If you’re a tampon user, you’ve probably noticed that it’s been harder to find your go-to menstrual product lately. Actually, it’s been since the spring of 2022 that they’ve started to get scarce. First, they came for the toilet paper, then the baby formula, and now, it’s tampons. We are officially in the “tampon shortage” era.
And then when you do happen to find the right brand and all the sizes you’ll need throughout your period, you’ve probably had to check the price twice. If it seems like you’re paying double what you used to pay, you’re right. Not that tampons were ever cheap, but they are super expensive nowadays.
So what’s all of this about? Where did all the tampons go? Why is there a tampon shortage, when will it be over, and how can you have a period without going broke?
Why is there a tampon shortage?
Let’s start with the big question: what caused this tampon shortage? You might be imagining friends, coworkers, and neighbors hoarding thousands of tampons–brands and sizes they’ve never even used. But before you start holding secret grudges, you should know that it’s linked to a bigger issue than hoarding.
Instead of blaming your neighbors, you could put some of the blame on COVID. No, really. Tampons are made from cotton and rayon, and a lot of applicators are plastic. These are three raw materials that are in high demand and have been since the pandemic hit. That’s because they are also used to make many medical products like masks.
Another piece of the puzzle is shipping delays. Stores put in the orders, but the stock doesn’t arrive fast enough. They can’t keep tampons on the shelves. This goes back to international shipping delays caused by strict COVID protocols, plus an increase in the cost of transporting goods.
And then you have tons of workers out sick from COVID, which causes a workforce shortage. All of this equals you not being able to find your preferred tampons easily, and when you do, they’re super expensive.
How long will the tampon shortage last?
If you want the short answer, no one really knows for sure, but it’s probably not going to be over this year.
Well, let’s put it this way–we’re heading into holiday season, and that means a huge strain on shipping. It’s also cold and flu (and COVID?) season, so that leaves the workforce shortage in the same place. Experts are not predicting any relief for the demand on the supply chain any time soon.
Yes, the major companies that produce tampons are working hard to increase production and keep stores stocked, but it’s probably not enough to reverse the shortage in the near future.
What can you do to survive the great tampon shortage?
It’s starting to get real–especially for nonprofits that give out menstrual products to those in need. People with periods are left wondering what they’re supposed to do if they can’t find tampons or can’t afford to menstruate. This is especially frustrating for anyone with a heavy period that goes through twice as many tampons every month.
Is there anything you can do about it, though?
You can’t really change the state of the supply chain, or instantly get rich, but you can think about switching to reusable period products. We’re talking about menstrual cups, menstrual discs, period underwear, and cloth pads and liners.
It’s the perfect time to give some of these products a try. For one thing, you’ll save a lot of money. And you also won’t have to track down your favorite brand and the right size tampon every month. Of course, switching might be a big thing when you’ve only used tampons your whole life, but you can start here with a few of our 101 guides:
If you’re already convinced and ready to give these products a try, check out all of the products we offer on Period.Shop. These guides will help you pick the right products for you: