Free period products on campus: pilot project relieves students and employees in their daily work and study routine

Since the beginning of April, the TU Ilmenau has been providing free period products on the university campus. For this purpose, dispensers have been installed at four central locations on campus. The REGELbar project, initiated by the University Health Management in cooperation with the Equal Opportunity Council, aims to provide uncomplicated relief for students and employees in their everyday lives in this way.

Jilian Cao-Riehmer
The initiators of the REGELbar project, Isabella Liedtke, coordinator of the University Health Management and Dr.-Ing. Katja Tonisch, equal opportunities officer at the TU Ilmenau, at a dispenser for period products.

Menstruation and the needs that come with it are still a taboo subject. Often, people only talk about their periods behind closed doors. With the REGELbar project, the TU Ilmenau would like to contribute to destigmatization and education around the topic on our campus and support students and employees. To this end, dispensers with free tampons and pads have been installed in the women's restrooms in the Humboldt Building, the refectory and the Röntgen Building on the city campus, as well as in the university library.

The four dispensers will initially be tested for a year in a pilot phase at the TU Ilmenau and will relieve the burden on students in particular. In a recent survey by the non-governmental organization Plan International, for example, 75 percent of female respondents under the age of 25 in Germany said they would take better care of themselves if period products were cheaper. Students and trainees in particular belong to the low-income population groups in this country. 80 percent of respondents in all age groups would like to see free period products in public buildings. Unlike in Scotland or New Zealand, however, there is no law in Germany that obliges public facilities to provide free period products and ensures funding. But there are already numerous local initiatives, for example at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena since 2021.

Financial and psychological relief

The uncomplicated availability of period products at TU Ilmenau not only relieves students and employees financially, but also psychologically, because periods cannot always be planned. Stress, hormonal balance or the chosen contraceptive method influence the length and intensity of the cycle. If those affected know that they can fall back on tampons and pads in the dispensers at any time, this reduces the stress in everyday work and study, as Dr. Katja Tonisch, Equal Opportunities Officer at TU Ilmenau, and Isabella Liedtke, Coordinator of University Health Management, explain:

We want to further improve working and studying conditions at TU Ilmenau. The dispensers give people quick access to tampons and pads when they need them. So you don't have to worry so much about the supply of period products anymore, which makes everyday life easier and stress is reduced. We hope that the dispensers will be used and that the REGELbar project will meet with a positive response

In order to further educate university members and the general public about menstruation, the project will be accompanied by communication. Twenty-four students from the Applied Media and Communication Studies program have already developed communication concepts for the project in the past winter semester as part of their seminar "Berufsfeldorientierung Public Relations" and, among other things, designed the printing on the dispensers and created content for the website, social media posts and for press releases. Elisabeth Wagner-Ofermann, a research assistant at the Group for Research in Public Relations and Communication of Technology, accompanied the students on the project and is impressed by their motivation:

It was great to see how the students got involved in the topic, because it simply affects them personally. They themselves are one of the project's core target groups - so she was able to contribute a lot of knowledge in terms of communication channels and the right messages.

By communicating about the project, she hopes to generate more understanding about menstruation as well:

We are in a very enlightened environment at the university - yet it is not enough to just hang the donors. Aspects and challenges around menstruation are still mostly kept quiet, yet it is a topic where many would like more knowledge and education. Together with the students, we have developed messages that aim to do just that.

Further information can be found on the project website:


Dr.-Ing. Katja Tonisch

Equal Opportunities Officer of the TU Ilmenau