Menstrual Cups, Period Panties, Organic Tampons, Oh My!
Check these out! There are so many new ways to help you manage your periods!
I recently learned about a product called period panties. Period panties work by absorbing the liquid away from the body. They are comfy and a great alternative to pads. And they are environmentally safe because they are reusable – just throw them in the washing machine. Period panties are not bulky like you might expect and come in a lot of different styles from thong to full coverage. They hold up to 4 tampons worth of blood depending on the brand and style. You can even wear them with tampons for extra protection. I have heard great things about these from friends who are using them. Recently the brand Thinx was recommended to me. Modibodi, another brand that makes period undies, also makes a swimsuit bikini bottom! Talk about game changer! If you are looking for other reusable options for pads, they do make reusable pads or cloth pads that you wear with the underwear you current use. They do appear a little bulkier but still a great option if you prefer to change them more often.
A year ago, I got lost at target and ended up coming home with organic tampons. I was curious to learn what the hype was about. I’ve since switched to Cora tampons and love them. Organic tampons typically made of 100% organic cotton are bleached with peroxide, whereas regular tampons are made of rayon and/or non-organic cotton and bleached with chlorine. Interestingly, when tampons are bleached with chlorine it creates dioxin as a byproduct. Dioxin is a carcinogen, a substance that can cause cancer, and possible hormone disruptor. The FDA monitors dioxin levels so it’s not something to worry about and if you are using regular tampons it is believed to be safe. Organic tampons do not reduce your risk of TSS toxic shock syndrome so make sure you still change your tampon every 6-8 hours.
- Using a water based lubricant to insert the tampon. Great for lighter flow days or if you are feeling dry
- Make sure you insert the tampon further up than you think. You want to make sure that the end is not sticking out because as it starts expanding that can be extremely uncomfortable
A newer product I’ve learned about is menstrual cups and flex disc. These products are inserted into your vagina and collect the menstrual flow. The easiest thing to compare them to is the diaphragm or cap used for contraceptives. What is awesome is you can leave both in for 12 hours and there is no to minimal risk of developing TSS because it is collecting the menstrual flow rather than absorbing it like tampons. If you have an IUD, I encourage you to talk to your doctor first, however there was an article published in 2012 that shows there is no evidence that women using menstrual cups had higher rates of early IUD expulsion. One benefit of these products is that some can be worn during sex and some brands claim you cannot feel it. Talk about a great alternative for period sex. Another benefit of these is that they are not going to dry the vagina like tampons since they are not absorbing.
Let’s talk more about menstrual cups. Menstrual cups are reusable and usually made of rubber or silicone. IF you have a latex allergy make sure the one you choose is latex free. There are lots of different styles, some are firm, some are soft; there are great quizzes that can help you pick the right one. A lot of my friends are using the menstrual cups and what I am hearings is they are having a decrease in cramps, menstrual flow, and odor. Also, some of them prefer to empty in the shower because it can be messy.
Some of the things to consider when choosing a menstrual cup: 1) the height of the cervix: can you touch your cervix when you insert a finger, is it after 1 knuckle, 2 or not at all, 2) Have you had a child? That can affect the strength of your pelvic floor muscles, 3) How heavy is your flow?
Menstrual Cup Tips:
- Using a water based lubricant to insert it.
- Make sure you are caring for it properly so using a good cleaner is important.
Menstrual discs are not reusable, they are single use. These are made of polymers and do not take up space in the vaginal canal the way a cup does.
Periods are expensive. Hopefully, these alternative options can help decrease cost and provide more protection and confidence during your period. At the end of the day it comes down to preference. There are tons of options; try a couple and see what works best for you.