The Unforgiving Price Tag of Feminine Hygiene
In the United States, the costs for people with periods are high. The average person has around 450 periods in their lifetime andAmericans with periods spend an estimated $6,360 in their lifetime on menstrual products alone. Menstrual products including but not limited to pads, tampons, and menstrual-cups can be pricey, even though they are deemed essential health products. The excessive price of these products results in many unable to afford them.
A study conducted on a group of 200 low-income women found that a whopping 21% of them often had to go without buying menstrual products for a month. Many of these women also noted that they often had to choose whether they would buy other essential items like food or use their money on menstrual products.
Public access to menstrual products is hard to come buy. Besides purchasing them in-stores, restrooms are usually the only public places providing menstrual products. However, restrooms aren’t always stocked on these products, and most of them charge money for these products.
For the estimated 21% of schoolchildren living in poverty, access to menstrual products also poses many issues. Students who can't afford or access pads and tampons outside of school rely on schools to provide these resources.
Both children and adults who have a hard time accessing menstrual products are often left having to misuse the products they do have. Many will have to leave tampons inserted longer than recommended, posing an increased risk of toxic shock syndrome, cervical cancer, yeast infections and other health issues. Others may even use rolled up toilet paper or use one menstrual pad for multiple days. This increases the chance of bleeding through clothing, causing hygiene issues for the person and those around them.
The problems associated with the accessibility of menstrual products are not limited to health risks. Periods are already disruptive in the lives of everyone who has them; however, this disruption becomes magnified in low-income communities. The study mentioned earlier, found that out of 200 low income women, 36% had to miss work as a result of inadequate period hygiene. In students, a study conducted by Thinx found that 1 in 4 teens have missed classes due to no access to menstrual products.
The high cost of menstrual products paired with the low public accessibility has negatively impacted millions in the US. Low-income Americans are unable to afford menstrual products, resulting in a plethora of negative health effects and disruptions to daily life. Menstrual products are a necessity not a luxury, and there is immense work that needs to be done in the US to make products widely available.
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