Spoiler: periods are pricy AF!
A recent experiment shed light on the “pink tax,” or the price discrepancy that comes with purchasing female-branded products that are essentially identical to male products. But how about the extra cost that comes with a biological function women cannot control?
Women’s monthly periods are costing them much more than the pain of menstrual cramps. Between tampons, pain relievers and heating pads to soothe the aches, the costs associated with that magical time of the month add up. Aunt Flo is one expensive lady.
Though the numbers may vary slightly for you due to local price changes, or your superhuman ability to avoid unwanted stains, having a period is a hefty cost that half the population will never have to pay — and this doesn’t even include the cost of the regular doctor’s exams to keep your birth control prescription up to date, and your reproductive health in check.
On average, a woman has her period from three to seven days and the average woman menstruates from age 13 until age 51. That means the average woman endures some 456 total periods over 38 years, or roughly 2,280 days with her period — 6.25 years of her life.
12 caplets x 456 periods = 5,472 caplets. At 40 caplets per container, that’s 136.8 Midol purchases x $8.99 = $1,229.83
There are other options, but 70 percent of women use tampons. You’re instructed to change your tampon every 4 to 8 hours, so we’ll use 6 hours as an average. A box containing 36 tampons costs $7 at Walgreens.
1 tampon every 6 hours = 4 tampons per day x 5 days of a period = 20 tampons per cycle x 456 periods = 9,120 tampons. At 36 tampons per box, that’s 253.3 boxes x $7 = $1,773.33
Some women prefer pads and some combine tampons with panty liners as a backup. For our purposes, we’ll say that women use an average of five liners per period. A box containing 36 panty liners costs $7 at Walgreens.
5 liners per cycle x 456 periods = 2,280 pads. At 36 pads per box, that’s 63.3 boxes x $7 = $443.33
New underwear due to stains
Leaking happens to nearly all women, usually causing permanent stains on your underwear. Women own an average of 34 pairs of underwear, and we’ll assume each woman bleeds through one pair of underwear per period. One pair of underwear is about $5 at Target.
1 $5 pair of underwear per period x 456 periods = $2,280
Chocolate or sugary treats for cravings during PMS
This one may not affect everyone, but for this round up, we’ll say that a woman buys one chocolate bar (or another kind of food she is craving) around the time of her period.
1 bar of chocolate per period x 456 periods x $2 per bar = $912
Acne medication for breakouts
Acne medication lasts for quite some time, so this Neutrogena spot cream, which costs $7.49 at Walgreens, would last an average of three years if only used during that time of the month.
38 years of periods divided by 3 years = 12.6 x $7.49 per tube = $94.87
Studies show that about 80 percent of women use oral contraception at some point in their lives. This monthly purchase adds up if it isn’t covered by health insurance — and 33 percent of women who are covered still pay some money out-of-pocket. Pills from Planned Parenthood cost anywhere from nothing to $50 per month, so for our graph, we set an average of $25.
$25 per month x 456 periods = $11,400
A heating pad costs about $20. We’re assuming a woman would use an average of two in her lifetime.
2 heating pads x $20 = $40