Sanitary napkins, menstrual Panadol, and chocolate — these are some of the essential items for any woman when her time of the month comes.
Most women experience more than 30 years of menstrual bleeding. Assuming that a woman experiences her first period at age 12 and undergoes menopause at age 45, this translates to 396 months of extra expenditure that comes with a biological function they cannot control.
In an effort to recognise and quantify some of the noble sacrifices women undergo, here’s an accounting on how much do periods cost women over the span of a lifetime.
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#1 Sanitary Pads/Tampons (Total cost: ~$5,544)
Popular brands of sanitary pads and tampons can be quite expensive. We’ve compiled some of these brands in the table below. For sanitary pads, Natracare is the costliest, at $1.07 per piece at the time of our research. Similarly, tampons from Tampax cost about $0.60 each.
Popular brands of sanitary pads and tampons can be quite expensive. We’ve compiled some of these brands in the table below. For sanitary pads, Natracare is one of the costliest, at $1.00 per piece (based on prices reflected on FairPrice online at the time of our research). Similarly, tampons from Tampax cost about $0.70 each (based on prices reflected on Watsons online).
A typical period lasts for 5 days. One would typically use 3 to 5 pads or tampons a day, depending on your flow. In a year, the average cost of pads or tampons use (assuming each piece is $0.70) is already $168. In a span of 33 years, a woman would have spent about $5,544.
The worst part is, you can’t choose not to buy pads or tampons if you want to function normally in daily life. These are a necessity — there are no two ways about it.
#2 Panty Liners (Total cost: ~$475.20)
Before or after your period, one might experience more discharge than usual. The way to combat this would be to use panty liners. Those who are prone to high discharges might also prefer wearing a panty liner every day.
Panty liners generally cost about $0.10 per piece. Some common brands are Kortex, Laurier, Carefree and Sofy.
Assuming in one month, one uses 2 panty liners a day for 6 days (3 days before your period and 3 days after), the total cost in a year will be $14.40. In 33 years, one would have spent $475.20.
#3 Pink Panadol (Nurofen) (Total Cost: ~$719.40)
A lifesaver when experiencing cramps, this small but powerful pill does not come cheap. A box of 12 typically costs $5.45.
Assuming you use one box every 3 months, in one year, it’ll set you back at $21.80. In 33 years, the cost is a hefty $719.40.
#4 Heat Packs (Total cost ~$66 to ~$646.80)
A heat pack is like a good friend to hug while you are lying in bed in pain, wondering what you did to deserve menstrual cramps.
The cost of a silicone heat pack typically ranges from $8 to $17 and should last for at least five years. Even assuming a modest cost of $10 per heat pack, in 33 years, it would cost a total of $66.
If you prefer disposable heat packs, they typically cost about $4.90 for a twin pack. Assuming that you use a twin pack every 3 months, it would cost $19.60 in a year. In 33 years, it would cost a total of $646.80.
#5 Others (Total cost: ~$11,837)
|Chocolates||Chocolate contains magnesium which can help alleviate cramps and increase energy.
$6 per month
33 years = $2,376
|Ginger tea & herbal soups||Ginger tea helps stimulate blood flow in the pelvic region and uterus. Some Chinese herbal soups help nourish your body, especially after blood loss.
$10 per month
33 years = $3,960
|Menstrual Leakproof underwear||It is a good habit to change your menstrual underwear every 6 months as they tend to become loose after some time.
$17 for 1 piece, 2 pieces a year
33 years = $1,112
|New bedsheets||If you are unable to wash off the stains on your bedsheets, it might be time to buy new ones.
$50 for 1 set, 1 set a year
33 years = $1,650
|Acne Medication||Experiencing breakouts before or during your period is normal as your body adapts to hormonal changes.
$10 for 1 tube, 1 tube a year
33 years = $330
|Shampoo for oily scalp||Heightened progesterone levels can result in excess sebum production and hence the level of oil production in your scalp.
$15 for 1 bottle, 4 bottles a year
33 years = $1,980
|Feminine wash||Feminine wash helps prevent itches in the vagina and any potential infections that could arise.
$13 for 1 bottle, 1 bottle a year
33 years = $429
|Total Cost: $11,837|
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#6 Optional: Higher-end Treatments (Total cost: ~$51,150)
|Traditional Chinese Medicine||You may consider visiting a traditional chinese physician to improve your body constitution or manage irregular menses.
$50 for consultation, $10 for herbal medication per day (one-time visit per month = $350)
|33 years = $11,550|
|Womb care massage||Womb care massage may help to alleviate menstrual cramp, improve circulation and vitality.
$100 per packaged session (one session per month = $1,200)
33 years = $39,600
|Total Cost: $51,150|
High Cost Of Necessary Goods
The total financial cost that a woman needs to pay because of her period over 33 years is a whopping $18,641.60 at minimum (excluding higher-end treatments).
If you were to experience menopause at 55, you would have to factor in another 10 years’ worth of costs. Other factors that could alter the total cost include pregnancy and visits to the doctor for medical conditions such as infections.
This cost also doesn’t account for inflation. As such, the actual cost women will be paying is likely to be much higher than the $18,641.70 figure.
If you do not want to spend so much money on pads or tampons, consider investing in a menstrual cup, which you can reuse for a few years before buying a new one. In the long run, it is a lot cheaper. According to medical sources, girls who have never had intercourse reportedly have more difficulty inserting menstrual cups. Maintenance is also another consideration, as you will have to sterilise the cup after each removal.
These financial costs aside, let’s not neglect the physical and mental struggle women undergo because of their menstruation, and the opportunity cost of time women incur due to decreased productivity at work, or missing work completely due to severe cramps.
With that in mind, we can all do our part to be more supportive and appreciative of the women in our lives!
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This article was first published on 27 June 2019 and updated with new information.
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