The Hidden Costs of Menstruation

The Hidden Costs of Menstruation

Publié par Hannah Legault le


How much does a period cost per month? Analyzing how much of a Canadian household’s budget goes towards periods and menstrual care every year can be a difficult task. However, it’s a factor that could change the perspective of many when it comes to the debate on menstrual product accessibility and equity in Canada. The barriers in collecting data arise as we try to quantify an experience as unique as menstruating. Yet, even looking at the minimum hidden cost of periods, the cycle of period poverty provides more clarity.


How Much Does A Period Cost Per Month?


With variations in cycles ranging from three days to eight days or more, preferences for certain product types, and, more broadly, the increasing cost of living around the country, pinpointing an exact cost to our menstrual cycles is not a reality. However, there are common, significant costs associated with having a period that are not currently—but should be—included in discussions around affordability and access.


In addition to the essential cost of period products themselves (regular or organic pads, tampons, liners, cups, and/or period underwear), additional monthly expenses could include all or some of the following:


Laundry: The cost associated with extra laundry during your period is something many people do not consider. When living at or below the poverty line—in any region of Canada—laundry is, unfortunately, one expense that can send a family over budget for the month. With a laundromat charging anywhere from $5 to $15 per load, a household of people who menstruate can easily find themselves having to choose between laundry and paying for extra food or transportation each month.


Pain Relief: Depending on the individual’s relief method of choice, the literal cost of comfort during your period can range from $7 for a bottle of acetaminophen to $12 for a brand-name product such as Midol. Alternatively, some people choose to use natural remedies, such as cannabis for menstrual pain relief. Not only are these options more expensive, but some are still stigmatized for many menstruators specifically non-white individuals and marginalized or low-income communities.


Rest and Recovery: For Canadians who experience severe PMS symptoms, time off work during your period means lost wages. PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), for example, is a condition affecting some people who menstruate, where symptoms of PMS are more severe and can often be debilitating. Whether work is missed due to increased physical pain or an onset of mental health symptoms, the thought of time off to stay in bed and rest during their period is not an option for the increasing number of Canadian menstruators living paycheque to paycheque.


A Period Budget Breakdown


Considering the above variables, the cost of one individual’s comfortable period (in Southern Ontario, for cost-of-living context) would range from $15 in products and basic pain relief + $15 for laundry + $115 for lost wages (at minimum wage).


If you work full-time at minimum wage, the cost of your period would be 7% of your total income.


Those who can afford it may incorporate additional costs too, such as naturopathic support, nutritional supplements, acupuncture, menstrual cramp cream, new underwear, and sheets because of bloodstains, heat packs, and more.


These three variables are the more general costs associated with periods. The list is not exhaustive—it merely gives some perspective and I implore you to consider how much of your bank account must work around your period.


Every person who menstruates has unconsciously learned to balance their highly personal experience with a system that is both shaming a biological function of the human body while also creating substantial barriers to access for many. At a time where Canadians are struggling to afford shelter, food, and transportation, these extra costs for those who menstruate need to be voiced and considered in discussions surrounding period equity and accessibility.