Is there a national tampon shortage?

Jennifer Geer

After months of complaints on social media, and finally, an article from Time, top retailers and manufacturers admitted to the shortage.

This year, Americans have experienced shortages in baby formula, camp counselors, child care workers, lifeguards, and swim lesson teachers.

It's not a stretch to say, it's been a rough year for women. Add in record-high gas prices, and this summer does not look to be a fun one.

Prices were already up nearly 10% for the year on tampons. And now, for months, social media has been warning of a tampon shortage in certain areas of America. In fact, #tamponshortage is a trending topic on Twitter.

Despite this, it took an article from Time for anyone to take notice. In The Great Tampon Shortage of 2022: The Supply Chain Problem No One’s Talking About, the author, Alana Semuels, states, "In the last few months, I’ve visited stores in New York, Massachusetts, and California—no tampons."

Semuels also found women from Washington DC complaining of shortages on an online group, and she interviewed Dana Marlowe, the founder of I Support the Girls about the shortage.

Marlowe's nonprofit group provides bras and menstrual hygiene for people experiencing homelessness. She says her group has been struggling to find tampons for months, "What’s been going on for a couple months is that organizations call us up and say, ‘we need tampons,’ and we go to our warehouse and there’s nothing there.”

A recent tweet from I Support the Girls shows sparse shelves in Indianapolis and Maryland.

"Our team’s photo of local pharmacies last week in Maryland and Indianapolis showing empty shelves where #Tampons use to be. #TamponShortage - We’ve heard your DMs of empty shelves from Iowa to Toronto and NYC to LA. Have you seen shelves near you that look like this?"

Why is there a shortage?

There are several factors leading to the shortages. Insider explains the cost of materials for producing tampons is up, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine is limiting the availability of plastics and absorbency materials used in tampons.

What does Amy Schumer have to do with anything?

After the Time article, retailers and manufacturers admitted the shortage is real. In a strange twist, Procter & Gamble (makers of Tampax) told Time the tampon shortage is due to a successful marketing campaign by Amy Schumer.

Schumer responded on Instagram by saying, "Whoa, I don't even have a uterus."

Why we shouldn't blame Schumer

Even if Schumer’s successful ad campaign was to blame for a rise in purchases of Tampax tampons, the shortage includes other brands.

Besides, tampons are not a “fun” item women buy on a whim because they see a celebrity using one. Instead, they are a necessary hygiene product as critical to life for people who menstruate as toilet paper is for everyone else.

What can you do?

If you find your shelves are bare of tampons, there are other options to help you get through the shortage. You can try looking for different brands, some organic brands may be easier to find. Other alternatives include menstrual cups and period underwear.

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What about you? Have you had trouble finding tampons on your store shelves? Let us know in the comments.

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(Note: a previous version of this story was published on Medium.)

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area. New articles published each weekday.

Chicago, IL
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