Monday, October 5, 2020

8 Terrific Reasons that Reusable Period Products Are Better than Disposables


They either make you feel like you're wearing a diaper or cause you to constantly check for leaks. 

At times they dry you out. 

Discomfort is a constant companion. 

Disposable period products are, as a whole, a complete tragedy, and yet we still use them. Fortunately, there are better options if you're willing to try them. Menstrual cups, cloth pads, and period panties are a few excellent examples.

a gift box with menstrual cup, cloth pad, and cervical cup inside
Photo by Vanessa Ramirez from Pexels

Back in 2012 I talked about my introduction to cloth pads. I loved them at first, because they were comfy, super-absorbent, and cute. Over time, though, they faded, becoming much less cute, and became less comfortable, as well.

But that was over 8 years ago.

Thankfully, today's reusable period products have come a long way. But what exactly makes them so much better?

1. They produce significantly less waste than their disposable counterparts.

To quote an article called Planet-Friendly Periods from Stanford Magazine, 

"In the United States alone, approximately 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are discarded each year." 

 That's a significant load of trash clogging our landfills, but reusable period products are a great way to decrease it. 

Menstrual cups, for example, last up to 10 years. This means that since a woman generally has 38 years

worth of periods, she only needs to buy 4 cups during her entire life. 

Cloth pads are another reusable product to consider. On average, they last up to 5 years if you use solely pads for your period. If you use another method as well, the lifespan increases.

2. No more plastic touching your sensitive bits.

Most brands of pads and tampons contain a small amount of plastic. Particularly, you can find polyethylene and propylene. Even that string used to remove a tampon contains plastic. 

If you didn't know that, don't worry. Most people don't. Neither did I. 

In fact, I ran to my bathroom to grab the remaining box of tampons that I had saved in the cabinet for... well, a very long time... and read the ingredient list.

Ingredients in english and french showing polyethylene and polypropylene
And this brand doesn't use a plastic applicator!


Pads are even worse: roughly 90% of a pad is composed of plastic. Cloth pads, on the other hand, can be bamboo, cotton, or hemp. Use what you choose. And a good silicone cup is another great non-plastic choice. I use Saalt brand, but there are many others, as well.

3. Cheaper over time than disposable products.

It's true that the initial cost of around $20 can feel overwhelming. You're used to spending around $7 for a box of tampons. However, the costs balance out after just 3 months. For the other 117 months of a menstrual cup's lifespan you end up saving money.

These savings are true for cloth pads, as well. I bought a ten-pack of the smaller pads so that I could use them on light flow days, because using a menstrual cup for a teaspoon or two of fluid seems like overkill. This cost me only $10. 

That means that I average about $4 per year for period products over time($2 for the cup, $2 for the pads)... far less than if I chose disposables. This is true even though I'm buying double the necessary amount by using 2 different types of period products.

4. An end to waddling and chafing for that one week every month.

Those disposable pads seriously suck the moisture right out of you. They're uncomfortable, thick, and over time can cause an itching or burning sensation. If you use a super-absorbent pad, you're essentially sticking a gigantic pillow covered with a plastic mesh bag between your legs.

Nobody wants that.

And tampons? Try removing one of those things within a couple of hours of when you applied it.

No, I take that back. DON'T. The sensation is agonizing. Again, they wick far more moisture than is necessary, and with painful results.

Reusable cloth, however, is soft and absorbent, but not so absorbent that you feel like you'll never be comfortable again. 

And a menstrual cup? There is no sucking of the moisture from your vaginal cavity walls. It collects only what it needs to. No more, and no less.

5. You have multiple choices both in type and composition

As previously stated, You have many fabric choices with menstrual pads. There are different sizes, as well. 

Do you want bamboo fleece with a textured topper, size large? You can find that. A great place to learn more about cloth pad fabric composition is the clothpads website.

There are also different menstrual cup shapes, sizes, and compositions.  Besides medical grade silicone, you can also find elastomer (a material that has elastic properties) and latex. Some cups are long and skinny, some are short and fat, and some of them are a mix of the two. You can even find them in different colors!

6. No more cotton bits irritating your vaginal cavity.

We've all seen the recalls. Many times, bits of cotton remain behind after removing a tampon, leaving you with irritated vaginal walls. You end up suffering a burning redness in silence, because talking about your reproductive system is a ridiculous taboo in our culture.

Menstrual cups, however, don't contain any fabric bits of any sort, which means that tampon irritation is a thing of the past.

7. Lower risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome

According to an article from Healthline about the risks associated with menstrual cups, 

"TSS as a result of tampon use is rare. It's even more rare when using menstrual cups." 

In fact, at the time this article was written and reviewed (March 27, 2019), only one instance of TSS had ever been reported. 

8. Reusable pads are cute.

You have multiple designs to choose from, or you can just go with a basic unicolor choice. 

Some people scoff at this reason, claiming they don't need pretty period products, but my view is different. I prefer to do what makes me happy, and if happy means wearing primary color swirls in my pants, then you know what?

gray bamboo inner and swirls of color on the outer portion of a reusable pad
Because we all deserve to swirl on

Swirl on, I say. Swirl on.

With so many reasons to choose from, is there any reason not to give up disposables and start on the path to a sustainable future? Reusable period products are a simple and cost effective way to feel better, both physically and emotionally. 

Challenge yourself to say goodbye to the old, expensive, wasteful days, and welcome in a new, cost-effective, and sustainable tomorrow.

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