Feminine care products are required, but they are NOT cheap! During the year, a woman can spend roughly $83.64on pads and tampons, and that is if they are buying cheap and being conservative in the number they use during the course of their cycle. With women starting at an average age of 12 and ending at an average age of 51, the “average” woman spends roughly $3,261.96 over the course of her life. All because we HAVE TO!
There are different routes that women can take to save on these essential products, but I want to start with mentioning the low income, below poverty level families. There are no programs to help with feminine care, sure, you may find a church or other local charity that is willing to help, but I have never seen it be made public knowledge that pads and tampons are available, so you would have to ask for them. Many women are embarrassed to ask for food, let alone something as intimate as tampons! I do feel that we should not be embarrassed by normal bodily functions, and education needs to be provided so young girls will know that it is normal and there is nothing to be embarrassed about, but until that happens, we need to help them without having them feel uncomfortable.
I never spoke about my period with my mother….NEVER, well not until a couple years ago, after I’ve had a few kids. No, I am not kidding, and it’s sad. I never got the “growing up” talk and I want different for my girls. I talk to them about their bodies and I explain how things work. One time, my oldest walked in while I was changing a pad and FREAKED OUT thinking I was dying. She was about 3 at the time, and I explained to her that it was normal, and I was fine. I told her that my pad worked like a bandaid to keep me clean and we haven’t stopped talking since. I told myself early on that I wanted differently from my girls and I wouldn’t hide info from them, and I sure as heck wouldn’t make them use a towel like I had to a few times. I was a teen and my mother was a single mom with 2 full time jobs, but she was already past the point in her life where she needed pads or tampons, so she would forget that I needed them too, and it wasn’t pretty. Of course, I felt embarrassed to ask her to get them, so I used a towel. I’d skip school occasionally, just so I didn’t have to deal with the HORROR of having to change my pad at school.
I first used a tampon in 8th grade, during gym class. It was my second time of having my period and I was very unprepared, and a tampon was all the gym teacher had. I got no instructions on how to use it and was clueless that the applicator had to be removed for the tampon to work. It hurt SO BAD! I didn’t use a tampon for another 6 years after that. This is not something I want for my girls, so even though none of them have reached puberty yet, the oldest two know how to use a tampon. Obviously, they haven’t USED them, but they have played with them in their hands to get a feel for them and figure out how to work them. My hope is that it makes them more comfortable when the time comes for them to decide which feminine care products they want to use.
My personal preference is the Lunette Menstrual cup, followed by cloth pads. Both of these are better for the environment, and your body, since tampons and pads are filled with chemicals and take time to break down in landfills. Both menstrual cups and cloth pads can also help shorten and lighten your flow, again, since your body isn’t reacting to the chemicals in disposable products. However, I know these are not things that every woman wants to use, but the option is out there. With the price of a single cloth pad averaging around $6, the upfront cost may push some women away. If you buy 1 cloth pad, it is almost the same price as a bag of disposables, but will last much longer. Even replacing 1 disposable pad per day, with a cloth pad will save you 93 pads over a lifetime, which is about 3 bags of disposables. If you buy 1 pad per month, as money allows, you will have a full stash in just 1 year and you can ditch the disposables, saving $3,178.32 over your lifetime. All with a total investment of around $72. Now think about a family who also has 3 girls to provide for (such as my own) on top of my own needs. Disposable pads would cost our family $13,047.84, but if I invested in cloth pads for each of my girls as well as myself, I would only spend about $288 total! Want to save even more? Try the Diva Menstrual Cup, which is under $30 and if taken care of, will last a lifetime!
I want my girls to have options, I want them to be able to decide for themselves which items they want to use, but in order to do that, I need to keep a nice supply of the disposables on hand as well. I don’t want them to ever run out and have to feel embarrassed to ask for some, I just want them accessible to them at all times. I grab different brands and styles when they are on sale, and I refuse to pay more than $1 per name brand box, or 25¢ for store brand. I currently have a two year supply of tampons and a 4 year supply of pads, and I don’t intend to stop stockpiling. They don’t expire, and I have been able to help out friends of mine who didn’t have any. It’s a good feeling being prepared, and I feel that every woman should be able to feel that way.
I was invited onto HuffPost Live to talk about the “Free The Tampons” movement, and wanted to share the video with you all.