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sanitary products in our country


We asked our followers on Instagram, what do you want us to talk about on honeyhands? One of our Japanese readers sent us her question, “In Japan, when we buy sanitary products such as tampons and pads, they put those items into separated black plastic bag or brown paper bag which hides what we bought. Does this happen in different countries?” So I asked about what’s like to buy sanitary products and how people think about them to our writers' friends from all over the world to answer this question!



🇯🇵 Japan (日本) - Hikari

As one of our readers asked in her question, when we buy sanitary products, sometimes condoms, it usually put into a black plastic bag or brown paper bag to be invisible to the others. However, it’s obvious when you’re bringing a normal drugstore bag with a black / brown bag. It happens in every store, such as: supermarket, drugstore or convenience store. Of course, there must be people who don’t want people to see what they bought. And on the other hand, there are people who don’t care, or who think it shouldn’t be like this. Not only for the embarrassment, there are another issues from using different colour bags or separating bags. It could be related to environmental pollution. What do you think? Is it too much?


🇰🇷 South Korea (韓国) - Yurina



Same as Japan, sanitary products are usually put into a black bag or brown paper bag in South Korea. They tend to hide about period like in Japan. For example, they don't say "period" but they call it, "those days". My Korean friends said that they feel shy if the cashier is a guy when they buy sanitary products.

I saw an article about South Korea is one of the most expensive countries to buy sanitary products in the world. (It's almost two times more expensive than Japan.) And I feel it's expensive to buy in Korea so I usually bring back tons of sanitary products in Japan when I go back. Also, I know there was a news article about one of the sanitary products companies in South Korea was selling the sanitary products contained toxic ingredients such as: cancer-causing benzene. So many of Korean women feel scared to trust Korean products now. The most important thing about sanitary products is they have to be safe for women's body. In addition to that, I hope they get reasonable and cheaper.

🇰🇭 Cambodia (カンボジア) - Vatey

The experience might be different from time to time depending on circumstances. In Cambodia, when we buy sanitary products, they’re put in a black bag like Japan. When I was young and lived in the countryside, I was very shy. My mom owns a grocery store at home, so I didn't need to buy pads from anywhere else. But just getting pads from my own home made it difficult enough for me because I had to hide it from my dad. I didn't want anyone to see, especially my dad. Later on when I moved to study in the city, I always put it in the black bag. If there is no black bags available, I would hide it in my backpack. Packing it wasn't that difficult, the challenge was when you buy it from a male seller or when you are searching for it at the aisle where there were males around. You can tell how shy I could be. However, I do not feel that shy anymore when I get older because I realize it is an ordinary thing we need to deal with. Now I feel more comfortable buying it from anyone anywhere, and it is also okay if I need to carry it without a black bag from the stores.


🇨🇳 China (中国) - Karissa

In China, sanitary pads are not put in a dark bag when you buy them and just put normal bag when you go to supermarket. And also I don’t think people who are feel embarrassed when they buy sanitary pads, even I saw some guy buy sanitary pads for their girlfriend. But I guess my mom feel embarrassed when I buy sanitary pads with her, because she always put them in a dark bag.


🇮🇹 Italy (イタリア) - Eli

In Italy, sanitary pads are not put in a darker bag when you buy them. There are some people who tend to be more embarrassed by them… but personally I never cared that much (even now that I'm in Japan, I usually tell the people not to waste the paper bags on me). Most of the people I have around are rather anxious about pads actually holding their flood and they can get a bit paranoid about their pants being stained by blood. Also, my Italian friends, my sister and the female members of my family tend not to use tampons.

イタリアでは、生理用品を黒い袋に入れる習慣はまったくない。人によって買うときに恥ずかしいと思うことがあるとおもうけど... 私は特にそういう風に感じたことはないかな! 笑 (日本語に住んでいる今でも、袋は環境汚染になるしもったいないとなとおもって、いらないって言うことが多い。) 生理用品よりも、私の友達が心配になったり恥ずかしく思ってるのは、生理自体かな。ズボンが汚くなってないかなって常に不安に思っている人は、割と多いかも。あと私の親しい友達と家族は、なぜかわからないけど、あまりタンポンを使わない気がする。

🇬🇧 England (イギリス) - Ruru


I feel like there are more tampons than pads and they even have many kinds of brands for tampons as much as pads. And they put them into separated bags and they put them into same bag with different products.

🇫🇷 France (フランス) - Ruru


I feel like they have better selection of sanitary products than England. Not only pads and tampons, but also menstrual cups, soaps and creams for genital area. Same as France, they don't put them into separated bags.

🇳🇱 the Netherlands (オランダ) - Samah

In the Netherlands, sanitary products etc are never put in a separate bag. I actually don’t experience any shame when buying them or carrying them. I remember when I once needed some and went to get it from the grocery store around the corner. I did not bring any bag and I don’t like buying plastic bags unless it’s absolutely necessary so I just held them and walked home. Of course, this is something that I’ve had to learn. Ten years ago when I had my first period I was super embarrassed but over the years it has become normal for me to talk about my period as well as talk about sanitary products. Not everyone in the Netherlands is like that, sanitary products is fine but it is still a little bit taboo to talk about periods themselves because it is viewed as something nasty. A couple of weeks ago a telecom brand posted a tweet with a link to a blog about “Which apps are the best for tracking your period?”. The brand used all kinds of words except ‘period’ (such as ‘visit from aunt flo’ or ‘that time of the month’). Fortunately, people called them out and they changed it into ‘period’. Small changes like that will hopefully help raising awareness and people becoming more open about it.


🇧🇧 Barbados (バルバドス) - Renee

In Barbados they don't hide sanitary products in black bags like they do in Japan. Women in the Caribbean are known to be very strong, and there is not so much embarrassment when it comes to menstruation.


🇦🇺 Australia (オーストラリア) - Ashleigh

The black bag is not a thing in Australia, either. The first time I saw something of the sort was here in Japan. Buying sanitary products in Australia is quite normalized, and it's only embarrassing when you're first coming across these things, for example during puberty. Putting sanitary products in a black bag only makes them more visible, and it's also contributing to plastic waste.


🇳🇿 New Zealand (ニュージーランド) - Willow

It’s usually put in clear bags, no different to buying anything else. We usually have white bins that open up with a little flap kind of thing or in houses like normal little rubbish bins some with lids some without, sometimes you can see the insides, my friends mainly use tampons and sometimes pads, I use a mixture of pads and tampons as well as mainly using a menstrual cup.

ニュージーランドでは、透明の袋に入れられることが普通だよ。他に買ったものと一緒に入れられるかな。家でも外でも、どこにでも生理用のゴミ箱がある。(たまにゴミ箱の蓋がないものもある。) 私の周りのみんなは、普段タンポンを使って、たまにナプキンを使ってるかな。私はナプキンとタンポン、それから月経カップも使ってる。

🇨🇦 Canada (カナダ) - Alena

From my experience, they aren’t ever put in a black or brown bag at the checkout. That being said, there is normally a bit of embarrassment felt when purchasing them and when carrying them. I try to hide them in my backpack or purse, and always try to hide them when I take one out to the washroom. I will never forget the time I was 21 and had bought a package of tampons right before a flight, but the box didn’t fit in my carry on bag, so I threw away the box and had them all loose in my bag. Of course, my bag was randomly searched LOL. I was so embarrassed. As I have gotten older I have started to care less, but there is still an implicit feeling of embarrassment and a tendency to hide them.


I would have started talking about sanitary products with friends and my mom around 9 or 10 years old. It was definitely a transition and very uncomfortable first using them, as it is totally new, and you learn from observation that everyone hides them and is embarrassed.


I think in Canada, opinions are starting to shift towards being more open about sanitary products. Even commercials and advertisements for them have taken an empowering approach. With social media, I think people have opened up more about menstruation and have started a dialogue.


🇺🇸 the US (アメリカ) - Kassandra

In the states, I’ve never experienced “sanitary products” aka period stuff, separated and put into discrete bags like they are in Japan. They’re just another necessity. I’ve seen embarrassed dads, boyfriends, husbands etc line up at the register alone with sanitary products in their baskets. My dad has made numerous runs to the store for my mom, 3 sisters and I in his lifetime. He’s more shy in buying tampons than he is buying pads, ha! Honestly, the way men currently react to our monthly cycles alone is a testament to how comfortable American society has become with it. I’d tell my guy friends or male coworkers that it’s “that time of the month” and they’re just like “that sucks”. But don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty men that find it totally gross.


From my experience, as you become older, you become more comfortable in how to deal, prepare and plan around it. Middle school me used to sit in the bathroom stall and try to be SO quiet about opening my sanitary products because I was just SO embarrassed. High school me didn’t give a shit, I’d rip the packaging away without a care in the world. Sometimes, I’d randomly hear from the stall next door, “That time of the month huh? I’m sorry!” As women, I feel like we have this comradery where I can literally ask anywhere, “Hi girls, does anyone have a tampon or a pad? It’s an emergency.” You’d most likely see 90% of the empathetic women in the room search through their bags to help a gal out. Everyone has been there, we get it.



That's all! What did you think? We all may grew up in a different culture, but as women, we may feel and think similar on sanitary products and period. What it's like in your country? We'd love to hear your journey with sanitary products as well as period. Please let us know if you have anything you wanna read on honeyhands!


xx honeyhands

Image by Hikari

Written by Hikari and Eli

Illustrations by Lola Rose