Here's What To Know About the Tampon Shortage

Yes, there is a tampon shortage and it's unclear how long it will last. And if you can find some, they're likely going to be more expensive.

Person holding pads and box of tampons
Photo: Getty

If you're struggling to find tampons, you're not alone. Social media has been abuzz in recent weeks with people lamenting about empty shelves that used to be full of period products.

"Is there a tampon shortage or something? I just went to [five] different Walgreens [and] the shelves are CLEARED," tweeted one person late last week.

"How is there a tampon shortage? [They're] almost $15 a box. Make some. We pay enough for them," wrote another.

Here's what we know.

Why is There a Tampon Shortage?

The answer to this question is a combination of the usual suspects that we've experienced over the last couple of years as various services and products, from bus drivers to infant formula, have been in short supply.

Tampon makers say that the shortage is due to:

  • Staffing issues in factories
  • Transportation challenges for raw materials needed to make tampons and to get products to retailers like CVS and Walgreens
  • Inflation raising the cost of materials used to make period products

How Long Will the Tampon Shortage Last?

It's unclear how long the issue will continue. Though the shortage has only recently made headlines, it's been going on for a while. Dana Marlowe, who founded I Support Girls to help people who menstruate get period products, told NPR that donations to the organizations are down 60% from 2020.

Proctor & Gamble owns the largest of the menstrual product market and makes Tampax. Officials insist the shortage is temporary and told NPR, "the Tampax team is producing tampons 24/7 to meet the increased demand."

When more tampons do hit the shelves, they'll likely be more expensive. According to NPR, P&G officials said they'll probably be raising prices on period products in mid-July in response to supply chain issues during an April earnings call.

Many period products are already more expensive. Bloomberg analyzed NielsenIQ data and found the price of tampons is up 10% from the same time last year.

What Can You Do Instead?

First, everyone who menstruates should have access to their preferred products. But if you can't find tampons and need to make a switch, here are some ideas:

  • Menstrual cups. These silicone cups can hold more fluid than a tampon.
  • Reusable pads. You've heard of cloth diapers, but there's also such thing as cloth pads. These environmentally-friendly options can be washed and reused.
  • Period underwear. These reusable panties are also eco-friendly and have a special layer that absorbs fluids.

If you're throwing your hands up in despair because none of these options appeal to you, you're not alone on that one, either. It's been a challenging couple of years for caregivers, particularly people with infants and young kids and who can still birth children.

"Such a great time to be alive if you have female reproductive organs—add the formula shortage, tampon shortage, and revoking abortion access to all the other disparities we face," wrote one doctor on Twitter.

"There's a formula shortage. A tampon shortage. A child care worker shortage. A camp counselor shortage. A lifeguard and swim lessons shortage. America to moms: Best of luck with all that!" tweeted a mom.

People need more than help—they need the products and services that feed their kids and keep them sanitary.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles