Why Period Products Should Be Free?

Updated on December 15, 2023

If you saw the news, Scotland recently became the first country to offer tampons and pads for free!

As we work towards building more inclusive workplaces, schools, and public spaces more people are looking to answer: “why period products should be free?”

5 Reasons Why Feminine Products Should Be Free

Gender equality is an essential part of a healthy, equitable workplace, and people who menstruate deserve access to the tools they need to get through the workday with dignity.

So yes, sanitary products (like pads and tampons) should be free – and we’re going to share five compelling reasons why!

1. Tampons and pads are a basic necessity

As any menstruator knows, managing your period isn’t a choice, it’s a nearly lifelong reality that can be difficult, annoying, and frustrating to navigate – especially in public spaces.

Menstruation is a reproductive cycle that begins around puberty and typically ends around menopause. For anyone who hasn’t experienced a period, let me paint you a picture.

Imagine you get into a bloody accident for approximately three to seven days every few weeks. You’ll be fine, but you have to live as if nothing is wrong while you recover.

You spend at least $20 at the drugstore each month stocking up on Advil, tampons, and pads so you can go about your life while experiencing cramps, brain fog, irritation and general discomfort. And this cost adds up over time- menstruators can spend up to $6,000 on menstrual supplies in their lifetime.

Now imagine that you’re at work and you get your period – only you’re unprepared. Maybe you thought it would happen later that week, or you simply forgot to slip a tampon in your bag before you headed out the door. You don’t have any of your supplies, and wadding up one ply toilet paper doesn’t do much against the one and a half shot glasses of blood that you will inevitably lose this cycle.

Suddenly, your period becomes a predicament that you will have to figure out on top of your regular workload. Maybe you can sprint to the nearest store on your lunch hour, or ask a co-worker for a favour, but regardless – what could have been solved in five seconds by discreetly grabbing a free period product from the stall becomes a distracting problem that can cause anxiety – and cost you valuable work time.

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The reality of menstruating is that it’s a normal bodily function, just like going to the bathroom – so why is toilet paper free in communal spaces while pads and tampons are often locked up in coin operated metal boxes, if they’re even offered at all?

Pads and tampons are essential items, not luxuries, and that’s just one of the many reasons that they should be free.

2. Support gender equality in the workplace

Offering free period products like pads and tampons eases the lives of menstruators and improves the overall health and well-being of the workplace, school or communal facility by supporting gender inclusivity.

Creating gender inclusive washrooms means making these necessary spaces equally safe, clean, and accessible to everyone.

The fact that toilet paper is free in most public spaces, while other essential items like pads and tampons aren’t, is a sign of gender inequality and discrimination in the workplace.

For the 1.8 billion people who have a period each month, period products are a necessity, like toilet paper or fresh drinking water.

So, not having access to these essential products is a form of discrimination against menstruators. It may not be intentional, but it does have a negative impact – and it sends a message that your workplace is not equitable.

Stocking your bathrooms with sanitary napkin dispensers, tampons and other period products means that your workplace washroom is accessible to all.

3. Help to end period poverty

Not only does installing sanitary napkin dispensers and supplying free period products in your bathroom foster a healthy work environment, it also helps to tackle a greater issue: period poverty.

The cost of having your period is expensive. It takes a toll physically, emotionally, socially and financially.

Period poverty refers to a lack of access to menstrual products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, handwashing facilities, or proper waste management. Period poverty can create mental, emotional, and physical issues for women, from feelings of anxiety and distress to physical challenges like health and safety issues.

Period poverty is a public health crisis. Approximately 500 million people around the world don’t have access to the period products they need to manage their monthly menstrual cycles – and each day, roughly 300 million people are menstruating.

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Period poverty impacts low-income menstruators in particular, making it challenging for them to menstruate hygienically and with dignity. If period products aren’t available in public spaces, period poverty can mean that menstruators are forced to resort to unsanitary methods of managing their periods, like prolonging tampon use and using rags as pads.

Supplying free period products in the workplace, at school and in public spaces through a pad and tampon dispenser is instrumental to ending period poverty, ensuring that menstruators have access to the supplies they need to manage their periods with dignity.

4. Support menstrual hygiene

Citron Hygiene’s research shows that currently in North America, 1 in 4 women are struggling to afford pads and tampons due to inflation and interest rate increases.

In the UK, 1 in 5 women struggle to afford menstrual products – and according to Citron Hygiene’s research, 87% of women started their periods unexpectedly, when they were away from home.

A lack of free period products in public spaces can be unhygienic. Poor menstrual hygiene can lead to physical health problems, like reproductive and urinary infections, as well as mental health issues, like feelings of shame surrounding period poverty.

Menstrual blood can carry Hepatitis B, HIV and other blood borne pathogens – meaning that not only is access to free period products essential for combatting period poverty, but safe disposal of period products is crucial to a safe and healthy washroom environment. Plus, wearing tampons for extended periods of time (a method some menstruators might employ to try to extend their use) can lead to serious conditions like Toxic Shock Syndrome.

That’s why it’s so important to install sanitary napkin disposals in addition to providing free pads and tampons in your washroom. Disposing of Sanitary napkin help to reduce the risk of infection from unsanitary contact with menstrual hygiene products by safely and securely storing them. Plus, touch-free menstrual waste disposal units also prevent pads and tampons from being flushed down the toilet.

Citron Hygiene’s feminine hygiene disposal units are stylish and effective, adding to the aesthetics and functionality of your space.

5. Legislation across the world is changing, requiring businesses to provide free sanitary products to any menstruator who needs them

While period poverty still plagues millions of menstruators around the world, governments are catching up to the demand for more equitable and hygienic public spaces.

Scotland became the first country to make period products free for all. Through the Period Products Act, anyone who needs period products can access them free of charge. This monumental step towards reversing period poverty in Scotland had a worldwide ripple effect – and countries like the United States aren’t too far behind.

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22 U.S. states require menstrual products to be free in certain public spaces – for example, California requires period products to be free and accessible in schools.

The Canadian government is making similar strides. Did you know that 34% of menstruators in Canada have to make budget sacrifices to afford the menstrual hygiene products that they need? Thankfully, the Minister of Labor recently implemented the Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Canada Labour Code (Menstrual Products), which mandates access to free menstrual products in federal workplaces in Canada, and on this move The Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth said:

Menstrual products are a basic need for people who menstruate. All barriers to accessing them need to be broken down, and support at both the individual and institutional levels need to be improved for women, girls, trans and non-binary people who menstruate. This initiative is a step in the right direction to reach menstrual equity and advance gender equality in the workplace.”

– The Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth

And it’s only a matter of time before workplaces will be required to meet these standards – so why not blaze the trail.

Conclusion: It’s time to provide free pads and tampons

The moral of the story? Ending period poverty – and providing menstruators with the products and disposal methods they require to navigate their periods with dignity – is long overdue. 

Citron Hygiene’s Aunt Flow Menstrual Hygiene Product Dispenser is the ultimate solution.

This commercial dispenser ensures that menstrual products are available to menstruators who need them.

You can read more about how to elevate your washroom experience on our website!

Find out how we can elevate your washroom experience today.