And there it comes again: your period. And again and again. If they don’t use hormonal contraception, women menstruate around 500 times in their life. Most of them use sanitary pads and tampons. However, these popular products can have some disadvantages. Like allergic reactions. An ever increasing pile of trash (about 13,000 menstrual products per woman in a lifetime). A dent in your budget (premium brands sanitary towels and tampons aren’t cheap). All these are reasons to consider alternatives. Here’s a list.
These panties have a secret weapon: different layers to prevent leakage. Whether or not you can get away with just wearing leakproof underwear, depends of course on your flow. Not sure if you can wear them solo – without a (sponge) tampon, menstrual cup or pad? Try them first on one of the lighter days.
PRO They look and feel just like regular undies: comfortable and cute. You can choose from a broad variety of styles and cuts – from thongs, bikini briefs and hipsters to boyshorts. You can even find period panties for swimming. Since you reuse them, they can help you to reduce your ecological footprint.
CON You have to wash them. Changing period panties on the road (at work, at school) can be a chellange. Where do you leave the used one? (Spoiler: in a sealed bag, just like you do with washable pads, duh.)
They can be bought in all sizes and brands and with the weirdest designs. Most of the pads have a water repellent layer to prevent leaking. Push-buttons are used to keep the sanitary pad in place.
PRO Seeing as you can reuse them, you only have to buy a supply once. That’s good for your budget and for the environment. If they’re made of the right material (unbleached cotton), they’re free from toxins and bleach. Also, they are extremely soft.
CON You have to wash them. And because they don’t have an adhesive strip they could move a bit.
Menstrual cups are flexible cups that are worn inside. They catch the blood instead of absorbing it. There are two kinds: reusable and single use cups. The ones that are meant for single use could be sterilised or washed with a special washing powder.
PRO You wear them inside, so you don’t see a thing. That’s convenient in the sauna and during exercise. They can be kept in for up to 12 hours. Some disposable cups even allow you to have sex with your partner when wearing it. Because no oxygen gets to the menstrual blood, there are no unpleasant odours.
CON Unless you’re an expert at it, removing a full cup can get pretty messy.
Women have been using sea sponges as internal tampons since ancient times. The real sea sponges are made from the remains of naturally occurring organisms: primitive multicellular animals living on the bottom of the sea.
PRO After using (you can keep them in for 4-6 hours) you rinse them and they’re ready to use again. One sea sponge will last for about 6 months.
CON You only wash them with water, so it’s not that hygienic. Removing can be a challenge. However, there are also natural seasponges with a string.
Soft tampons (disposable sponges)
Soft tampons are disposable sponges, or tampons without a string, made of flexible and absorbing foam-like material.
PRO You wear the sponge inside, so you don’t see or notice it. That makes it the ideal product for visiting the sauna, having sex and doing exercise. They can be kept in for up to 8 hours.
CON Sponges are more expensive than normal tampons. Removing them can sometimes be tricky, so don’t insert them too deep the first time. And you need to throw them away.
Yes, washable tampons exist as well. They are cloths made of unbleached cotton and with a string attached. They can be bought in several sizes, but you could also order a pattern and stitch your own. Just roll them up and insert like a normal tampon.
PRO you can reuse them.
CON You have to wash them. The absorbency decreases after time.