As if getting your period every month wasn’t annoying enough – it’s also costing us a fortune.
People who have periods have to spend hundreds, or even thousands, on sanitary products over the course of their lives – and it isn’t really an outgoing that can be avoided.
But switching from disposable to reusable period products could be great news for your bank balance.
According to the Women’s Environmental Network, the average person who has regular periods is thought to use more than 11,000 disposable menstrual products in a lifetime.
This is likely a conservative estimate, given that some people will have periods that last much longer, or have a heavier flow and therefore need to use more products.
For example, if you change your pad or tampon every six hours, have regular monthly periods that last seven days at a time, and get your period from age 12 to age 42, you will use 13,440 products.
Basically, these numbers will always vary person-to-person, but here are some calculations based on WEN’s 11,000 figure.
If we calculate using tampons on the cheaper end of the scale (Tesco’s Free Spirit non-applicator 24-pack which costs 95p, so comes in at 4p per item), you’re looking at £440 over the course of your life.
More expensive ones (for example the Always Pearl 18-pack which come in at 16p per item), you’re spending around £1,760 – and that’s if you only use 11,000 products.
Pads can be more expensive, too. If you add panty-liners to your shopping basket you’re looking at another £400 or more on top of your tampon spend.
Or, if you solely use pads, you can expect to spend roughly £2,090 on 11,000 of them (based on Always Platinum with wings 10-pack from Tesco).
All of this is before you factor in the cost of tampons or pads you hadn’t planned on buying – for example from a machine – or costs incurred by people who aren’t able to get to a major supermarket and therefore may pay more.
That’s not to mention the hundreds in repairs or plumbing costs you could end up paying for if you’re flushing tampons (which you should never do, FYI).
Are menstrual cups the answer?
Not everyone can use menstrual cups, but they are an option for people who are able to and want to save money in the long run. They also have the added benefit of reducing plastic waste.
It’s recommended that you replace your menstrual cup only every two years or so, although many people claim they can last longer as long as they’re sterilised correctly.
But, if we assume you’ll have periods for roughly 30 years, that means you shouldn’t need more than 20 menstrual cups over your lifetime.
How much you could save by switching from tampons to menstrual cups
Total savings per year (£)
A Hey Girls cup is available from £8.95 in a number of supermarkets (and for every box you buy the company also give a box away) although there are various different ones that cost more or less depending on what you’re looking for.
This would mean that you’re spending roughly £179 in a lifetime, compared to the bare minimum of £440 on cut-price tampons. That’s a £261 saving at the very least, or £1,891 if the alternative was buying 11,000 Always pads.
If you have longer or heavier periods, get periods earlier or later, or sometimes have to buy extras or more expensive sanitary items, the amount you’re likely to save by making the switch will grow.
Menstrual cups can be a daunting prospect, but thankfully there are plenty of guides out there that help you work out how to get to grips with them.
They’ve also been proven to be just as leak-proof as tampons, and have no increased risk of infections.
If they are something you’re able to use, then it’s a win-win situation for your bank balance, health, and the planet.
Don’t worry if not, though, as there are other reusable or eco-friendly items out there that can save you money in the long run. Check out our list here to see what’s right for you.
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