It’s not easy to quantify the true cost of a period. According to a 2019 survey commissioned by menstrual cup brand Intimina, the price of period products is £10.40 on average per month, or nearly £5,000 over a lifetime. Another, from the year before, estimated it might be closer to £18,000 when factoring in costs of items such as pain relief and comforts like chocolate. There’s also the hours or days lost to painful cramps and disruptive hormones. In 2022, as households feel the cost of living squeeze, the price of a period is expansive, expensive – and rising.
So much so that non-profit Bloody Good Period, which provides sanitary products for those who can’t afford them, recently reported that the first quarter of this year saw a 78 per cent rise in demand for its services. It attributes this to the economic and social impact of the pandemic, and more recently, the excruciating rise in the cost of living. Inflation has sky-rocketed to a record 9 per cent, and reports show that almost a quarter of UK residents are struggling to pay their usual household bills, compared to one year ago.
“There’s lots of discussion around people having to make choices between food and other essentials – but period products are also an essential and when you don’t have them, it leads to really difficult experiences,” says Rachel Grocott, incoming CEO of Bloody Good Period.
Experiences like those of Sophie, whose name has been changed, and who had to resort to wearing reusable nappy pad inserts to cope with having endometriosis – a condition that can cause very heavy periods – a few years back. Period products were simply too expensive for her. “No one should have to make choices like that in 2022,” Grocott says.
While period poverty is not new in the UK, the cost of living crisis has exacerbated the problem. “The thing is, you can’t budget your way out of a period,” Grocott says. But we can all take action. Here’s how.