Some tampon manufacturers have supply chain problems, so many products may be more difficult to find on store shelves.
Why it matters
Tampons are an essential product for millions of people.
What will be next
Companies say they are working hard to increase availability. In the meantime, there are alternatives to tampons and pads that you should know about.
Have you had a problem finding your favorite brand of tampons lately? You are not alone. The latest lack of basic care, which mainly affects women (the second is) affects approximately 34 million people in the United States who use tampons. Tampons are products that are regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration and cannot be easily manufactured, so their supply is prone to manufacturing or material problems.
However, scarcity can also be sensitive to another element of product scarcity: panic shopping, or what Instacart, a delivery service that employs someone else to shop for you, called “inventory behavior.” Tampon sales increased 29% compared to last week, Instacart said in a statement to CNET on Tuesday.
And shoppers trying to meet these requirements have dropped the rate found to 67%, the lowest tampon rate since April 2020 at the very beginning of a US pandemic effort.
Estimates of how popular tampons are compared to other menstrual products vary, but up to 70% of menstruating people in the United States use tampons by one. If you are menstruating, you know better than anyone what products work for you, and you are likely to have a favorite brand. Here is what we know about what companies say about the lack of tampons, what different types of menstrual care products (e.g.) exist and others.
How are tampons regulated?
Tampons are regulated as medical devices by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and tampons that are cleaned are usually made of cotton, rayon, or both. Simply put, high standards are set for the production of tampons and their materials because people use them internally every month for about a week.
Why can’t people use pads?
In addition to the possibility that some brands of pads may now be more difficult to access, many people need to use tampons when swimming or exercising, for example. Others may feel uncomfortable.
Some people choose to use pads and not tampons. The pads may be the preferred choice for people with very heavy periods (sometimes in addition to the tampon) and others who have difficulty inserting the tampon. Whatever their reason, people choose and know the menstrual products that best suit their body and their lifestyle. (Read more about alternatives to tampons and pads.)
Why is there a shortage of tampons? Which brands are affected?
Procter & Gamble said in an April profit report that obtaining and transporting the materials needed for tampons was “costly and highly volatile,” according to many media reports. According to a Bloomberg report, tampon prices rose by almost 10% in one year and the price of pads rose by more than 8%.
“We can assure you that this is a temporary condition and that the Tampax team produces tampons 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to meet the increased demand for our products,” P&G told CNET. “We are working with our retail partners to maximize availability, which has increased significantly over the last few months.”
A spokesman for Kimberly-Clark, which produces the popular U by Kotex brand, said the company was not short of products or supplies.
“We are working closely with our retail partners to keep the shelves stocked,” they said, adding that the company is well on its way to donating more than 6 million period products to Alliance for Period Supplies, a non-profit organization that distributes period products to those who cannot allow.
Edgewell manufactures Playtex and OB tampons as well as Stayfree and Carefree pads. A company spokesman said in a statement that labor problems were being causedin two different countries – the first at a U.S. manufacturing plant in late 2021 and the second in early 2022, which affected a Canadian supplier – affected inventories.
“We operate our production facilities around the clock to replenish inventories and expect a return to normal levels in the coming weeks,” the spokesman said.
Smaller menstrual care companies may also be affected as customers begin to turn to newer tampon brands while their regular brand is sold out. A spokeswoman for Cora, which produces tampons in addition to menstrual cups, period underwear and other menstrual care products, said that while the company’s products are still in stock, it has seen a “significant increase in tampon demand” and shares may be issued in the coming months. .
Which stores have little inventory?
Whether you manage to get a preferred brand of tampons (or any tampon that will suffice) may depend on where you live and which store you visit often.
A CVS spokesman told CNET that in recent weeks there had been cases where tampon suppliers had not been able to complete orders completely. “If specific products are temporarily missing from the local store, we are working to replenish these items as soon as possible,” she said.
A spokesman for Walgreens said that “like other retailers, we are experiencing certain temporary brand-specific shortcomings in certain geographical areas.”
Instacart Trends Expert Laurentia Romaniuk said in a statement that the company was beginning to see “tampon turbulence” in response to the lack.
“To help women find tampons in stock, they can use Instacart’s universal search function and enter ‘tampons’ in the in-app search box to quickly search all stores in their area,” said Romaniuk. “When customers click on a specific store, they’ll see more detailed information about the stock of tampons in that store, so they can choose a store based on the latest availability.”
A CNET spokesman told Walmart that the retail giant was “not in short supply” and did not have menstrual products, including tampons, in stock.
Can you use expired swabs?
Tampons usually have a shelf life of about five years and should not be used after the expiry date. While many people who are menstruating would probably use one, they are created to get into your body and stay there for a while, and if you go against their intended use, you may be exposed to harmful infections such as toxic shock syndrome.
As Tampax states on its website: “Obviously, after five years, tampons do not spoil immediately, but bacteria and small mold particles can find their way into your tampons after they expire.”
And what about tampon alternatives?
One of your options is to temporarily switch to a disposable menstrual pad. At present, there does not seem to be a major interruption in the supply of sanitary napkins, but due to the lack of tampons, all types of period products are less in stock and harder to find.
If you can’t find tampons or pads, or are just interested in exchanging, here are some alternatives to consider.
Period linen is a sustainable and ultimately cost-effective alternative to tampons and pads. Starting with period underwear can be a bit more expensive than buying a box of tampons, if you buy a pair of pairs to get through your period (good period underwear starts at around $ 14), you will save money in the long run. .
There are a number of brands to choose from and they are made to suit people of all sizes with all types of flow. Here is afor your body, flow and budget.
Menstrual cups are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to disposable products. These cups (popular brands include Diva, Cora and Lunette) are reusable, usually rubber or silicone, seal around the cervix and trap menstrual blood from the uterus before it leaves your body. There is a learning curve on how to introduce them, but many people who try menstrual cups swear that they will never return. You can shop and find the best size menstrual cup for your body and strong, medium or light flow. (Note for IUD users: Suction menstrual cups can sometimes lead to IUD drop – out or displacement. If you have an IUD but want to try a menstrual cup, talk to your doctor about the most suitable cup and how to use it safely. )
Menstrual discs have a similar concept as cups and are disposable or reusable. They are also advertised as a period product that you can leave during sex, but they are not intended for contraception and do not prevent pregnancy.
While it’s not suitable for everyone, some people may want to try giving up any period product, especially at night or when you’re lounging around a house with a lighter current. Simply put, free bleeding is bleeding without the use of a tampon, pad, panty liner or other disposable product. People do this for a variety of reasons, and many decide to do the last day or two of menstruation, when they lose so little blood that it would be difficult to fill a tampon or pad. (While toxic shock syndrome is rare, using a tampon with a higher absorbency than you need can be a risk factor for developing TSS.) If you are concerned about spots, you can lay a towel or wear old and / or dark underwear.
Reusable tampons or pads
Cloth or reusable pads that attach to underwear are another option if you want to get rid of disposable products. Because tampons sit outside the body rather than inside, this is not a big problem with sterility.
The FDA discourages reusable swabs because they may carry an increased risk of fungal and bacterial infections and no reusable swabs have been approved for safety reasons. Generally speaking, it is good to sterilize (or buy already sterile) any product that you put in your vagina.
Watch “less popular” tampon brands
There are a few names that dominate drugstore shelves, but you can get tampons elsewhere from newer, smaller, or organic companies that sell mostly online. But keep in mind that overall demand (and possible panic buying) may begin to affect the stocks of these companies as well.
August sells online sustainable menstrual care products, including tampons. While the price for a box of tampons is probably higher than you’d find on a drugstore shelf, August says her tampons are 100% organic and fully biodegradable.
Tampons and period products are also organic and available online, although the company has noted that a large increase in demand for them may affect supply in the coming months. (L, another manufacturer of organic tampons, is sold out, according to his website.)
Updated, June 21: Adds comments from Instacart.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as medical or medical advice. Always consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider for any questions regarding your medical condition or health goals.