22 May 2024

Sanitary napkin is always a sensitive subject because the wrong type of cotton pad can easily irritate women’s skins. Recently, this feminine care product became a political debate, sort of, after there were conflicting reports about new taxes on sanitary napkins.

The government earlier this week had to refute a report that sanitary napkin was classified as a luxury item and subject to 40 percent. The report went viral on social media.

The government’s spokeswoman clarified that this feminine care product is in fact categorized as a necessity and it is subject to 7 percent value-added tax.

Sanitary napkin has always been a delicate object, even though this cotton product is essential for women every month. The market of sanitary napkins grows every year around 3-5 percent. It is estimated that 140 million pieces of sanitary napkins are used every month in Thailand.

The sanitary napkin market is strongly competitive, totaling Bt5.3 billion annually. The market is huge as there are more than 20 million Thai women in their reproductive age or between 13 to 55 years old.

The normal pad is priced around Bt5 apiece. But there are more expensive products available as well. Sanitary napkin production involves innovation with a variety of product choices such as tampons which give women more comfort to do physical activities.

Also, sanitary pads made with certified organic cotton and those with skin pH balanced are more expensive than products with chemicals which can be harsh on skin. Some pads have special fragrances and stylish patterns to attract customers. Also, there are sanitary napkins designed exclusively for the nighttime.

Normally, a woman would replace her sanitary pads once every four hours. Therefore, it is estimated that she has to use six pads per day during her menstrual period which last around 6 days per month. Therefore, a woman may have to spend around Bt180 per month or Bt2,160 per year for this essential feminine care product. The figure is not cheap.

Although it is a necessity, menstruation is still perceived as a taboo topic in certain regions and rural areas in some developing countries. Some people think it is inappropriate to discuss issues related to women’s sexuality.

Some convenience store cashiers in Thailand offer a wrapping service for customers buying a sanitary napkins because some customers don’t feel comfortable being seen carrying a sanitary napkin pack around. They should not be.

In spite of the controversy over the confusing new tax rate of sanitary napkins, it is a positive sign that the Thai society can openly discuss this feminine hygiene product which is simply a natural symptom of women hormone.