Medically reviewed by Sophia Yen, MD, MPH – Written by Pandia Health Editorial Team
Periods will Cost you.
It is not easy being a woman… Ever heard that before?
Well, here’s more…
Being a woman is certainly not cheap and having your period is expensive.
While most women would gladly skip their periods with the right birth control prescription, many women are too skeptical of the negative side-effects to try it out. More often than not, getting your period can be a signal that your body is functioning properly and with about half of the world’s population undergoing this phenomenon monthly, most people aren’t even aware of how much their periods will cost over a lifetime.
The average woman menstruates from age 13 until age 51 with her period lasting from three to seven days, equaling 456 periods. 456 periods over 38 years amounts to roughly 6.25 years or 2,280 days of your life spent with blood coming out.
Cost of Sanitary Products
The list is endless – tampons, menstrual cups, sanitary pads, panty liners, period panties. These are a few of the menstrual hygiene items most women buy every month to survive one menstrual cycle. This is an unavoidable cost with getting your period. Ranging in different sizes, functions, and price, these items are subject to tax (in most states but activists are working to get rid of the #tampontax) and most of them cannot be safely reused. Assuming the prices of these sanitary items stay fixed, which is a very fairy-tale assumption, this is what you’re looking at:
- Tampons. If one tampon is used every 6 hours and 4 tampons are used every day, we are looking at 20 tampons for every 5-day menstrual cycle totaling 9,120 tampons in your life. If one box costs $7, and there are 36 tampons per box, the cost for a lifetime equals $1,773.33. Don’t even get us started on the cost of the pricier Organic tampons…
- Panty liners have been estimated to average $443.33 per lifetime (5 panty liner per cycle, with each box of 36 costing $7).
- Ruined panties. Nearly all women leak during periods, sometimes causing permanent stains on underwear. If one ruined period panty costs $5, that equals $2,280 for 456 periods.
Cost of Period Care & Medications
Getting a period comes with all the unpleasant side effects ranging from mild cramps to crippling abdominal pain. A 2012 study in developing countries revealed that 25-50% of adult women and 75% of adolescents experience menstruation pain with 20% reporting severe dysmenorrhea or pain that have prevented them from participating in their usual activities. Some women have to be on bed rest loaded with pain relievers to get through one menstrual cycle. Menstruation also comes with common symptoms like mood swings, sore breasts, pimples, bloating, cramps, digestive issues, muscle pain, headaches and lack of concentration.
To combat these period symptoms, women have to resort to acne medication, painkillers, heating pads, hot water bottles, birth control, and several other contraceptives.
Research on birth control has shown that it can cause shorter, lighter, and more predictable periods. With birth control pills costing between $15 to $50 per month, this racks up to between $180 to $600 every year if you don’t have insurance or your insurance doesn’t cover it. Throw in the annual visit to the OB-GYN and you are looking at an additional $800. With an average of $25/pack, birth control pills can cost a woman up to $11,400 in a lifetime.
With Midol or any equivalent painkiller, before the cramps monster drags you by the abdomen, at 12 caplets by 456 periods, this stacks up to 5,472 caplets amounting to $1,229.83 for a lifetime (at $8.99 for every 40 caplets).
Cost of Humiliation
In March 2018, the period tracker app, Clue, carried out a survey showing that 18% of US women have missed school, work or an event because they were afraid of someone finding out they are menstruating. In developing countries, access to toilets and sanitary hygiene products add to this problem as many girls are forced to stay home from school during their periods. The cost of menstruating can be as grave as missing out on life (going out, church, work) and/or school. Just imagine the monthly experience of shame and stigma in less privileged areas all over the world.
While humiliation might be immeasurable, the cost of girls and women growing up having low-self esteem from being mocked for a normal biological function that keeps the earth populated is inestimable.
Cost of Productivity
Independent studies have shown that indigent girl students can miss up to 50 days of school every year because they cannot afford sanitary items. Reports have shown that 10% of women are unable to carry out their usual activities for one to three days every month. On average, women have to carry on feeling fatigued, crampy, and irritable during their period – including the occasional day off work to deal with period pain.
Just imagine half of the working population taking at least one day every month to deal with period pain. How much better would the world be if “half the sky” weren’t taken out of commission for 1-5 days a month?
Cost of Laundry
Periods come with an increased cost of laundry from stains and leaks. The only solution that has been proffered to deal with this resultant cost is changing your tampons/sanitary products more frequently (which is already a costly expense). Having to change sheets and wash your soiled clothes monthly can rack up your bills.
This extra money might not seem like much in the present, but an extra $5 for laundry every month for 456 periods could total up to $2,280 in a lifetime spent on washing soiled clothes from periods.
Cost of Period Complications
- With periods comes disorders like endometriosis (a condition where the lining of the womb begins to grow outside the womb) which results in extremely heavy periods. This complication can ramp up your period cost by about $2,801 every year on medical care alone. This is not inclusive of lost productivity and wages which could total up to $1,023 every year.
- Cancer – Endometrial and Ovarian
- Periods may not only put a hole into your pocket but also menstruation has been found to take a toll on the health of some women. Health issues like endometrial cancer (the growth of abnormal cells that comprise the uterine tissue) can develop simply because the more periods you have, the greater risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer you have. Women who began menstruating before age 12 have a higher risk of developing endometrial cancer. The only way to decrease your risk of ovarian cancer (except for taking our your ovaries!) is going on birth control pills. This is because the pills turn off your ovaries and give them a rest from popping out eggs every month.
Cost of Period Cravings
Let’s not forget that sometimes, getting your period turns you into a ravenous beast consuming everything your heart desires. While these might seem frivolous, comfort food can help your sanity during your periods. Nothing like chocolate, sweets, candy, ice cream or anything else to make you feel happy while menstruating. If a woman buys just one chocolate bar ($2) around the time of her period with 456 periods in a lifetime, that amounts to $912. Companies have created period care packages that cater to the needs of women to help deal with period stress/cravings.
Imagine a life where you did not have to remember how many hours ago you wore your sanitary pad/tampon or trying to calculate if your period will clash with that important speech you had to give next week. Imagine a life where you never had to worry about what to wear on what day simply because your period might be out to ruin your life this month. Imagine a life where you could swim when you want, play as you want, and sleep as you want 365 days a year, for the rest of your life.
Imagine a world without periods.
If you ever consider how much your period is costing you, here is the simple math…
Having a period = $
Not having a period = INVALUABLE
If you want to learn about how you can skip your periods with #PeriodsOptional go to www.pandiahealth.com/periodsoptional.
Disclaimer:The views expressed in this article intend to inform and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Pandia Health, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.