CW: Period talk which gets pretty candid. Not for the squeamish.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll have seen my talking about switching to reusable period products in the beginning of 2020. I’m making changes to be more sustainable in my life, trying to do my bit to fight the climate crisis.
Seeing how generic pads and tampons usually end up in our oceans and harming marine life (and of course, the ever growing problem of microplastics) I wanted to switch up my products. Not everyone can and that’s totally fine, but I could and I wanted to change. I invested in a menstrual cup from Mooncup and reusable cloth pads from a small business called Naturally Lady.
It’s been around 14 months now. So, how has it been?
A YEAR OF LEARNING
Turning to new period products, especially reusables, can mean some trial and error. I find it’s best to do some research beforehand. YouTube videos on people’s first hand experiences are a good resource.
I’ve had accidents, I’ve had leaks, but once finding what works for me, I’ve settled into a good routine. I found that the punch fold (or tulip fold as it’s sometimes known) is the best fold for me to insert my menstrual cup.
I will need a little extra help sometimes, especially towards the end of my cycle, so will use my trusty WB lube by The Yes Yes company to help with insertion. Emptying out the cup I find best done in the shower, but if you can’t, make sure to have some tissue to hand and be careful as you don’t want to spill blood everywhere.
I still feel like I’ve only just got the hang of properly using the cup, feeling much more comfortable than when I first started. Cleaning and sterilisation is easy for both pads and cup, and I don’t have to worry about chemicals and glues (as can be the case with regular tampons and pads).
I’ve said before and I’ll say again: my cloth pads are immensely more comfortable than generic ones. Feeling the soft material is much better for me, as my previous go-to Always, used to rub like crazy towards the end of my cycle or if I was moving around a lot.
The pads attach with popper buttons on the wings, rather than adhesive, making it easy to put on and remove. However, at times a ‘tail’ can happen, where the front or the back can slip out from the underwear, especially if you have larger with more absorbancy for heavy periods (similar to night-time pads). So make sure your underwear is nice and snug to keep the slippage to a minimum.
WHAT ABOUT ‘THE SMELL?’
Listen, if we’re going to talk periods, that means getting candid about a lot of things. So if you’re squeamish, feel free to move on to one of my other posts, no judgement.
Anyone who has a period knows about the distinct scent that can come with it, often finding that generic pads or tampons can exacerbate it, making us feel even more self-conscious than we already are at our time of the month.
When I tried organic cotton pads and tampons before taking the plunge into reusables, I almost immediately noticed less of a scent as opposed to when using generic pads etc. like my former go-to brand Always. When using cloth and cup as of now, I’d say even more so. Hardly any scent par a period’s natural scent, which isn’t anywhere near as noticeable with these products.
CLOTH PADS: WOULDN’T RECOMMEND WITH EXERCISE
This I say about the cloth pads. The cup is great to use during exercise, similar to a tampon. However the cloth pads, as comfortable as they are, are prone to moving a bit as they secure with popper buttons rather than an adhesive.
However, with strenuous exercise, even with yoga, I’ve found mine are prone to moving. But I’m in the house, so I don’t have embarrassing cases in public right now. But readjusting regularly when trying to work out can be annoying.
I am considering purchasing some medium size pads for less of this and for more variety. I’m torn between that and, when I am able to, splashing out on some period underwear by Thinx.
They have now released underwear with period protection that can hold up to five tampons’ worth of blood. So for someone with heavy periods and likes extra protection with my cup, I think this might be a good investment for me. Especially if I’m doing exercise outside, with some cloth pads in my bag when I exercise outside for those ‘just in case’ moments.
WOULD I RECOMMEND?
I’m always a little unsure about this, as every body, its needs and of course, accessibility, is different. Would I recommend to someone wanting to try it? Sure! Try it and see what you think.
But keep in mind: it’s important to read up before you take the plunge. It’s not advised to use a menstrual cup if you have an IUD fitted, as the suction of the cup can suction it out. Cloth pads might not be for you if you’re an athlete or a dancer for instance. Disability can play a major factor and I don’t wish to be part of any ableism or eco-ableism when talking about these products.
I personally won’t go back to disposables unless I have to. I’m really liking what I’ve got so far and looking forward to perhaps trying period underwear in the future, to add my low waste period protection.