Busting Myths: Are Period Pants Really More Expensive? Let’s Crunch the Numbers

a woman on her period holding a heat pad to her tummy
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The conversation surrounding sustainable menstrual products has been growing louder over recent years, and period pants have emerged as a really popular choice. However, some people still hold the misconception that period pants are more expensive than traditional disposable menstrual products. In this article, I want to help to bust that myth and provide you with some cost comparisons.

Calculating the Cost of Disposable Products

To begin with, let’s first calculate the approximate annual cost of disposable menstrual products like pads or tampons in the UK.

  1. Average Annual Usage: On average, individuals use around 22 tampons or pads per cycle, with 12 cycles in a year.
  • 22 tampons/pads x 12 cycles = 264 tampons/pads per year
  1. Cost per Tampon/Pad: The cost of a pack of tampons or pads varies, but let’s assume an average cost of £3.50 per pack with 20 tampons/pads included
  2. Annual Cost: Now, we can calculate the annual cost:
  • £3.50 per pack x 14 packs = £49 per year (this will of course vary from person to person and this doesn’t factor in pain relief etc. see below)

Understanding the Cost of Period Pants

Now, let’s delve into the cost of period pants. Keep in mind that period pants are reusable, meaning you make a one-time investment that can last for several years.

  1. Initial Investment: The cost of a pair of period pants varies by brand and style, but let’s take an average price of £14 per pair as a starting point
  2. Number of Pairs Needed: To estimate how many pairs you might need, consider that a basics period pant from WUKA can last for several years with proper care. Let’s assume you’ll need 5 pairs for a 3-year period
  3. Total Initial Cost:
  • £14 per pair x 5 pairs = £70

Comparing Costs: Disposable vs. Period Pants

Now to compare the costs over a three-year period:

  • Disposable Products: £49 per year x 3 years = £147
  • Period Pants: Initial cost of £70 over 3 years

Ok so let’s be realistic, it’s not a huge difference BUT it is a saving if you choose reusable menstrual products such as period pants – your other options would be reusable pads, a menstrual cup or a menstrual disc. This £77 difference is only based on the very basic products that a menstruating person will need and prices do vary depending on brand/materials and so on. For example, the eco-disposable tampons work out at around £12 per pack which is considerably more than the costing I have used.

There are other things that could have also been calculated here:

  • Pain relief – the chemicals and perfumes in disposable products are thought to make a period heavier and more painful meaning someone using these is likely to spend more on pain relief
  • Hot water bottles, heat pads and so on – as above
  • New underwear – yep, a lot of people have to purchase new underwear due to leaks when they use disposable period products
  • Mood boosters – chocolate, magazines, wine, movies and so on are all reported to be purchased more often during your time of the month

In fact, previous calculations carried out by the company Vouchercodes who did include the above, claimed that as a result of all the expenses related to a period, the average lifetime of periods could cost a person a whopping £18,450 in total!! So even though I don’t have the means to carry out a full in-depth survey, you can clearly see that the cost of periods could well be much higher than I have calculated here.

Period Poverty

Taking all of this into account it is quite clear how costs can quickly add up and why period poverty is still a big issue even now in 2023. In fact, things are looking worse, with a new ActionAid poll revealing that 21% (more than one in five) people in the UK who menstruate are now struggling to afford period products – that’s up from 12% in just one year. Crazy! Nobody should be struggling when it comes to healthcare. With this in mind it really does show that if more was known about reusable period pants, if the Government would invest in these to provide to charities and if tax was removed from period pants (yes the Government currently class these as clothing and NOT a menstrual product so us menstruators have to pay tax) then more people could be helped out of period poverty.

Other Period Pants Benefits

  1. Environmental Impact: Besides cost savings, period pants significantly reduce waste, making them an eco-friendly choice. Disposable products generate a substantial amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills.
  2. Convenience: With period pants, you don’t need to worry about running out of supplies or making emergency trips to the store.
  3. Comfort and Safety: Many users find period pants more comfortable and leak-proof, providing a higher level of confidence during their periods.

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The myth that period pants are more expensive is busted! When you consider the long-term savings and environmental benefits, it’s clear that period pants are THE cost-effective and sustainable choice for your menstrual cycle.

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