Alternative sanitary products are big business at the moment. With so much talk around saving the planet and reducing the amount of waste we produce, we all need to be more conscious about the products we use. Pads and tampons are a huge waste but there are now alternatives which can save you money as well as saving the planet.
Let’s get straight to the point; periods are messy. Even if you use disposables, you’re lying if you’ve said that you’ve never leaked through your underwear or found that you’ve left some on the toilet seat as you’ve got up. No period is mess free. “It’ll go all over my hands” is no excuse not to try these alternatives. If you’re grossed out by your period, you need to get over it because you’ll have them every month for a good 50 years!
So what alternatives are there? Let’s start with the menstrual cup. They’re the most talked about alternative sanitary product, with places like Boots and even Tesco selling them. They’re made from medical grade silicone and each cup lasts between 8-10 years. Ok, the initial cost is more expensive than a pack of tampons but think of how much you’d save in those 10 years. There are so many brands out there but there’s a questionnaire you can fill out online which will tell you the best brand for your body. The brand Mooncup have a handy table on the side of their box to tell you which size you need, A or B, depending on your age, whether you’ve had a baby and if so, how. Yes, they’re messy to insert and remove but nothing some soap and water can’t fix. They also take some getting used to in order to fit them comfortably but once it’s in, you won’t feel it at all. You can leave your cup in for around 8 hours so you don’t need to change it while you’re out or even while you’re at work.
Cloth pads are another investment but they’ll also save you money. Just like cloth nappies, you have to wash them before use (with washing powder and no softener) to make them as absorbent as possible. They’re also so much prettier than disposable ones, a lot of companies have a whole range of fabrics for you to choose from so you can design your alternative sanitary pads around your colour preferences. Just like traditional pads, they have wings but instead of sticky backs, the cloth pads have poppers. They feel a lot more secure because of these and you’re unlikely to leak, as long as you choose the right size for your flow and change it regularly. They will stain, it’s expected, but sun bleaching can get that out if it bothers you.
A newer product which has just appeared on the alternative sanitary product scene are period pants. These look like ordinary underwear except there’s an absorbent core which is designed to soak up the blood. You don’t need to wear a pad or tampon with these but you can if it makes you feel more secure and comfortable. They are definitely higher priced, ranging from between £9.95 to around £25 a pair but if you can afford it, they’re definitely worth a go. Imagine just getting up in the morning, seeing that you’ve started your period and just reaching into your underwear drawer instead of searching around for pads and tampons. It’s the dream really, isn’t it?!
If you’re still not convinced by reusable products, there are eco-friendly brands out there. A quick Google will tell you which ones use sustainable materials or even biodegradable ones. These brands also steer clear of the chemicals found in disposable products (yup, there are a heap of them which we’ve had to put near our vaginas for years because we’ve had no alternatives!) Again, they cost more but unfortunately that’s just one of the downsides of eco friendly products (I did write about plastic-free privilege a while ago) but if you can afford them, both your vagina and the planet will thank you. I promise.
I have all three of the reusable products; cloth pads I’ve been using for around 9 months, my cup for around 6 and I’m about to try period pants for the first time. I’m going to write a review on them as soon as I can, letting you know which is my favourite so you can try them for yourself. I will say this though; alternative sanitary products have actually made me enjoy my periods.