PERIOD poverty is at its worst in Brighton and Hove – with almost half of women and girls unable to afford basic sanitary protection at times.

A study of 2,000 women who menstruate revealed the top ten cities in the UK which are hardest hit by the issue of period poverty.

Across the UK, a quarter of the female population admits their menstruation is a challenging time because they now find it more difficult to afford period products compared to 12 months ago.

Of these, 90 per cent say the rising cost of living is taking its toll, while a fifth also provide for another family member in addition to themselves.

Brighton and Hove ranked top of cities struggling to afford sanitary protection, with 46 per cent of women and girls saying they are unable to afford basic sanitary protection at times.

The study was commissioned by global hygiene and health company Essity.

An Essity spokesman said: “This is a really tough time for many, and we recognise our responsibility to try and help where we can, to address the hardships so many are facing.

“As a result, we have just extended our commitment to donate 100,000 period products per month until the end of 2023 at least.

“Sanitary protection is a basic human requirement, and through charities like In Kind Direct there are ways women and girls can access the products they need.

“We just need to raise awareness of where to go, and how to get these items without feeling any sense of embarrassment or shame.”

To cope at their time of the month, those who can’t always afford their own protection have sourced free pads or tampons from work (36 per cent), the local hospital (30 per cent) or a GP (29 per cent).

While three in ten have chosen to duck out of dinner with friends or work, 27 per cent have missed a party and a quarter of younger girls have skipped school.

The top ten cities struggling to afford sanitary protection are:

Brighton and Hove – 46 per cent

Oxford – 40 per cent

Birmingham – 34 per cent

Cambridge 32 per cent

York – 32 per cent

Southampton – 29 per cent

Belfast – 29 per cent

London – 28 per cent

Manchester – 28 per cent

Plymouth – 26 per cent

Rosanne Gray, CEO of charity In Kind Direct, said: “We support thousands of UK charitable organisations with donated period products. Many of these organisations provide period products and period education workshops to women and girls in their local community.

“We hear stories of women making their own pads using cloth or loo roll and plastic bags taken from supermarkets, because they simply can’t afford these items.

“We don’t want women and girls to fall behind through not accessing the products they need each month, missing work and school. Period products power confidence and boost self-esteem, giving people the chance of a brighter future.

“The monthly donation of Bodyform products from Essity has never been more needed. We are so proud of our long-standing partnership as we look to support even more women and girls, enabling them to thrive.”