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How to pick the best menstrual product for your own needs10 min read

May 31, 2021 6 min read

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How to pick the best menstrual product for your own needs10 min read

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Hello, menstruators! Owliver has called in an expert to help him help you. Artika Singh, a Menstrual & Sexual Health Educator, has come to tell you about all the products that can soak up your –totally clean– menstrual blood. She’s got a whole list filled with pros and cons. So, take it all in and make the choice that’s best for you.

Don’t know anything or enough about menstruation? Don’t worry. Click on the image below to find out more.

Artika Says..

Artika Singh. Image: her own

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably just started your period. And that’s great because this is a lovely time to begin menstruating. The market is brimming with so many different period products from which you can choose. When I was growing up, I only had access to disposable pads and, later on, tampons.

You’re probably bursting with questions at this point, and choosing a product can be very confusing.

So, let me break it all down for you.

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There are two main categories of menstrual products: Disposable products and non-disposable products. Disposable products are those which you chuck in the bin straight after you use them. On the other hand, non-disposable products are ones that you can wash and reuse.

Disposable Products

So, let’s start by talking about disposable products. Every time you use disposable products, you create waste. So, when you’re choosing a disposable product, remember to ask yourself: what’s going to happen to this product once I’ve chucked it in the bin?

Pads

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Plastic Pads

The first disposable product available to us is the plastic pad. It comes wrapped in plastic and can be stuck onto your underwear. These pads are easy to use but are packed with plastic and harmful chemicals. A single plastic sanitary pad takes about 800 years to biodegrade!!

Another problem with it is that all the chemicals in the pad can cause skin rashes and irritation. So, even though the plastic pad is the easiest to find and cheaper than some other options, go through the list and see if there is anything else that can work better for you.

Stores are packed with plenty of safe brands that you can choose from. Some of these are: Stayfree and Whisper

Organic Pads

The next disposable option you have is organic pads. Organic pads are almost identical to plastic pads in the way that they work. Much like plastic pads, you stick these absorbent products to your underwear. These pads are made without the use of chemicals or plastic and therefore can easily and quickly decompose. They are generally made of bamboo fibres, organic cotton or cornstarch.

Unfortunately, these pads are slightly more expensive than plastic pads.

Remember: Make sure you check the label of these pads before you buy them. If the product is not 100% organic, these pads will probably also cause long-term waste. Also, the chemicals in them could cause rashes and irritation.

Organic pad brands that Artika recommends: Peesafe and The Woman’s Company


Tampons

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The second category of disposable products is tampons. These are small finger-like absorbant cylinders that you can insert into your vagina (the hole in your genitals from where the blood is being expelled). These can be painful or scary when you’re younger, but if you’re comfortable with using them, then why not?

Some people can’t insert tampons into the vagina at all.

Over time you’ll learn that like some people, you may find it uncomfortable or painful to use tampons- but don’t worry- because there are so many other products you can choose from!

Non-biodegradable tampons

Much like pads, these ones have chemicals. So, they could cause rashes and irritation and stick around dirtying the planet for hundreds of years once they’ve been used.

There are several non-biodegradable tampons available in the market.

Biodegradable tampons

These are made out of organic cotton and are absolutely safe to use. They can also be easily managed as biodegradable waste once you throw them.

You must change or clean all period products every three to four hours, as otherwise, you could risk getting infections and rashes.

Biodegradable pad brands that Artika recommends: Peesafe.


Non-Disposable Products

Now, let’s talk about the products you keep around. These products stay tucked away in your cupboards after each cycle of menstruation. You have to make sure to keep these products clean and dry, as you constantly use them around or in sensitive parts of your body.

Re-usable cotton cloth pads

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The way that you use these pads is very similar to the usual disposable pads. Instead of sticking them to your underwear, they have a velcro or tich button that helps you fasten them to your underwear. These pads are made of six or seven layers of cotton, followed by one waterproof layer that prevents you from staining your clothes.

You can use these pads for up to five years. This means you can keep rewashing and reusing these pads for all your menstrual cycles that occur over five years. That’s absolutely no period waste from you for five whole years!

For one cycle, you will need about six to seven cloth pads. This is so that you have enough to use while the others are being washed and dried. You need to change these pads every four or five hours as after that, they could become moist and cause you some discomfort.

While these pads are safe to use and don’t cause waste or discomfort, some people feel uncomfortable washing them after they’ve bled into them. So, you can buy just one cloth pad at first to see if it works for you.

Cotton Pad brands that Artika recommends: Ecofemme and My Avni.


Menstrual cup

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A menstrual cup is a silicone cup that you can insert into your vagina, and it collects your blood. You simply have to wash the cup (make sure you use a mild, non-scented soap when you wash it) every time you use it. You can use these for up to 8 years!! That means you’ll generate no waste for 8 years. These cups are made of a very safe form of medically safe silicon, so you don’t have to worry about an infection or rash.

Much like tampons, menstrual cups can be painful or scary when you’re younger, but if you’re comfortable with using them, then why not?

Some people can’t insert a menstrual cup into the vagina at all.

Over time you’ll learn that like some people, you may find it uncomfortable or painful to use the Menstrual Cup- but don’t worry- because there are so many other products you can choose from!

Menstrual Cup brands that Artika recommends: Peesafe, Avni, and Sirona


Period panty

This is just underwear that you can wear, and it has cloth within it to soak up the blood. Some say that this product is not very comfortable, but others say it’s not bad at all. So, at the end of the day, it’s up to you. Use it if you like it, and junk it if you don’t.

Period Panty brands that Artika recommends: SochGreen

You must change or clean all period products every three to four hours, as otherwise, you could risk getting infections and rashes.

Ultimately when it comes to period products, what’s most important is that you are comfortable and safe. You don’t need to feel pressure to save the environment at the cost of your own comfort and safety.

There are so many products for many periods that are yet to come, so try as many as you want, and pick what you’re comfortable with.

Author’s Note: Artika is a Menstrual & Sexual Health Educator. She is also the founder of Taarini Foundation, a non profit organisation working in the space of Menstrual and Sexuality Health Education.

Artika Singh. Image: Her own
Taarini Foundation | LinkedIn
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