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Does Industry Really Support Menstrual Equity?

Does Industry Really Support Menstrual Equity?

#myperiodNOshame: I was 12 years old when I got my first period. When I told my mom I just started crying—I don’t know why. Maybe because it was hard for me to talk about and I felt a level of embarrassment about it but I also felt excitement...

I went to the movies that day with my friend Kelly (Days of Thunder for you Tom Cruise fans) and I went to the bathroom like, 5 times, to check my pad.

– Jamie McConnell, WVE’s Director of Programs and Policy

Note: Keep an eye out for more #myperiodNOshame stories. We’ll be sharing these throughout our website — in blog posts, articles and more. Have a story to share? Email us today!


People who menstruate are now going to have more information about ingredients used in period products like tampons, pads, menstrual cups, and period underwear thanks to a law that was just signed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The law requires disclosure of intentionally-added ingredients directly on the package and although it only applies to New York, this sets a new precedent for disclosure nationwide!

This victory adds to New York’s growing leadership in supporting menstrual equity. In the last few years the state has required that all public schools and correctional facilities provide free period products, and the state has also eliminated the tampon tax. 

Not surprisingly the mainstream industry is balking at the new disclosure requirements in New York. A spokesperson for the Baby and Adult Hygiene Products Association (BAHP), which represents corporate giants like Procter and Gamble (P&G) and Kimberly Clark (KC), said of the law “’BAHP remains concerned that this new requirement will result in confusion for consumers and disrupt the availability of these products in the state.’” Ummm … puh-leeze.

What’s interesting is KC and P&G often market their support of menstrual equity — they contribute thousands of products to organizations like PERIOD that distribute period products to those in need. Yet, when it comes to giving people who use these products the right to know what’s actually in them industry makes the patriarchal statement that consumers will be confused by the information. People seem to be doing just fine having ingredient information for food and personal care products, why should period products (that in some cases go inside our body) be any different? And to suggest ingredient disclosure would “disrupt the availability of these products” is just ludicrous and a scare tactic.

It really makes one wonder, what does the industry have to hide? Although P&G and KC are already disclosing some ingredients online (THANKS to YOU), the New York law pushes companies to be more specific about what ingredients they are using (for example, companies will often label cotton and/or rayon—when it’s really more helpful for consumers to know if they use rayon OR cotton) or what ingredients are used in the fragrance, or other components of these products, etc.

The industry’s pushback on this law is disappointing and is a huge disservice to people who get their periods. If you use it in your product you should be required to disclose it. Period. Already companies like Seventh Generation, Sustain, NatraCare, and LOLA disclose intentionally added ingredients and the NY law makes sure other companies follow suit.

This doesn’t end with New York, either. Right to know should be given to people who menstruate no matter the state they live in. If passed, the Menstrual Product Right to Know Act would require products sold in EVERY state to disclose ingredients.

Menstrual equity isn’t just about free products—if companies are truly going to support period equity they need to support ingredient right-to-know and stop shaming people they need to cover up their body’s natural smell with a fragranced tampon or pad, and stop advertisements that promote the stigma surrounding periods, by suggesting no one should know you’re on your period (on funny note, check out this SNL video).

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