ARIZONA, USA — Add tampons to the list of things in short supply in 2022. The problem is more than just a minor inconvenience, it's also a health concern.
Demetra Presley is the executive director for Go With The Flow, a non-profit that has been providing students and low-income women with menstrual products since 2017.
According to Nielseniq the average price for tampons has risen about 10% in the last year.
“One out of five students in the United States will either miss a portion of their school day or an entire school day because they don't have access to period products,” said Presley. “When folks don't have access to superior products, what we see happening is this jeopardizing of their physical and mental and emotional health with respect to their physical health."
Add the fact that Arizona is one of 27 states that taxes tampons as a luxury good (7.6-11.2%) and the gross price is even higher.
Dr. Leigh Lewis works at Arcadia Women’s Wellness. Dr. Lewis says extending the use of period products because of lack of access or affordability can have deadly consequences.
“Basically, in that situation, where a woman is using a tampon pad or menstrual cup for longer than is recommended on the packaging, they can really increase the risk for having vaginal infections, and in the worst-case scenario, toxic shock syndrome,” said Lewis. “The access to these products is necessary for women's health.”
In 2017, state representative Daniel Hernandez (D) co-sponsored a bill to make tampons, diapers, and baby formula tax-exempt by putting them in the “essential” goods category. Even though the democrat co-sponsored the bill with a Republican, it never made it to the floor for a vote.
“If we eliminated that sales tax, the net impact for Arizonans who are buying these products would be zero because we would have gotten rid of that tax a long time ago,” said Hernandez.
Here in Arizona, Presley says the tampon shortage isn’t severe in local stores. But if you opt for an online retailer, you will find in some cases prices have doubled.
Sanitary napkins and menstrual cups can also be used to control the flow.
But for some women, it’s the preferred option because it allows for more activity.
“It is a personal choice. And it really does become one of these issues of reproductive justice that women should be able to choose the product that they are most comfortable with,” said Dr. Lewis.
In a statement to NBC News, consumer goods manufacturer Procter & Gamble, the maker of both Tampax tampons and always pads, acknowledged that some consumers may currently be unable "to find what they need." They called the situation "temporary."
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