Ladies Only: Cups, Undies and More
Ladies only. Seriously, if you are male, this is your last chance to get out. Spoiler alert: this post is about “that time of the month.” A topic that is decidedly taboo to discuss. Granted, I’m not talking about being sent to an insolated menstruation tent, so it’s all relative, but I wonder why women don’t talk more openly about something that happens to them so often. There are some different products you may have seen advertised recently and, in this post, I’ll provide a review.
I was 12 when “Lady Flow” first visited me, and I thought I was dying. I was certain that the blood I was seeing meant that my internal organs were next. Well, I didn’t die, and my mother gave me some guidance: tampons and pads. I kept using the same brands my mother did for a few decades. Then I decided to mix everything up a few months, ahem, cycles back.
Each month, maxi pads with plastic lining or tampons with plastic applicators are used and then thrown away. Then there’s the absorbent part. Water intensive and bleached cotton. The cardboard applicators made of trees. The paper or plastic individually wrapping each item so that they can be further boxed, shipped and purchased by you. All single use. Every. Single. Month.
The “Resources for Curious Minds” section at the bottom of the page has some great links that make far more compelling arguments to ditch traditional feminine hygiene products. For example, the Glamour Magazine article points out that a woman will use over 11,000 disposable feminine hygiene products in her lifetime and the Huffington Post article notes that the inorganic materials used can take between 500 to 800 years to decompose.
You might have seen adds for reusable alternatives. Cups or discs made of silicone that you rinse out after each use and sanitise once a month. Or reusable cloth pads and period-proof underwear.
Reusable period underwear. These are pretty amazing. Whether you use Modibody or Thinx, these are terrific. They’re comfortable, come in various “flow” intensities and are practical. They fit well and are a great for nighttime too.
Reusable pads. They feel a bit like a diaper. The reusable part is great, but the fact they shift around and feel like I shoved a sock down my underpants is less appealing. Let’s leave the whole “sock in your pants” thing for comedy sketches. Since I can’t exactly give these to a charity shop, I will continue to use them, albeit begrudgingly.
Menstrual cups. Tulip and Diva Cup are popular brands. They take some getting used to from a comfort standpoint, and you need to make sure you’ll be near a bathroom with a sink IN it at some point in the day. Anywhere with bathroom stalls are dreaded when using a cup. Nothing like coming out of a bathroom stall, only to rush over to the sink because you look like you just finished performing a ritual animal sacrifice in your stall.
Flat menstrual cups/discs. Same issues as the cups regarding the practicalities of ensuring you have access to a sink to wash your hands. I am guessing these are less popular because I see fewer of them in stores and being advertised. Placement is a little tricker, but I find them a bit more comfortable.
Sanitation. The underpants and pads need to hang dry. They wash up well, but I do find that keeping my personal items separated from the household laundry in my otherwise all male household is a must. Some of the cups come with microwave steam sterilisers. Get one! I didn’t, and now I regret it. I now have a kitchen pot hidden in the basement that I pull out once a month for the glamorous task of sterilising my cup on the stove.
So that’s it. I tackled the taboo. Good luck next month ladies!
Resources for Curious Minds
Five Ways to Make Your Period Better for the Environment (Huffington Post)
The Ecological Impact Of Feminine Hygiene Products (Harvard Business School)