Bleeding Money : A Cost Benefit Analysis of My Vagina

DIY Panty Liners

I had no choice in what my sex was as I exited my mothers womb, and subsequently do not have much of a choice when it comes to continuously purchasing feminine products until I hit menopause (I’ve heard that’s a fun time, too).  Nothing hurts my purse strings more than having to frequent a drug store during my time of the month.  I feel it is truly a struggle that only my uterus-having peers understand.  I can stand in the feminine hygiene product aisle contemplating whether I should spend a few more dollars to get the fancy tampons or take a leap and try the generic store brand that may be extremely uncomfortable, but hey I’d save $2-$3 on my tight budget.  This is just for tampons. If I factor in purchasing any sort of pad to protect my expensive panties, my period is estimated to set me back about $5,600 during my lifetime.

A few years ago I decided there had to be a better way to remain hygienic while saving some money on feminine products, so I decided to fashion my own panty-liners – this may be TMI for some of my male friends that could not care less about this struggle.  I made my way to the fabric store because I figured I can sew and I can probably make something cute too, which would possibly cheer me up during the time of the month as well.  I was able to buy several yards of fabric, quilt batting, and nylon (which acts as a fluid proof barrier) for under $10.  These supplies landed me about 20 mini-pads that were completely reusable and much more environmentally friendly for a much lower cost than what I was paying for panty liners at the drug store.  You could factor in the labor costs, and the effort of laundering these pads, but they still landed my homemade panty liners cheaper than the alternative.

After this realization, I decided to look into solutions to solve the tampon purchasing dilemma, while knowing it is probably not the best idea for my health to make any sort of tampon.  Luckily, the reusable cups like the DIVA brand have already been produced and can be purchased for around $30-$40, which is steep at first, but this is still about 50% less than the projected $75 a year tampons cost.  And the DIVA cup is projected to last 3 years with proper care and cleaning, which makes it even more cost efficient.

Now I may have made some uncomfortable already with this taboo topic of the monthly shedding of my uterine wall and frugal thinking of how can I save a few extra dollars to afford the vacation I want to take this summer, but hear me out.  The biggest pro I have heard from anyone using a DIVA cup is less cramping.  I love feeling like there are tiny dinosaurs running around my uterus just as much as the next girl, but that’s a pro large enough for me to at least give it a try.  Store bought tampons can be loaded with chemicals that cause cramping, and the rubbing of these products can cause cramps as well.  So now I hear, reusable feminine products save me money, and cause less pain.  Other pros that are frequently discussed are that it is more convenient because reusable cups can stay in up to 12 hours and have no risk of TSS because they are not physically absorbing any bodily fluids.  Reusable cups and DIY pantyliners are reported to be more comfortable, and are less prone to allowing accidents like leaking.  Lastly, and as stated before these products are significantly more sustainable.  I like to feel green during my time of the month, and not because of nausea.

I encourage ladies to give non-conventional feminine hygiene products a chance. They are better for your body, will save you lots of money, and you will be helping the planet.  If all else fails at least you have an interesting conversation piece.


Sarah Maguire : Public Health guru specializing in sexual and women’s health issues. Usually spend my free time at dive bars, eating cheese, or in, on, or around large bodies of water.