Over the past year, you’ve likely become familiar with the term “shrinkflation.” You might’ve seen many customers reporting their products are now smaller and often more expensive.

Shrinkflation allows manufacturers and retailers to increase operating margins and profitability by reducing costs. While they maintain sales volume, the average consumer spends the same money for less product.

But for women and menstruating people, this means you must use twice as many menstrual products, running the risk of spotting or believing there is something wrong with your body.

A viral complaint on TikTok

It’s one thing for your favorite bag of chips to bring less. It’s quite another to believe you’re bleeding more than usual this month. That’s what TikTok user Melissa Simonsen denounced in her video, which now has more than three million views.

“I’m denouncing you, Tampax. These sizes that you standardized so that we all, as women, would know which ones we wear for each time period during our menses,” she says. “They are no longer accurate because you have shrunk them.”

The creator explains how the brand has apparently promoted smaller products for the same price.

Simonsen then points to a chart showing the different sizes of tampons and continues, “And women have gone to the doctor thinking something is wrong with their bodies because you did this and didn’t tell anyone. Shame on you.”

Social media users agree that something has changed

Simonsen told BuzzFeed she thought something was wrong when her period seemed to become heavier. “I started to suspect something was wrong towards the end of last year,” she said. “I was pregnant earlier in the year and unfortunately suffered a miscarriage, so for several months in early 2023, I hadn’t seen or used tampons.”

“My initial thought (similar to so many in my comments section) was that MY body had changed after my miscarriage. That there might even be something worrisome about an increased flow at my age, and I began to worry about early menopause and whether we would be able to get pregnant again if we tried.”

It turns out she wasn’t the only one going through that situation

“Pads have also gotten shorter, thinner and don’t stick at all,” one user wrote in the comments. “And here I thought I was going crazy.”

“Is this why I’ve been bleeding through my normal ones?” wrote another. “I’ve been bleeding through supers every two hours, and now I know why,” added a third.

And users on Reddit have receipts

On Reddit, users have shared photos of the difference between tampons of the same type from previous years and current ones.

Credit: AspiringExpat4/Reddit

“I’ve been buying their tampons for years, and I very, very rarely bleed…probably twice in 15+ years,” one user wrote. “The ones I’ve bought recently have been AWFUL. It’s like they don’t absorb anything.”

Tampax defends itself

For its part, a spokesperson for Procter & Gamble, Tampax’s parent company, defended the brand in a statement to PEOPLE magazine.

“Tampons are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and conform to the industry absorbency or sizing ranges listed on the side of each package,” the spokeswoman says. “The FDA absorbency ranges have not changed since their introduction more than 30 years ago.”

And this is true. Since 1989, the FDA has maintained a rule that modifies tampon labeling regulations and standardizes absorbency terms and sizes. They are junior (less than 6 grams of liquid), regular (6-9 grams of liquid), super (9-12 grams of liquid), and super plus (12-15 grams of liquid). An ultra buffer absorbency size (15-19 grams of fluid) was added in 2000, and Junior was relabeled as light in 2004.

According to the 2004 regulatory document, the “FDA requires that standardized terms be used in the labeling of a menstrual tampon to indicate its specific absorbency. This standard allows women to compare the absorbency of one brand and style of tampon with the absorbency of other brands and styles.”