At a time when gas is more expensive than ever and many Americans are struggling to put food on the table, now millions of women are concerned about a tampon shortage across the country.
Inflation has reached an all-time high and the average gas price as of today is $4.721 a gallon. There's a serious shortage of formula that has negatively affected countless mothers and babies. To add more stress to the pile, we're now seeing a tampon shortage around the country, and it's leaving many women feeling helpless and nervous. Some women have taken to social media to describe their experience of visiting several different stores to try to find tampons and when they resort to buying them online, they find that they're much more expensive than usual.
Why Is There a Tampon Shortage?
A few weeks ago, Instacart reported that sales for tampons increased 29% week over week because many women were becoming frantic that they wouldn't have enough tampons in stock at home. Searches for tampons also rose 13% on the app compared to the week prior. According to inflation trackers, the price of tampons has increased almost 10% over the last year.
As you probably expected, supply chain issues are a source of the tampon shortage. This has been an issue since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, but the effects are only starting to affect us in major ways. The most common materials in tampons are cotton, plastic, and rayon, and the price of all these raw materials has risen exponentially over the last year or two.
Part of the problem is that Russia and Ukraine are big exporters of fertilizer required to grow the very cotton that is used in many tampons. Additionally, the recent round of lockdowns in China made an impact on production; pair that with the staffing issues that many U.S. manufacturers are experiencing, and it's a recipe for shortages.
What Can We Do in Response to the Tampon Shortage?
This may be a blessing in disguise for many women who have never really given much thought to the tampons they use. They don't realize that the standard tampon can actually be problematic for their health. Most tampons are made with cotton that isn't organic, which means there are all sorts of chemicals that are sprayed on the cotton—and all of those are transferred to your bloodstream. If you can get your hands on organic cotton tampons, that's great, but they may be expensive at the moment.
A much better alternative is the menstrual cup, which is a silicone cup that holds in your menstrual blood just as comfortably as tampons do. It's reusable and can even last for a few years; you just have to properly clean it after each cycle. It takes some getting used to in terms of using it, but once you become accustomed to it, it's extremely easy to use. There's also much less health risk to using a menstrual cup, and you never have to worry about having extra ones on hand.
Other women find that period panties are a great alternative to using tampons, as they're washable and reusable and they don't pose any health risks. They may feel a little uncomfortable at first, but once you get used to them you may just love them!
There are lots of alternatives to using tampons, especially the kind of tampons that aren't made with the best kind of cotton. While you can't control the tampon shortage, you can certainly control the way you respond to it, and there's no need to stress when there are great options out there.