This is a winning entry of our writing contest on “Periods in Pandemic” by Dyuti Dutta

The day began as usual, with me frantically looking up COVID data on the internet to add to my anxiety, while my father sprayed some sanitizer on the handle of our front door for the fifth time. Just then, I got a notification from my period tracker: ‘Cycle expected tomorrow.’ I groaned to myself and got up to check my pile of sanitary pads that we had stocked up in the beginning of the lockdown.

“Oh, no!” I realized there were only about half a dozen pads left, and that it had been four months since we had stocked up on them. How time flew when in quarantine! I walked to the other room where my mother was lying down and asked her if she had any more packets lying around.

“No. You know that I’ve switched to cups, I don’t use pads anymore,” she reminded me for the millionth time, and for the millionth time I cursed myself for not being able to use a menstrual cup. It would have saved both the environment (and me) a lot of hassle.

“Can you order some on the grocery app?”, I asked her.

“No slots are available,” she replied.

Not a surprise. They’ve hardly been sending deliveries to our area ever since the lockdown started. 

So, there was only one option left: going to an actual medical store and hoping that they would have sanitary pads. It’s not a big deal, you would think. Of course, a medical store would have all essential items stocked up. Right? Yes, but that also depends on what medical stores consider to be essential.

The supply of sanitary pads, as it turns out, has been minimal during the pandemic. Although we managed to get our hands on the last remaining pack in one of the medical stores from our area, it did leave me to wonder about the next person who would be in a similar situation and the fact that they would not be as lucky. Moreover, if someone like me, who is living in a residential area of a metropolitan city finds it difficult to access something as basic as a menstrual hygiene product, what must the majority of the population in our country be facing at this point?

While it is important to talk about the direct effects of the pandemic, we seem to be ignoring the indirect and largely invisible impact of it on the female population. It is sad but not surprising that no mainstream media platform is taking up the issue of the lack of access to sanitary products for women that has resulted from the pandemic, because if they did, most of them would lose half of their viewership; we still live in a country where most men change the channel if an advertisement for a sanitary pad or hygiene wash comes on TV.

The pandemic has us extra cautious about running out of pads and tampons, and while foresightedness and constant worry can fix this problem on an individual basis, we will definitely have to take the conversation forward in order to try and solve it on a social level. A lot of retail stores and companies are now giving out something known as a ‘quarantine care package’ which includes masks, gloves and sanitizers. Such a package could also perhaps include a packet of sanitary pads, since they are no less scarce in availability these days. This is the least that could be done to ease the double burden of periods on women during the pandemic.

Author: Dyuti Dutta

I’m a twenty-year-old female on a journey of self-discovery, hoping to make a difference to a few lives along the way. I am currently pursuing Clinical Psychology at the masters level, and happiness on an amateur level. Some of my other interests include art, dance, theatre, cooking and political gossip. Catch me dabbling in creative expression on my Instagram handle: @withlove.dyuti

Edited by: Divya Rosaline