounds periods, even in the UK, with 70% of women agreeing that such stigma exists and 83% believing it should be overcome.  Half of respondents felt that governments, schools and health professionals should do more to combat period stigma (50%).

Eight out of ten respondents told WaterAid that the world of sport would change if men had periods (78%).  Nearly a third believe that sports commentators would openly discuss how player’s menstrual cycles would affect their performance (29%), one in ten think that trainers would try to coordinate their players menstrual cycles (11%) and a fifth that bookmakers would factor a player’s menstrual cycle into their odds (21%).

Respondents also believe that Manpax would launch a sports range tampon (50%), footballers would endorse chocolate flavoured energy drinks ‘for that time of the month’ (34%), and white sportswear would be banned (23%).

A third of interviewees believe that men would brag about their periods (28%) and that they would congratulate and slap each other on the back for overcoming another month’s gruelling battle against nature  (34%), while one in ten believe that celebratory ‘first period parties’ would be the norm.

A fifth think  religious ceremonies would exist to celebrate a boys first period and welcome him into manhood (19%), and a third that boys would show off at school about ‘coming on’ for the first time (28%).

Interviewees also believe that men would update their Facebook statuses to tell everyone that they were on their period (17%), share period emoticons with their friends (20%) and that #imonmyperiod would trend on twitter (17%).

Barbara Frost, WaterAid’s Chief Executive Officer, said:

Every day 800 million women have their period, and yet most of us consider it an embarrassing and taboo subject. There are even elaborate euphemisms to avoid saying the word period. So we have had a bit of fun trying to imagine whether attitudes would be different if men had periods.

"Menstruation is an important women’s issue.  One in three women around the world do not have access to a toilet during their periods and having to find a safe place after dark is both undignified and risky.  Millions more suffer discrimination because of beliefs that they are ‘contaminated’ or ‘impure’.  Stigma about menstruation means women do not seek the help and information they need, while the lack of hygiene facilities in schools is a major reason for young girls dropping out of education when they reach puberty”

"Female representation in politics in many parts of the world is still low, so perhaps if men had periods this issue would get the attention that it deserves.  More needs to be done to ‘make it happen’ so that every women and girl has access to water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030”

Practically every culture in the world has its own set of myths about periods.  In Nigeria it is believed that a touch from a menstruating woman will cause milk to curdle, plants to die and a mirror to lose its brightness.  In Nepal, the belief that menstrual bleeding makes women ‘impure’ has led many to be banned from entering their own houses or interacting with family members while on their periods.  And right here at home many believe that swimming in the sea while on your period will get you eaten by sharks! 

Eight out of ten respondents believe there would be fewer myths and taboos about periods if men had periods (78%), and two thirds felt that periods would be better understood (65%), shrouded in less secrecy (63%) and more openly discussed (55%).

WaterAid’s research showed that the battle of the sexes is alive and well!  While 71% of women think that the way the media portrays periods would change if men had periods, 41% of men believe that nothing would change. 

More than a third of women believe that characters on TV would openly talk about periods (37%), a quarter that food brands would advertise themselves as PMT busters (26%), a third that tampons would be advertised as ‘boosting your performance’ (29%) and four out of ten that tampon adverts would be fronted by a celebrity (39%).

WaterAid has produced three short films that envisage what a football match, a male conversation at work and a tampon advert would look like ‘if men had periods’. Watch the films here:

If Men Had Periods...what would tampon adverts look like?

If Men Had Periods...what would a football match be like?

If Men Had Periods...what would the office be like?

WaterAid’s ‘If Men Had Periods’ campaign was launched to coincide with Menstrual Hygiene Day (Thursday 28 May).


Notes to Editors

  • WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation.  The international organisation works in 26 countries across Africa, Asia, Central America and the Pacific Region to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities.  Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 21 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 18 million people with sanitation.  For more information, visit, follow @WaterAidUK or @WaterAid or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or visit us on Facebook at
  • Around 1,400 children die every day from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation.

  • 748 million people are without safe water, or one in 10 in the world.

  • 2.5 billion people are without adequate sanitation, or 39% of the world's population.

For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Lucy Prioli on [email protected] or 0207 793 5081, or Hannah Wilkinson on [email protected]