Every girl has a horrendous period story to share -- one that outshines the rest of the monthly mishaps and is classified under “Do Not Open” in our brain’s filing cabinet. For me, it was the first week of my sophomore year of high school. I finally realized of my leak as the fourth period bell rang (and I like to tell myself it was only visible for moments before I took note of it), causing me to drop my backpack as low as possible to conceal the small shred of dignity I had left in my stained, vibrantly printed pants. Abashedly stripping down to a soaked underwear in the girls’ bathroom as I desperately tried to wash out the monstrosity that had just graced my culottes, I was thankful for one thing: I had a pad.
For the majority of my time in “womanhood,” I took this luxury for granted. Unfortunately, many women do not share this privilege, especially those who are homeless and cannot afford to spend money on this necessity.
Photo: Josefin on Unsplash
Women typically have their periods from age 13 to age 51, totalling to about 456 periods in a lifetime lasting from three to seven days each. In the instance of using tampons, it is recommended to change a tampon every six hours. This equates to about four tampons per day and 20 tampons per cycle if the cycle lasts five days. At the current rate of 36 tampons for seven dollars, as available at Walgreens, this monthly occurrence turns into a lifetime cost of over 1,700 dollars.
Though this may not seem like much over the span of a lifetime of periods, it is almost impossible to achieve for homeless women, causing them to seek alternatives that do not provide them with the same coverage as tampons or pads. For example, many homeless women resort to using cheap napkins found in fast food restaurants or plastic bags to conceal their bleeding. However, these options are not absorbent and as a result unsanitary for women.
In addition, many women experience severe cramps while menstruating, especially while going through menopause. In order to deal with these cramps, medications such as Midol are recommended, adding to the preexisting costs of basic sanitary products. On average, women spend about 1,230 dollars on Midol during their lifetime at about 9 dollars a bottle of medication at Walgreens.
Periods are an unavoidable part of a woman’s life. Women do not voluntarily choose to undergo this monthly process and unarguably need certain products to help them uphold their hygiene and health during this time. Therefore, feminine sanitary products should be free at the bare minimum. No woman should have to worry about what they cannot control.
Zoya Wazir is a seventeen-year-old Muslim-American with a deep rooted passion for social activism and writing. She plans to double major in Journalism and Political Science in order to work toward achieving the change she wishes to see in the American media. In her fleeting free time, she also likes to create art, read celebrity autobiographies, and binge-watch Bollywood movies.