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4 Pad & Tampon Alternatives

If you're curious about what alternatives are out there to manage your flow then you're in the right place. There are various benefits to switching from disposable pads and tampons and a multitude of reasons that people are doing it. Making the change can mean less cost, more personal comfort, ease of use or a reduction in chemical exposure or impact on mother earth. Each option that I explore below has its own set of pros and cons and every woman will have to find which product suits her best.

I know it can be daunting changing up your usual routine, especially on the first day of your cycle when some women aren’t feeling their best selves. That’s why I've put together a list nutting out what's on offer and all the things you want to know.

1) Menstrual Cups

A menstrual cup (also known as a luna or a moon cup) is a bell-shaped device that’s inserted into the vagina like a tampon in order to 'catch' your flow. They provide a comfortable, safe, odourless and eco-friendly way to manage your menstrual cycle. Menstrual cups are made from hospital-grade silicone and are chemical, latex and BPA-free, making them completely safe, reusable and long-lasting. Plus, being able to use your cup for several years means BIG savings on sanitary products for you and much less waste for Mother Earth. Menstrual cups also help you avoid the irritation or dryness that can be associated with disposable pads and tampons. Once the cup is in, you barely feel or notice it at all except for the soft stem which sits just inside the entrance of your vagina.

Menstrual cups come in various different styles and sizes and choosing which is right for you depends on factors such as the length of your cervix, how heavy your flow is, the strength of your pelvic floor muscles, and whether or not you’ve given birth vaginally.

While many women are interested in using a cup and reaping its benefits, some are a little hesitant to do so. They fear their flow might be too heavy while others worry that the process of insertion and removal is daunting or too messy. A menstrual cup is my personal first choice, they've been found to actually reduce flow and while I agree removal can initially be a bit fiddly, I rate them highly and would never go back to tampons.

2) Menstrual Discs

Menstrual discs are a little newer than menstrual cups but they're similar in that they collect blood rather than absorb it and they can stay inside for up to 12 hours. A menstrual cup differs however in that it stays in place through light suction whereas the disc sits comfortably higher up in the vaginal canal, behind your pelvic bone, right under the cervix. Some people find them a little more challenging to insert and remove but they’re known for being able to handle heavy flow really well. Moreover, and maybe the best bit is that they can remain inside during penetrative sex.

The big downside? They’re disposable, making them not so eco-friendly nor as cost-effective as a cup.

3) Period Underwear

Period undies come with a built-in menstrual pad made of three different fabric layers. They’re intended to be worn daily while menstruating but some people also like to wear them in addition to tampons, pads, cups or discs, as a backup during heavier flow days.

​The pros of period undies are that they’re washable, re-usable and they look and feel just like normal underwear. Nowadays most brands even sell period swimwear and they all offer different types for those with heavier vs lighter flow. Being so highly absorbent and leak-proof, undies can be worn for up to 12 hours. When you notice blood is staying on the surface of the undies it’s a sign they need to be changed but this is something you get used to predicting ahead of time once you've been using them a while. The cons of period undies are that you’ll need to soak or rinse them in cold water before throwing them in the wash with your other things. It’s also important to be aware of the fact that they absorb blood so, like a pad so you may want to change them more frequently to avoid smell or infection.

4) Re-usable Pads

Re-usable cloth pads are a great option for people who like traditional sanitary options and/or for those who aren’t keen on using a product they have to insert. The concept of a reusable cloth pad is the same as a single-use disposable pad. They come in different sizes and absorbency levels and sit in the same place in your undies but instead of staying in place with a sticky bit, they have wings with tiny buttons that snap together on the outside.

The benefit of these undies is that they last, they're eco-friendly and people are less reactive to the material which means no itch and no rash. They also tend to smell less than regular pads and can have more absorbent capacities than the disposable kind. Plus they're much more comfortable - usually made with organic cotton or bamboo.

The downside is that you'll need to carry a wet bag with you if you need to change them while out and about and like period undies you’ll need to wash them by hand or rinse them before throwing them in your usual wash. It’s also best to air dry them as the dryer may cause shrinkage.

Did you enjoy this article? Share it with your friends and let's make our monthly cycle as easy and as eco-friendly as possible.



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