The Real Reason Behind the Tampon Shortage—Plus Affordable Alternatives to Try

"A diverse range of period products should be equally accessible for all under any circumstances—so how should we handle the sudden shortage of tampons we're now facing? We have some solutions."

We’ve been living through a myriad of shortages within the past couple of years, from toilet paper to baby formula. With inflation on the rise and the supply chain still experiencing some bumps in the road, tampons have unfortunately fallen onto the list of items in a current shortage.

The tampon shortage raises concern for many. Every month, 1.8 billion people around the world menstruate. In 2020, 34 million women in the United States used tampons. Within the past couple of months, there have been multiple reports of empty shelves everywhere from Target to CVS, all across the country.

Here’s why the tampon shortage is happening, and what you can do to get by until your favorite brand is back on store shelves.

The Tampon Shortage, Explained

woman in brown coat walking on hallway

It’s hard to believe a good as necessary to menstruating individuals as tampons is this hard to find. But why are the shelves so scarce?

It comes down to companies accessing the materials needed to make the tampons. Procter & Gamble, which manufactures Tampax, told the New York Times it’s “been costly and highly volatile to acquire the raw materials needed for production, such as cotton and plastic.”

Even if you somehow get your hands on a box of tampons, it’s going to cost you. According to Bloomberg, tampon prices have increased by nearly 10% since January due to inflation. Even alternatives—like menstrual pads—are rising in cost, with the price increasing by 8%.

This lack of access exacerbates conditions of period poverty and inequalities for mensurating individuals. For all of these reasons, we need to find solutions for affordable period products until this tampon shortage passes.

Alternatives to Consider

If you’re not a fan of change in your period care routine, thankfully there’s no need to panic just yet. We may have to get a little more creative than we’re used to, but many options—primarily sustainable and eco-friendly solutions—are still accessible online.

1. 100% Organic Cotton Tampons

tampon shortage alternatives

These tampons, now sold in the Brightly Shop, are carbon-neutral, made with 100% organic cotton, biodegradable (excluding the tampon applicators), and good for your body; they’re fragrance-free, chemical-free, and hypoallergenic. Find them in two options: Regular Tampons and Super Tampons.

2. Sustainable Pads

Most pads take 500-800 years to decompose. These 100% organic cotton, fully biodegradable pads take less than a year. They’re plastic-free and free of pesticides, herbicides, fragrances, polyester, rayon, deodorants, dioxins, dyes, and chemicals. Even the wrappers dissolve in water! Find them in two options: Day Pads and Night Pads.

3. Sustainable Liners

tampon shortage alternatives

Looking for eco-friendly liners? This comfy option features 100% organic cotton. It’s fully biodegradable, free of all the icky stuff you don’t want near your body (including pesticides, fragrances, and chemicals), and has water-dissolvable wrappers.

4. Reusable Menstrual Cup

A menstrual cup may not suit every body, but it’s a great solution for anyone who wants to make one purchase they can reuse for years. This one is Brightly-approved for being beginner-friendly—there’s a patented pull-tab that makes removal super easy. It also has a capacity of 2-3 super tampons and comes in two sizes: Slim Fit and Full Fit.

Bonus: Plastic-Free Favorites Box

tampon shortage alternatives

If you want period care products plus some extras that allow you to live more sustainably in other parts of your life as well, this Plastic-Free Favorites Box is a great place to start. It features day and night pads, a set of Swedish dishcloths, a set of Food Huggers, refillable deodorant, and eco-friendly socks.

Concluding Thoughts

white strings on blue surface

Every mensurating person should have the right to use the period products they feel most comfortable with. We hope the tampon storage passes and store shelves are fully stocked again soon.

We completely understand that it can be hard to suddenly switch products and get into a new routine entirely, but if you’re open to alternative brands or products, you might just find something that suits your lifestyle even more than what you were using before.


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A diverse range of period products should be equally accessible for all under any circumstances—so how should we handle the sudden shortage of tampons we're now facing? We have some solutions.

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