How much does your period cost? Stellenbosch University calls for tampon tax to be eradicated

A selection of feminine hygiene products.
A selection of feminine hygiene products.

According to a press release published on Stellenbosch University’s website, the Stellenbosch University Law department has written to the National Treasury to ask that sanitary products be included in the list of VAT-free items.

The tampon tax has long been a debate amongst many women all over the world and many are raising their voices on this issue more than ever.  

In the published statement, attorney at the Law Clinic at Stellenbosch, Monja Posthumuus-Meyjes, revealed some findings from research conducted by both her candidate attorneys Erika Wright and Danielle Louw.

Their research specifically focused on how the price of sanitary products affects women who aren’t able to afford it. Meyjes says that the fact that they can’t afford these products often mean that many are “forced to turn to alternative options that pose serious health risks” because they’re often unhygienic options.   

If women who can afford these products already find them expensive then how on earth could we even begin to imagine the plight that many young women from marginalised groups, particularly the women in poverty-stricken areas face? 

Stellenbosch University aren’t the only ones who are calling for the ban on tampon tax. Recently Cosmopolitan magazine created a petition calling on people to sign their #TamponTaxMustFall appeal.

To date there are more than 52 000 signatures.

The fact is that we cannot escape our periods. Plus they are a good indication that our bodies are working as they should be at certain ages. While periods are a natural part of life they can be a huge expense for too many women. 

Whether you use sanitary pads, menstrual cups, tampons or period panties, you'll need to work out what's best for your comfort and needs.

On Menstrual Hygiene Day, London's mayor Sadiq Khan announced that he was making plans to eradicate period poverty. In a Vogue article, detailing how his team carried out research around menstruation, they found that "17 percent of of women aged 16 - 24 admitted that there have been times when they have not been able to afford appropriate menstrual products".

Following that he released a statement saying, "It is hard to believe that young women and girls in the capital are experiencing this type of poverty."

We totally agree.

Here in SA, a News24 article highlights what our girls and women go through at home and why a necessary first step is to get sanitary pads added to the zero-rated Value Added Tax (VAT) list.

Paul Herman writes, "Some past studies have indicated that poor girl pupils can miss up to 50 days of school a year because they cannot afford sanitary pads and therefore stay at home to avoid possible embarrassment. Other girls said they resorted to using newspapers and old rags during their periods."

Soon, an independent panel will consider the submissions sent from the public recently, asked for by National Treasury concerning the addition of sanitary items to the list. We hope to hear good news soon.

In the meantime, here's what you'll be paying depending on the length and heaviness of your period. 

1. Sanitary items


There are a number of different brands that come in different price ranges. Here are a few:

Always Ultra Super Plus 14 Sanitary Pads R44,99 at Clicks 

Lil-Lets Maxi Thick Pads Super Unscented 16 Pads R32,99 at Clicks

READ MORE: The P word during Ramadan: Society’s taboo subject


Tampons are quite popular for athletes and women who find pads unwieldy. They vary in price range. Here are a few:

Lil-Lets Tampons Super 32 Tampons R49,99 at Clicks 

Kotex Tampons Super 32 Tampons R53,49 at Clicks

Menstrual cups

These can be used for up to five years which means that you don't have to keep buying them every month. Unlike pads and tampons, menstrual cups collect your menstrual fluid rather than absorb them. You also have to clean your menstrual cup every few hours so that it does not fill up and cause leakage.

The Ellecup R299,00 at

Mooncup® R499,00 at Butterfly wings

Washable/Reusable pad

The title is quite self-explanatory. You can keep using these pads for as long as five years if you wash them correctly and as directed by the brand. It is very important they are washed accordingly because if not, you make be at risk of infections.

Woman-Kind Reusable Funky Fabric Pads 2-pack R96,00 at Faithful to Nature

3 Piece Large Pad Set R310,00 at Hannahpad

READ MORE: I tried Modibodi period panties and I liked it

Period panties

These panties absorb your menstrual fluids like a pad or a tampon would. They are washable meaning that you can reuse them and they can last for up to two years depening on how you look after them. 

Sensual Boyleg – Light Absorbency R395,00 at Feel Good & Co.


Use these during and after your period to help prevent leaking and staining. A box or packet of 20s costs anything around R20 at Dischem.

2. For your period cramps

Cramping and your period usually go hand in hand for many women and the cramp intensity can vary among women and on the day of your period. If you're worried about the intensity of your pain, visit your gynaecologist to rule out conditions like fibroids and endometriosis.

Here is a breakdown how much your pain management can cost you:

Pain meds

From your everyday paracetamol to your ibuprofen these tablets are a monthly expense for many women: 

Panado Paracetamol 500mg 24 Tablets R23,99 at Clicks

Nurofen Ibuprofen Period Pain Tablets 12 Tablets R41,99 at Clicks

Hot water bottle

Sometimes you need to target the pain more directly and hot water bottles can give that much needed relief when it is that time of the month. Although they are not a monthly expense they are necessary for this list.

Hot water bottle with cover green 2lt R102,95 at Dischem

Safeway Electrical Hot Water Bottle Red R109,00 at Clicks

READ MORE: PSA: You can now track your periods using your fitbit

3. For your sanity and overall well-being

Junk food

We know, we know but sometimes it feels like there a few things that help ease the pain and indulging in chocolate, burgers and pizzas are the temporary comfort food you need especially on day one or two. Be careful though - prolonged periods can be bad for your mental health.

Let's face it - broccoli has it's place on our plates but sometimes it just won't help you feel sane while you are pmsing. 

Cadbury Glow Chocolate Pralines 160g R76,95 at Clicks

Delite foods fruity chews sweets sugar free 50g R29,95 at Dischem

If you don't want to mission around stores getting ready for your period, some companies compile period packages that are catered for you and your needs. 

Ladybug Red subscription box R349,00 at LadyBug Red

WATCH: Period Box Unboxing | LadyBugRed | South African Blogger | ByLungi

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