If you've been searching high and low for tampons and other period products, you're not alone. Supply chain issues have affected many goods, and tampons are just the latest product in short supply.
According to NPR and Axios, CVS, Target and Walgreens have all confirmed the limited tampon supply at each retailer. Suppliers haven't been able to fulfill the full orders placed by each company, resulting in sparsely stocked shelves and higher prices for tampons and other period products.
Just like with infant formula, the need for period products is biological—there is no substitute for these products for people who menstruate. Additionally, tampon prices are up 10% from a year ago, according to Bloomberg. Menstrual pads are 8% more expensive than they were last year.
"Getting raw and packed materials to the places we need to get them to continues to be costly and highly volatile," said Andre Schulten, Procter & Gamble's chief financial officer, on a recent earnings call, per CNN. "We understand it is frustrating for consumers when they can't find what they need," P& G said. "We can assure you this is a temporary situation."
I Support the Girls, an organization that provides menstrual products for people experiencing economic hardship, has seen a huge drop in product donations in recent months—meaning the shortage may have been going on for longer than most people realize.
Dana Marlowe, the founder of I Support the Girls, says the organization has received half as many tampons this year compared to the same time last year, and over 60% fewer donations compared to 2020.
"Our shelves our bare," Marlowe told NPR.
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Marlowe has met with many vulnerable women who don't have the resources to make multiple trips to multiple stores, so they've resorted to unsafe and unsanitary mechanisms. "They're using cardboard and duct tape, ripped-up sheets," she said.
CVS tells USA Today the store is trying to keep shelves stocked: "We're working with our suppliers to meet the current demand for feminine care products," spokesman Matt Blanchette said in a statement to the outlet. "In the event a local store experiences a temporary product shortage, our teams have a process in place to replenish supply."
Between this and the infant formula shortage, the public—specifically birthing and menstruating people—have been left abandoned by companies and the supply chain when it comes to being able to access basic resources. And no one can say for sure precisely when these dire situations will improve.