What do you think about tampons and pads?
A necessary evil? Kind of uncomfortable? Or just inevitable, so what are you going to do about it?
But what if there are alternatives?
This week I’ve been talking about getting to know our bodies better, and I thought it was time to talk about the way we handle our periods.
Femallay is an awesome company that’s decided to partner with me, and they approached me to talk to you all about some of their products that make sex easier and more fun–like their flavoured vaginal suppositories that help with lubrication. But when I took a look around their website, I was actually really excited about their menstrual products, too, and I thought that I’d talk about those, even before we talk about lubrication (which is a good thing, too!)
So let me tell you about my journey with reusable menstrual products.
It all started in 2007 when we were getting ready to head over to Kenya again as a family, to visit the Mulli Children’s Family. This is an awesome Kenyan-run children’s home, where about 800 minors live full-time (and the home also supports hundreds of graduates, giving tuition to higher education, jobs, and more). Anyway, one of their big problems was menstrual products. They cost the same in Kenya as they do here, even though the average wage is so much lower. So you can imagine how much money they’d have to shell out every month to keep hundreds of girls and female staff members supplied with menstrual products!
So I got a group of women together and we started making reusable cloth pads. They’re super easy–flannel on top, fleece on the bottom, towelling or other material on the inside (you can even use old raincoats cut up!). We had a couple of big sewing parties at my house, and took about a thousand over with us next time we went.
And sewing (here’s my mother-in-law!):
Until we had a bunch done.
Then we took them to Kenya with us with tons of material so they could make them, too:
It honestly was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.
Reusable Cloth Pads Make Your Period More Fun
But while I was doing that, I started to notice: when you can use your own flannel, they’re kind of cute. And they’re soft. And I hated that “plastic” feel of regular pads. So I thought, what if I could wear them, too?
(Here’s where this post may start getting in to the Too Much Information category. Sorry! 🙂 ).
So I started using some of my own, but then I had great fun shopping online for ones with different patterns and with different construction (we just made rectangles, and some with wings. But you can buy them with inserts and all kinds of fun things!).
And I started wearing them, and let me tell you–I would never, EVER, EVER go back. When we’re in the RV I tend to use disposables again, and I HATE it. I get rashes. It feels scratchy. But these always feel soft. And they’re not that hard to clean, either. I just stick them in a big plastic container with a lid with cold water (and I throw in some baking soda and essential oils sometimes, too, but not always), and then you just dump the water and throw them in the washing machine, and they come out great. It really is very easy.
Disposable pads can have harsh chemicals in them, and bleaches, and like we were talking about on Monday with women who have recurrent yeast infections–often these products are the cause. But you can get organic cotton material or microfibre or all kinds of great natural fabrics in cloth pads that won’t irritate you at all.
Femallay has such cute pads, too!
And when you have cute ones that look pretty, somehow your period doesn’t seem so dreaded anymore.
And you can make such a cute little kit for a little girl who is just getting her first period, too! She could have disposables for school if she really wanted, but comfy, cute ones for home! Check them out at Femallay.
But that’s not all the reusable menstrual products you can use, either. Menstrual cups are great, too! For reasons that would seriously be TMI I’m not going to tell you why I don’t use them, but Rebecca, my oldest daughter, swears by them. So I’m going to let her explain them.
What are they?
A menstrual cup is a reusable silicone product that goes inside your vagina and collects all your menstrual fluids. You simply remove the cup, dump the contents in the toilet, clean it off, and then re-insert it and you’re good to go.
The menstrual cups (pictured to the right) are inserted so that the opening is facing up–the little knob on the bottom will be near the opening of the vagina so that it’s easier for you to remove the cup. You insert it by folding the cup, inserting it like a tampon, and then allowing it to open up either by wiggling it or turning it until it’s in place.
There are pros and cons to the menstrual cup like with any other kind of product.
Here are some of the things to consider:
- Con: These can be psychologically uncomfortable for some women. If you’re squeamish about putting your fingers “up there,” this may take a while to get used to, or else maybe use Femallay’s reusable pads instead, as they don’t require insertion. For those of you who aren’t as uncomfortable with the idea, though, these are an amazing product.
- Con: There can be leaking. However, if there is leaking that simply means it’s been inserted incorrectly. When you’ve gotten the hang of it, the leaking stops. If you haven’t inserted your cup correctly, causing it to not open fully, some blood can leak out the side. The simple solution is to wear a panty-liner or a pad for the first few months along with your menstrual cup until you have fully learned how to insert it so it properly opens up, creating the seal that doesn’t allow any fluid to escape!
- Pro: These are super cheap! You only need one menstrual cup, and they can last for years! (It’s recommended to replace them every 3 years). That’s only $10 a year! That’s like the cost for one period for many women when you’re using disposable products.
- Pro: It makes you feel like you’re wearing nothing at all. Although the insertion aspect may make some women uncomfortable, the silicone completely moulds to your body and it feels like you don’t have anything down there at all! I’ve always hated wearing pads or tampons because I didn’t like how bulky pads were, or the little string of tampons. I found it uncomfortable. Having a cup is amazing, because I don’t feel like there’s anything down there I need to be careful about.
- Pro: You only need to change it twice a day! Seriously, this is one of my favourite parts. I change it in the morning, when I wake up, and then in the evening before I go to bed. And that’s it! When I use tampons, to reduce risk of leaking I had to change ever 3-4 hours.
- Pro: No toxic shock syndrome. With tampons you have the risk of bacterial infection, but not with these guys! Knowing girls who have forgotten about a tampon overnight and needed to go to the hospital, this is a major plus for me. This also means you can sleep with these in!
- Pro: No having to awkwardly dispose of a tampon at a friend’s house. Or have friends accidentally see tampons or pads in your garbage can. It’s easy to simply empty your cup before you leave the house and then you don’t need to worry about it for hours!
- Pro: Easy to clean. All you have to do is rinse them whenever you empty the contents, and then after your period simply wash it with a mild, unscented soap and periodically boil it when there is any discoloration. Then just store it in a cotton bag so it has plenty of air circulation. That’s seriously it!
You can see them at Femallay!
Sea Sponge Tampons
There are also sea sponge tampons that you can use, that are also reusable, and super easy to use (wet to soften, insert, then take out, rinse, and use again!). And they come in different sizes, too, so virgins or teens can try them as well.
You Don’t Have to Be a Hostage to the Drug Store for Your Period
There really are alternatives that aren’t plastic and that aren’t harsh and that aren’t scratchy. And they’re so much cheaper in the long run, too!
Everyone I know who uses a cup says they would never, ever go back. I can attest that I would never go back to regular pads again, and I wish I had found them twenty years earlier.
So let’s talk in the comments: anyone else use reusable menstrual products? What are your favourites?