Kathryn Lindsay
May 02, 2016 9:02 am
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I got my first period onstage during a dress rehearsal for my middle school’s production of Music Man. The moment the last “right here in River City” ended, I scurried away from the lights and into the restroom, lifting up my dress and looking at something I can’t even remember the specifics of anymore, because it’s happened every month since. That is, until I got an IUD back in December 2015.

Skipping your period is a common side effect of getting an IUD and it’s one I realized I had around the time I was asked to try out a menstrual product for HelloGiggles. Writing about period products had kinda become my thing and just as I was about to tell my boss that sure, I’d give this new product a try, I realized — when? The last time I had anything remotely resembling a period was in the week after getting my IUD inserted. Two months later, Aunt Flo had completely disappeared.

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Some of the benefits were immediate: I felt lucky that I no longer had to wake up in the mornings with cramps or have to sneak out of rooms with a tampon secreted in my sleeve thanks to unwarranted shame some people still feel when it comes to their periods. But a completely new benefit dawned on me as well. Assuming my periods normally last around four days and I used two to three tampons a day, plus pads for the lighter moments, and money spent during emergency trips to the laundromat, I was about to start saving $70 a year! If I had never gotten a period, I’d have an extra $770 in my bank account, which I’d love, because Beyonce just started her tour.

Once I wasn’t having one anymore, I realized it’s expensive to have a period. I am privileged enough to have health insurance that covered getting an IUD, which means, for the next five years I can forgo any period-related expenses. This is not something all people are able to do, and it’s something YouTuber Ingrid Nilsen is working to raise awareness about — specifically when it comes to the “tampon tax.”

Certain states place a tax on tampons as being “luxury items,” which, anyone who’s gotten their period can tell you, is really not what we should be calling them. In fact, Ingrid brought up the “tampon tax” with the president when she had the opportunity to interview him:

She’s also collaborated with Conscious Period, an organic period product company who, for every box of tampons purchased, gives a box of pads to a homeless person in need.

Other small but important steps are being taken to make menstrual products more accessible for everyone. Some public schools in New York will soon provide free pads and tampons for students who need them and it seems like every week there’s a new social media campaign out to help eliminate the stigma that comes with periods altogether.

For me, it took the absence of a period in my life to notice the inequalities that had been normalized. I know I won’t be welcoming my period back into my life any time soon, but that doesn’t mean those who have them should face an unfair financial burden because of it.

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