An estimated 500 million people worldwide suffer from period poverty. Without the financial means to afford more traditional menstrual care products, free bleeding becomes less of a personal choice and more of a pure necessity.
An article by the American Medical Association says that a person who menstruates can expect to pay an average of about $1,800 over a lifetime for menstrual hygiene products such as tampons and pads. Their government relations officer Reilly Beeler clarified, “These products are not designated as essential, which means they are not covered by federal food stamp programs and other assistance programs … This leaves people with a choice between buying tampons or providing other necessities for their families”. It is certainly a choice that no one should have to make.
The lack of medical classification was of particular concern during the COVID-19 pandemic, when menstrual hygiene products would be exempt from taxes if they were categorized as essential during a public health crisis. This, combined with the extraordinary loss of work at the time, made the pandemic even more difficult as an increasing number of menstruators found themselves in poverty. More recently, rising inflation has made menstrual care more expensive than ever before, with tampon prices rising by 10% in 2022.