A Bloody Long Period

The last time the Standards for Sanitary Napkins were updated was in 1980.[1] It has been a near forty years since anyone checked up on the manufacturing standards of the product and that is a bloody long period of time.

Out of the 355 million menstruating women in the country[2], around 12% use a Sanitary Pad. [3]
The product that educated urban women prefer and the product that rural women are being encouraged to use.

When a consumer goes to buy something from the market, they usually go through the alternatives according to their need before making a rational decision and making the purchase.

If you are a woman and reading this, how many times have you checked the details of your usual Sanitary Pads?
The expiry date?
Does it even have an expiry date?

If you are a man reading this and there is a single woman in this world that you care about, a friend, a sister, a wife, a girlfriend, a mother, an acquaintance, that girl you haven’t spoken to in five years even, ask them the previously posed question.

I am angry about this, not because I’m on my period, not because I am a woman. (Even though the latter is a pretty good reason to be incessantly angry)

I am angry as a consumer. A consumer who pays high taxes for the product, which was previously a “Luxury Item”, a consumer, who never checked twice even when something so urgently important was concerned, maybe because of the social construct regarding the product, most purchases were hasty and it never even crossed my mind to confirm that something that I use so often and is such an intimate consumer good should have sufficient medically assured backing.

Maybe I am Naïve to place my trust in the institutions that leverage taxes and deal with the Manufacturing and Standard Maintenance of goods and services of their people.
(But then where exactly am I to place it?)

When a common person is questioned about the Menstrual Health Management in India, a varied range of rural women using bad rag-cloth, sand, and other unhealthy practices is quoted.

But what about the women using disposable Sanitary Napkins assuming it to be one of the best alternatives there was?
The consumers who do not change their choices because of a lack of awareness?
Who looks out for her?

The commercial sanitary napkins, which are classified as medical goods fall under a category where the manufacturer has no legal obligation to reveal the material/contents of the product.

Hence, the product finds itself in a beautiful little glitch in the economy, sustaining itself on social and political indifference.

Nobody talks about it, so the important parts of the decision-making process go unspoken while ‘aesthetic features’ such as,
How white is the pad (a chlorine-bleach called Dioxin is used to whiten the pads. Published reports show that even a dash of dioxin levels may be connected with[4]

  • Abnormal tissue growth in the abdomen and reproductive organs 
  • Abnormal cell growth throughout the body 
  • Immune system suppression
  • Hormonal and endocrine system disruption )

and How good does it smell (chemicals are used which are the reason most women face rashes and irritation) gain undue importance.

The rural woman, away from Urbanization and fancy Consumer products, finds herself much better off thus, than the urban woman,[*] using a product which not only causes a multitude of diseases but also falls under the unfortunate category of Unspoken Topics and hence evades all the necessary discussions required about its usage.

I once read somewhere that the invisible hand of the market touched women in a bad place.

I might get that tattooed on my forehead, go to rooftops and scream it out until my voice is gone and a crowd of people starts pointing, scream it without pausing, all until they actually start listening.

Please, listen.

The inattention of consumer choice and social taboos should not be the reason that young women face problems that can easily be avoided through some policy upgrades.
Women cannot just sit back and let the social norms dictate their menstrual health anymore, it is time to get what is rightfully yours and it is time to draw blood if you have to, it is time for a good period.






[*] In a study done in the Nagpur district in Maharashtra it was found that in urban girls, the use of commercially available sanitary pads was 60.58% and in rural girls, it was 30.82%.







[1] Indian Standard. (1993). Specification for Sanitary Napkins.

[2] Geertz, A., Iyer, L., Kasen, P., Mazzolar, F., & Peterson, K. (2016). Menstrual Health in India Country Landscape Analysis, 1–25.

[3]  Geertz, A. et al. (2016). Menstrual Health in India Country Landscape Analysis. FSG.

[4] Pors, J., & Fuhlendorff, R. (2002). Survey of Chemical Substances in Consumer Products. Danish Environmental Protection Agency.


16 Comments Add yours

  1. Sadhna Soni says:

    I find this article even more interesting. Personally never checked the expiry date of the sanitary napkins pack! V ery thought provoking

  2. anjaneys18 says:

    I feel ashamed that such issues are still alive. We all talk of the growth of humanity and how far we have come. Sure seems in the wrong direction.

  3. appsralli says:

    Reblogged this on appsralli and commented:
    It’s so nice to see young minds thinking, talking about issues so relevant ,so close to our hearts and bodies
    Let’s create awareness ,let’s be the voice of change …

  4. Alka sharma says:

    Very well conveyed I myself has never checked the expiry date of the sanitary napkin. We seriously need to upgrade ourselves.

  5. Namrata says:

    Gud write up dear… An eye opener too… Worth a read & share indeed.

  6. Abaadi says:

    Please question your consumer choices in this sphere.

  7. Abaadi says:

    Precisely, thankyou for captioning it. We need to start working at the fundamentals and work our way up.

  8. Abaadi says:

    Thankyou so much.

  9. Abaadi says:

    Thankyou so much. Exactly! The next time you are making a purchase you can verify if that is what suits your needs or not.

  10. Parul says:

    Thank you very much for raising such a important concern. I will definitely read the details on the wrapper . Please also reflect on the options of creating biodegradable and cheaper pads. Needs attention too.

  11. Parul says:

    Thank you very much for raising such a important concern. I will definitely read the details on the wrapper . Please also reflect on the options of creating biodegradable and cheaper pads. Needs attention too.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Well informed Next time when picking up we know what to check……,.

  13. Anju Singh says:

    It actually never occurred to check expiry date. As u said always buying is done in haste.
    Market delivers what consumer demands. Let’s be better consumers.

  14. Mahima Rao says:

    Very informative.An eye opener.Kudos!!! For bringing it to the forefront.

  15. Abaadi says:

    Yes, Please!

  16. Abaadi says:

    Thankyou for deciding to participate in this rally of being better consumers!

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