US reeling from tampon shortage as menstrual product prices rise

The United States is reeling from a shortage of tampons, leaving users with fewer menstrual product options as supplies dwindle nationwide, consumers and advocates say.

This shortage is precarious, as the price of menstrual products has recently increased, the advocates also said.

“I can share that our organization distributed over 2 million menstrual care products in 2021 and access to products has steadily deteriorated over the past year,” Laurie Rovin, Acting CEO of The Period Project, an organization that provides menstrual products to those in need, said in an email. “We have difficulty ordering in bulk, and when we try to order retail, the limit is five boxes per order.”

In August 2021, when Rovin became the interim head of The Period Project, the organization’s cost per “rules pack” was $5.86. The pack, which includes tampons, pads, liners and wipes, now costs the organization $10 and is “rising rapidly,” Rovin said.

The shortage of tampons marks the second time in several months that many women and others with wombs have been unable to find another essential on store shelves: there has also been a shortage of formula.

Additionally, the tampon shortage is growing as many across the country prepare to limit access to abortion and a wave of reproductive health services, should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade. this summer as planned.

It is unclear how the shortage affects small retailers and independent retailers. A spokesperson for the National Community Pharmacists Association said several member pharmacies had not experienced supply issues or had problems with their distributors.

But Rovin isn’t the only defender to have seen his supplies dwindle.

“We’ve definitely seen a drop in the number of tampon donations over the past few months,” said Lysne Tait, executive director of the nonprofit Helping Women Period, which provides free menstrual products to those who need them. need. . “I’ve heard from people we distribute to that they have trouble finding specific brands that they used to use. Especially tampons without an applicator like ob”

Elise Joy, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Girls Helping Girls. Period., an organization that distributes menstrual products to community organizations such as food pantries, has also seen the shortage grow.

“For the first time, several organizations that do what I do are contacting me to see if I can help them cover their clients, and I’ve also had new agencies contact me asking for help because the resources they had dried up,” Joy said. “It’s not uncommon for me to bring in a new agency, and it’s not uncommon for other organizations that do what I do to contact me occasionally , but it is very consistent [now].

“Several times a week we get calls for help – which is more than normal.”

CVS and Walgreens, two major US drugstore chains, confirmed that some tampons were out of stock in some stores. Both said they were working with suppliers to ensure adequate stock.

“In recent weeks, there have been instances where suppliers have been unable to fulfill all orders placed,” a statement from CVS said. “If a local store is temporarily short of specific products, we are working to restock those items as quickly as possible.”

A statement from Walgreens said that “like other retailers, we are experiencing temporary shortages of brand-specific pads in certain geographies.”

The statement adds: “While we will continue to have product on shelves and online, it may only be in specific brands while we navigate the supply disruption.”

Edgewell, a major personal hygiene producer, said Covid-related staffing issues in late 2021 and early 2022 contributed to supply issues. But the company also said it was taking steps “to replenish inventory”.

“To meet the demand that has existed throughout the pandemic, we have continuously operated the production facility where our feminine care products, including Playtex and ob tampons and Carefree and Stayfree liners and pads, are manufactured,” Edgewell’s statement read. “The production, and therefore the stocks, of these products was [affected] due to major labor shortages caused by two separate Omicron surges.

“We have been operating our manufacturing facilities around the clock to replenish inventory and anticipate a return to normal levels in the coming weeks.”

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