I’m not sure how relevant this post is to all my male followers but if you have women in your lives using traditional menstrual products such as sanitary napkins and tampons, read on to help them choose better for themselves and the environment.
When I started menstruating my mom handed me a packet of sanitary napkins and without questioning I kept using them for years. Over the last 2-3 years with more consciousness around being sustainable – I have been thinking about exploring other products and I finally did. I ordered a menstrual cup and a period panty to use during my last cycle. This is going to be a detailed post skip to the section you want to read.
- WHY WE NEED ALTERNATE MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS
- ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS
- PERSONAL BENEFITS
- MY EXPERIENCE OF USING A PERIOD PANTY
- MY EXPERIENCE USING A MENSTRUAL CUP
WHY WE NEED ALTERNATE MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS:
- Sanitary napkins and tampons use a lot of plastic that are hard to decompose. A sanitary napkin can take anywhere between 500-800 years to decompose. An average woman uses 15 napkins per cycle which means 15 napkins*12 cycles*40 years = 7200 napkins in a lifetime! Can you imagine the plastic lineage that you’d be leaving behind for years after you’re gone from Earth?
- A menstrual cup can be reused for 10 years and though the cup cannot be decomposed it can be recycled and reused.
- A period panty is made of bamboo so it is biodegradable and can be reused for atleast 2 years (upto 5 years is what I’ve read but I’d recommend 2 -2.5 years) depending on how well you take care of them.
- I hate sanitary napkins. I’ve tried 4-5 brands and they all rash me up real bad. The material and gel on sanitary napkins just don’t work for me.
- Plus travelling while using a napkin/tampon is such a pain – you need to keep changing every few hours. Long flights are especially uncomfortable – since I avoid using the flight washroom.
- Both the menstrual cup and period panty are far more economical considering they can be reused for a couple of years.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH USING ALTERNATE MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS –
Period panties are just like regular panties. They don’t feel very different while wearing them. Infact their appearance made me doubt whether they would even work! I used the period panty overnight on the first day of my cycle (heaviest flow). I woke up the next morning half afraid but the panties work 100%. As long as you buy a panty that fits you properly there is no leakage whatsoever.
- They work 100% – no leakage, no stains
- They’re more economical than napkins and tampons (atleast in India)
- They are biodegradable
- They can be used for 10-12 hours at a stretch without needing to be washed – so long flights, overnight are sorted. (Some sites say that you can use them for 24 hours but I’d only recommend that for very light flow days)
- They can be reused for 2-3 years
- No bad odour
- Extremely comfortable and no rashes
- Easy to carry while travelling & can be used during non-period days too like a regular panty
- The biggest disadvantage is having to hand wash the panty after use. As someone, who has found washing off stains icky, washing the panty was definitely a task but I think after 2-3 washes I was more comfortable with doing it.
- Finding the right size is important as to make the panty 100% leak proof it needs to fit perfectly to stop leakage. This may take some trials with different panty sizes.
- Also while it will be awesome to use while travelling, washing them after reaching your hotel/hostel/destination might be a pain.
- Order 1 period panty, try it out in the night during one cycle. See if it works for you and your flow. I’m guessing different brands will work differently. Try it out before you commit to it.
- Read multiple reviews before you buy it – some are shams!
- Definitely choose dark coloured period panties over light coloured ones.
Verdict: 100% YAY! This definitely works and I’d definitely recommend it to for all women. I am so glad that I’ve found an alternate product to sanitary napkins. If you are done with sanitary napkins/tampons and want to be more sustainable in your ways – this product should definitely be in your cart!
Menstrual cups are conical cups made of silicon with a small tip to help insert and remove the cup. They can be inserted like tampons and through the day get filled with menstrual blood. Whenever you’re using the washroom, you can empty the cup, wash it with water and reinsert it. The cups come in various sizes depending upon your age and flow you can pick the cup that best suits you. For beginners I will definitely recommend using a small or medium size and sizing up once you’re more used to it and see the need for a bigger cup. To be honest, my experience with menstrual cups wasn’t the easiest. I haven’t used tampons ever and hence, I found using the cup quite difficult. But I saw a lot of videos and reviews where women have claimed it gets easier with each use. I found insertion and figuring out whether the cup is in place or not quite tough the first 2 times I tried. I finally figured it out on third day but was too afraid to leave the cup in for too long (mental block). I’m going to try it a few times more before giving a final verdict on the cup but I think once you get used to inserting it and not overthinking about having it inside you, it would definitely be a great menstrual product. I have researched extensively on the cups and most women have given rave reviews of the product. I’m assuming it’s easier for women who have been using tampons.
- Way more economical than napkins/tampons since you can reuse the cup for 10 years
- Can be worn for long, as long as it takes for the cup to fill. On an average you’ll need to clean your cup every 8 hours.
- Easy to carry one cup than carry 15 napkins/tampons
- Easy to clean – you just need to boil it in water for 20mins at the beginning and end of your cycle. Through the cycle you just need to rinse it with water before each use. There are also washes that come that you can use to clean them.
- 100% leak proof – no more stains
- No rashes
- Freedom to go a long time without requiring a cleaning
- Freedom to partake in water sports
- It is possible to have sex while wearing the cup
- Getting used to inserting it and being comfortable with it
- Cleaning it in a public washroom with no access to water may be problematic
- Cleaning it might also be icky for some people
- It is recommended to remove the cup while taking a dump (I’ve researched this extensively)
- Sanitizing the cup before using while travelling could be an issue
- If the cup isn’t sanitized properly it could lead to bacterial growth on it
- Be patient while trying the cup out, most users didn’t get it right the first few times.
- Read extensively about the cup and cup folds to figure out what works for you
- Definitely sanitize your cup before using it and make sure to keep it clean (buy a wash)
- Store the menstrual cup in a cotton bag to keep it clean
- Be careful while removing it to make sure you don’t make a mess, again watch videos to understand how to remove it
- While its possible to have sex while using the cup, again please research and watch videos before you try it
Verdict: 75% YAY! I still want to try it out over the next few cycles before I give it a 100% YAY. It is definitely tougher than using a period panty. But from reviews I read, one just needs to get used to it. If you are a tampon user, definitely move to the cup.
I had fun (yes, fun) exploring these alternate options. I am slowly looking for sustainable alternates for all products I use. My aim as of now is to be 50% more sustainable than I have been. I urge you to also join me in trying to be sustainable. I completely understand that it can be tough but we should all do our bit to save our planet and there are some easy ways to be sustainable too. I’m linking my other blogs on sustainable living below, definitely give them a read.
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