Plenty of news outlets have reported on shoppers stockpiling toilet paper and hand sanitizer during the coronavirus outbreak, but a lesser known shortage is that of menstrual products. People with periods are buying pads and tampons in such large quantities that in some major cities, shelves are almost empty—you can find women posting photos on Twitter or Instagram.
Business Insider also reported in March that, for tampons specifically, “Amazon is out of stock of nearly every brand and variety, especially the most popular brands. Depending on the product, Amazon is promising to deliver as soon as anywhere from 4 to 5 days from now to several weeks.”
There are a few things to note here, the first one being: Help a girl out, and please do not stockpile period goods. According to the CEO of Aunt Flow, an organization that sells menstrual products to schools and offices, the average period needs, at minimum, 21 tampons. There are 36 tampons in a regular size box. If you weren’t planning on leaving your home for four months, you’d need three boxes, but the fact is, most of you are. The CDC recommends having a two-week supply of goods in your home. To keep tampons available to everyone, buy a new box or two, depending on your flow, only as you need them.
Other factors to consider are alternative products like DivaCups, which are available at pharmacies and big-box stores such as Walmart, or period underwear from brands like Thinx or Ruby. But it’s your body and your period, so whatever you’re most comfortable with is what matters. Affordability, of course, is also woven into your purchasing decisions. We can’t make those choices for you.
We can, however, offer some ways to help you find menstrual products if you need them. Here are a few ways to locate or order period goods and, if you’re all stocked up yourself, how you can support other bleeders in need.
How to find or order menstrual products
U by Kotex also uses a product locator, but the brand has the option to ship from stores with supplies in stock. So you select the type of product you want, and the site will add it to your Target, Walmart, or pharmacy cart. Eco-friendly brand O.B. Tampons uses a similar system.
Most organic and sustainable brands are available online. Lola, Sustain Natural Tampons, Honest, and Rael offer one-time sales as well as subscription services so you won’t have to worry about this “will they or won’t they” mess. Deliveries arrive every four or eight weeks, but products are more expensive than mainstream brands and have fewer applicators per package.
Cora, another organic brand, also has subscription services, but part of your purchase goes to period education and supplies to girls around the world. Maybe the additional spend is worth it just for that.
Most feminine hygiene brands are also available on Amazon, including Amazon’s own Solimo brand, but again, expect supplies and deliveries to ebb and flow.
Organizations that donate menstrual products
As founder of I Support the Girls, which distributes bras and period products to people who are homeless, Dana Marlowe told Global Citizen, “Periods don’t stop for pandemics. In times of disasters, let alone pandemics, it’s easy to overlook basic essentials for people around dignity.” Those of us who have the ability should consider giving back. These are a few organizations to reach out to if you want to help other people around the world get the care they need:
Local shelters, community centers, and churches