solitary confinement orange is the new black
Credit: Netflix

Every woman hates their period. It’s messy, painful, and in general just a big pain in the ass vagina. But can you imagine having to deal with your period in prison where there’s limited access to even the cheapest pads and tampons?

Well, Women’s Health Mag recently spoke with Chandra Bozelko, a prison reform advocate and writer who blogs about the six years she spent as a prisoner at York Correctional, to find out more about the sad reality of having your period in prison. And here’s what she had to say.

You have to place an order for tampons and pads at least a week ahead.

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According to Bozelko, “You have to place an order a week ahead via a slip, and if there’s a mistake anywhere along the way, which is fairly common, you just don’t get your items.”

Pads and tampons are more expensive in prison.

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According to Ms. Magazine, a package of tampons could cost as much as $5.00 in prison.

It’s very hard to afford pads and tampons in prison.

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Because you have to buy pads and tampons in prison and because getting a job in prison is hard (and pays terribly, like 75 cents a day), unless someone is sending you money (from the outside world), “ordering pads and tampons [in prison] can be incredibly expensive,” notes Bozelko.

Most women prefer pads over tampons.

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Tampons are usually very poor quality and only come in one size. Bozelko said, “I’d hear of women saying they used three at a time because that’s what they needed for their flow.”

However, the pads were still terrible.

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“Women were forced to wear them until they were soaked through, it wasn’t uncommon to see a bloody pad slide out of someone’s pant leg on the floor.” Noted Bozelko.

Correctional Officers (or C.O.’s) will often use pads or tampons as a power tool over women to shame them.

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Bozelko said, “You’d ask a C.O. for pads or tampons and he would ask you questions like, ‘How long is this one going to last?”

C.O.’s would even use menstrual health problems as a way to mess with you, psychologically.

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Bozelko explain, “If I saw it once, I saw it 35 times that someone would say to a CO, ‘I don’t have anything, I’m gonna bleed right through my clothes,’ and he’d say, ‘Go ahead, bleed right through your clothes, I don’t care.’ …Then when women did bleed through, which did happen frequently, the guards would make fun of her for it. It was really just a set-up to treat women poorly.”

If you have an “accident” with your period, you’re SOL.

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According to Bozelko, it’s not uncommon for women to be denied access to showers for several days.

If you have problems with endometriosis or other similiar health problems, life would be even more misrable.


Bozelko said that in her prison the only pain relievers available if you had “serious cramps” were mini bottles of generic Tylenol (which, of course, you had to purchase).

In solitary confinement it’s EVEN WORSE.

solitary confinement orange is the new black
Credit: Netflix

Bozelko explained that in solitary confinement, prisoners are not usually given access to water, showers are limited to twice a week, and that soap was usually denied too.

To learn more about Chandra Bozelko, her time in prison, and her thoughts since then, check out her blog here.