The State of Menstruation

Did you know that the average woman will have more than 400 periods over 3,700 days or 10 years of her life?

Most women, at least at some point, will menstruate, and periods often come with more than blood. 80% of women experience dysmenorrhea, or period cramps. According to the National Library of Medicine, 32–40% of women report regularly missing school or work due to menstrual pain and a further 10% of women so debilitated by their cramps that they are unable to continue on with their daily activities completely. In 2016, researchers found that period pain can be as bad as experiencing a heart attack.

That pain is caused by the contraction in the uterus to move the tissue lining out. Pain can also cause or go alongside other types of discomfort including nausea, headaches, and pain in other regions of the body. That can take quite a toll on our personal lives, as well as at work. In fact, menstrual symptoms lead to 100 million lost work hours in the US every year.

And those statistics don’t include common period-related conditions like endometriosis that impact 1 in 10 women, fibroids that impact 50% of white women and 70% of African American women at some point in their life as well as menorrhagia, anovulation like PCOS, and more.

To manage, women spend more than $2 billion each year on menstrual products in the US alone, mostly tampons and pads. In a lifetime, the average menstruating woman uses almost 17,000 tampons or pads.

Together, this adds up to a lot of money, a lot of pain and a lot of plastic.

But despite the frequency, conversations around menstruation remain pretty absent at both home and at work. Part of the reason is that 65% of American women are not comfortable talking about their periods with men. The lack of conversation has also led to a pretty slow evolution of period products to help us make our flow easier.

98% of American women still use a combination of tampons and pads, and a survey among 69 websites containing educational materials on puberty in 27 countries, 77% mentioned pads and 65 % mentioned tampons, while only 30% mentioned menstrual cups. Those products can leak, are expensive, and more than 88% of the estimated $1.1 billion worth of tampons sold in 2015 had plastic applicators that has lasting environmental impacts. THINX found more than 54% of women have period stains in *every* pair of underwear. To us, the stats are pretty shocking. We have got to be able to do better on getting well-designed products into the hands of women.

The good news is that in the last five years innovative are taking charge with disruptive products. These products are working to address many of the challenges menstruating women have dealt with for decades, from leaks and period tracking to cost and using materials with environmental impact in mind. They’re also helping remove the stigma that often surrounds menstruation by creating community and starting dialogue to normalize periods.

And finally, our friends, family, and workplaces are getting serious about helping women thrive through more open communication about their needs. We’re proud to be a small part of that process by connecting women to technology, resources, and information.