The Period Problem


Today we have to worry about being a good mom, wife, sister, and daughter. Throw in the need to conform to mainstream and social media on how to meet societal expectations while doing the vast majority of the household and unpaid work with a smile. Let’s face it, we are tired and exhausted, yet there is still something else we all must do every month. We have to manage our period, and if we have daughters eventually their periods. But why does managing menstruation even matter? Read further to understand the impact of single-use period products and a few solutions to the period problem.

Mainstream media has made talk about periods a faux pas and that is why we feel it is gross and we don’t talk about it. There is a global period problem and we have to start talking about menstruation and periods to fix it. More than half of the world’s population has or will experience menstruation. The average American woman menstruates for 40 years!!! You heard that right ladies, 40 years! And all the menstruation products are wreaking havoc on us, our daily lives, and the environment.

The Environment

We are all aware of single-use plastics and the effects they are having on the environment. What you may, or may not, know is that single-use menstruation products such as pads and tampons contain 90% plastic. In the US, women dispose of 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons each year. All that plastic ends up in our landfills and oceans to stay with us for many years to come. I naively thought that flushable tampons were somewhat better —that they would breakdown in the sewer system. Boy was I wrong. Tampons contain plastic strings and plastic in the core to absorb more fluid. When sewer systems clog or overflow those products end up in the ocean. The sewer systems across America were designed for urine and feces, not flushable tampons (or wipes), which tend to stay in those systems for many years.

Our Bodies

Every woman of a certain age is aware of toxic shock syndrome and its potentially fatal effects on menstruating women that use tampons. Specifically, if a tampon is not changed it can cause an overgrowth of bacteria, and lead to toxic shock syndrome. This adds to the mental burden of women because we also have to remember to change our tampons, or you could become very ill.

Our Bottom Line

Periods are expensive. Or at least they can be if you are purchasing single-use period products. Let’s do a little math. (I know, I know, I try not to do math in public either). Here we go.

50 tampons/pads for $9 (on Amazon). If you use 5 a day for 5 days that is 25 pads or tampons per period. We menstruate every 28 days (give or take based on your body). $4.50 per period*13 periods a year= $60 per year. That’s if you don’t forget your product and have to pay a high dollar at a pharmacy, or if you use organic or specialty products. When I was using single-use products, I probably spent over $100 on pads and tampons per year, because I have a heavy flow and often had to double up.

Our Convenience

Single-use period product companies want us to believe their products are convenient. They have cute plastic wrappers and fit nicely in your purse or backup. See any pad or tampon commercial. But what if you run out, or forget to stock your purse or backpack? You’re stuck. Asking kind women in the bathroom if they have one you can borrow, or running to the closest pharmacy or grocery store.

The Solution

Reusable period products. There are several reusable period products on the market today, including menstrual cups, period panties, and reusable pads.

I use a menstrual cup. It is made a surgical grade silicone, that is safe for my body and the environment. It cost about $13 and can be used for years.  Here is one I like.

The main reason I switched to the cup was because I have a very heavy flow. Even super plus tampons could not last more than an hour. So, I was using pads and tampons together to ensure no leakage. The cup lasts up to 6 hours without leaking. With the cup, I don’t have to carry around pads and tampons everywhere I go. I just use the restroom, with clean hands, remove the cup, empty it in the toilet, wipe down the cup with toilet paper, and reinsert. That keeps my product with me at all times.

Do you use a reusable period product? Please share your experience with DC Area Moms! Why did you switch and which product do you prefer?

If you haven’t made the switch, but are considering it, feel free to ask questions below. I would love to hear from women about what is important in a period product.

For more ideas on reducing single-use plastics in general, check out Living Plastic Free: What to do Moving Forward.

This article does contain Amazon Affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through these links, it won’t change your price and a teeny tiny portion would go to support our site and we would be so grateful! 


  1. Cups are great, wish I would have found out about them years ago. Mine was $30, fits just ok. They are a bit cost prohibitive, so hard to keep trying till the correct fit is found.

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