Periods were overwhelming when we first got it as teens, and that it's hard to change your habits about period care. Fortunately, there’s a seemingly never-ending array of products for you to find your perfect fit!
With more and more sustainable and affordable options hitting the shelves, it can be daunting to decide what to try. That's why we’re gonna help you get in the know of what you can use and how they all work so that you feel comfortable during your flow season.
This is a judgement-free zone - what works for your mates may not work for you. That’s why we’re gonna break down exactly what each product is and does.
Tampons are one of the most well-known and widely used menstrual products. Tampons are disposable products with a cylindrical shape made of cotton, rayon, or a combination of the two.
If your body tolerates tampons well you shouldn't be able to feel them. Once inserted, it shouldn't cause any discomfort. Tampons allow you to participate in activities like swimming the same way you would normally, and they are easy and convenient to transport.
Now - there’s a bit of an elephant in the room here. There is the possibility of toxic shock syndrome [TSS] if you use tampons, which can be life-threatening. However, most of these risks are mitigated by using less absorbent tampons and changing them more frequently. Tampons should be changed every four to eight hours, according to the Family Planning.
Pads are the most popular menstrual product and are made of natural or synthetic fibres including cotton or rayon. Sanitary pads also come in a variety of thicknesses, depending on your flow.
You wear a sanitary pad externally - stuck to the inside of your underwear - which is a big difference from tampons. One major benefit: you don't have to worry about getting toxic shock syndrome, which makes them a great alternative to tampons.
One of the biggest downsides of sanitary pads is the ongoing expense. A box of sanitary pads may cost between $6 to $10, depending on the number of pads and absorbency. You may have to replace your sanitary pad every few hours—which, like tampons, creates a lot of waste.
If you need to change your pads multiple times throughout the day finding a place for reusable pads during a regular day out and about makes it a less convenient option. However, if you're keen on wearing them at home or can go long periods of time without needing to change, they can be a convenient and affordable option - not to mention better for the environment!
The pads are made of various materials. Fleece is absorbent, and companies are investigating the use of alternative fabrics to reduce odours, such as hemp, bamboo, or material infused with activated charcoal. If your skin is easily irritated, or if you're just getting started, we recommend using 100 per cent unbleached cotton.
Period underwear absorbs blood without leaving you damp and does not transfer it to your clothes. It's an excellent place to start.
Most period underwear isn't cheap, but you'll save money in the long run by not having to buy as many one-use tampons or pads. Begin with one pair to see what styles you like; eventually, you'll be able to get enough to last your entire cycle and you'll be away laughing!
When purchasing a pair, it's important to take into consideration how heavy your flow is. There's loads of styles and flow options to choose from so make sure to find which will suit your cycle the best.
For some people it might not be a viable option, or only at the beginning and end of their cycle.
Tampons and pads require frequent changing and are harmful to the environment because they are designed to be disposed of after a few hours. Menstrual cups, on the other hand, are reusable, long-lasting silicone cups designed to hold blood and prevent leaks. Buy it once and it can last for several years. There is still a period of adjustment, so try it on days where you'll be at home, you may need to try several before you find your perfect fit.
To use a menstrual cup, fold it (there are a few ways to do this) and insert it into your vagina. Feel around to ensure that it fully unfolds and forms a seal. When you're ready to remove it, gently pinch the base of the cup to break the seal—don't worry, if you're wearing the appropriate cup and it's properly inserted, it shouldn't feel uncomfortable to take out.
Most menstrual cups can stay in for 12 hours, depending on your flow, so you can go an entire workday without having to empty it (no need to rush to the bathroom to replace it!).
Cleaning isn't too much of a hassel either. According to Lunette NZ, "boiling your cup for 20 minutes between each menstrual cycle to keep it fresh and clean".
If you dislike the suction sensation that comes with removing traditional menstrual cups. The disc is shallower, but it works in the same way. Menstrual discs sit further back into the vagina, allowing for you to still be able to have penetrative sex while using them.
Put a Cup In It is a great resource for helping you determine which menstrual cup/ disk might be best suited for you!
There you have it, the guide to big wide world of menstural products. No go forth and feel protected and proud during your next flow week.