Over a lifetime, the average American woman spends $18,000 on products to manage her period. For many young girls, college students, and adult women, the expense may mean a lot of stress.
Some skip school or work because they can’t buy products they need (12 million U.S. women ages 12 to 52 years live below the poverty line and many don't have access to period products).
The emotional trauma and economic loss is rarely recognized.
But that's changing with legislation that bans sales tax on tampons (it's in 24 states), and makes products free to girls while they are in school (that was true in 16 states and D.C. in 2022). In addition, new organizations are addressing the issue, including The Healing Hands Project, Helping Women Period, and The Period Project.
Especially interesting is the increasing availability of an inexpensive, safe, effective, eco-friendly alternative to pads and tampons: the menstrual cup.
The nonprofit CouldYou? (for example) uses donations to supply women in need with a medical-grade silicone cup that costs $10 and lasts for 10 years.
The cup's other advantage? It doesn’t create plastic waste. And according to the European Commission, discarded menstrual products are the fifth most common plastic waste product found in the ocean.
Every female deserves to be able to have her menstrual health be affordable and well-managed, and the cup — for those who care about the health of women and the planet — offers a viable solution.