Alternatives to the pad (sanitary towel)
Whether you’ve recently started getting your period, or had it for some time, there’s one thing we all know: your period can be a major annoyance. From the cramps, to mood swings and worse still, having to spend money and effort on sanitary pads and tampons.
Most of us start out using sanitary pads from day one and sometimes even move up to tampons after a while. Yes, pads are available everywhere and are easy to use, but let’s be honest, after a while they can get uncomfortable and sometimes even smell bad, especially on hot days or when you have a heavy flow.
Tampons, on the other hand, are more comfortable after you get used to them, and allow to you take part in activities like swimming when you’re on your period. The downside of both is not only are they expensive in the long run (all those packets add up) they’re also bad for the environment, creating more waste every month.
The good news is there are alternatives which are safe for you and good for the environment, but also economical:
Cloth pads (not regular pads, but pads made of cloth)
Many women choose to go old-school and use cloths to absorb the flow during their period. A lot of the cloth pads are shaped like actual pads but are not as uncomfortable. This method is economical and environmentally friendly, but it can get a bit messy if you have a heavy flow, and you will need to wash the cloth. They can also be difficult to find. You would probably need to buy them online at stores such as Subpadz and Hannahpad.
Flushable pads and panty-liners
These can be flushed so are much better for the environment, but you’re still going to have to buy them regularly. They are also hard to find in stores.
One of the best alternatives to the pad I’ve discovered so far is the menstrual cup. A menstrual cup is a silicone or rubber cup which your insert into the vagina to collect your period blood rather than absorb it like a tampon does. I know, it sounds a bit weird, but trust me Choma, after you get used to it, it’s amazing. Here are some of the pros and cons to help you decide if a menstrual cup is for you:
Pros of the menstrual cup
Because the cup is reusable (there are some disposable varieties, check carefully what type you’re getting) you’re contributing to less landfill waste and doing your part for the environment.
You’ll be saving loads of money by not having to buy pads or tampons each month, the menstrual cup saves you money in the long run. With proper care, the menstrual cup can last you five to ten years Choma. Some cups need to be replaced every year, so it really depends on the type of cup you're using.
Gentler on the body
Unlike tampons which absorb the vaginal fluid as well as the blood, the menstrual cup is gentler on your body. You also have less chance of developing Toxic Shock Syndrome (a bacterial infection sometimes associated with using absorbent tampons which throw off your body’s internal bacteria)
You could leave it in for up to ten hours. Unless you have a heavy flow, you don’t have to change the menstrual cup as often as you would change a pad or tampon. Most people only rinse their menstrual cup two to three times a day.
Because the blood doesn’t come into contact with the air, there’s less chance of an embarrassing smell.
Cons of the menstrual cup
Can be awkward
Some women struggle with it at first. Thankfully, it gets easier to use with experience. Remember how weird tampons were the first few times you used them?
Messy at first
Again, this takes a bit of getting used to. Unlike a tampon which you just remove and throw away, a menstrual cup must be taken out, the blood thrown into the toilet and then rinsed before putting it back in. Some people find this embarrassing in public restrooms.
After your period cycle is over, you need to sterilize your menstrual cup in boiling water or a solution used for baby’s bottles.
Once you get used to it, though, you can’t imagine using anything else. Even sports legend, Caster Semenya believes in them so much that she’s partnered with PrincessD cups to raise money to provide menstrual cups to girls in poor and rural areas, helping them stay in school over their period time.
What do you think Choma? Would you use a menstrual cup? Are you using one already? Tell me in the comments below.
Remember, you can talk to me about anything. If you have a question about the menstrual cup (or anything else) you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657)
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