When your period arrives, you probably reach for your pad or tampon without thinking twice. It’s been about 70 years since the invention of disposable tampons and sanitary pads, and we’re still using the same feminine products on the market! Sure, we’ve come a long way since the ’70s, where our mothers and aunts were still wearing belts to keep their pads in place (adhesive pads weren’t invented yet). But there are lesser-known options out there that are more comfortable, convenient and eco-friendly. Some of them have even been around for ages! If you’re sick of spending a fortune on new products each month, here are 5 alternatives to conventional pads and tampons that you can consider.
1) Menstrual Cups
If you experience heavy periods, the menstrual cup will be your new best friend.
It’s a silicone cup you fold and insert into the vagina, where it opens up and collects menstrual fluid. You then remove, rinse, and re-insert as and when required.
Most cups can hold about 25-30ml of menstrual fluid at a time, so you don’t have to visit the toilet to empty your cup as frequently. In fact, you can wear the cup for up to 12 hours. Inserted correctly, you practically don’t feel it up there at all, and some people even forget they’re on their periods.
There is a slight learning curve to using the menstrual cup, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be wondering why you didn’t get one earlier! A good-quality menstrual cup from a reputable brand costs about $50 in Singapore, but can be used for years if you take proper care of it. No more having to “restock” your pads and tampons every month!
2) Reusable Cloth Pads
If you’re still unsure about menstrual cups, reusable cloth pads are another alternative.
Made of breathable fabrics, they are much more comfortable than disposable pads, but just as absorbent! Most cloth pads also have a waterproof backing, so you don’t leak through your underwear or clothes.
They also come in a variety of sizes, shapes and even patterns from different brands, so you’re bound to find one that suits you. The pretty designs on the fabrics are way cuter than traditional pads, and will definitely make you feel better about having your period!
Although cloth pads have to be washed between cycles, it’s really not as inconvenient as you think. There are lots of YouTube tutorials sharing easy, fuss-free ways to wash cloth pads.
3) Sea Sponge Tampons
Sustainably harvested sea sponges, which are super absorbent, can be used to absorb menstrual fluid. They’re inserted like a tampon, and are removed every few hours, rinsed, and reinserted.
You can also wear more than 1 sponge at the same time if you have a heavy flow! As they are absorbent, we wouldn’t recommend wearing them for too long (unlike a menstrual cup).
One cool benefit about the sea sponge tampon is that they’re great for mess-free period sex, since it’s worn higher up in the vagina and is soft and squishy. They have to be replaced every 3 to 6 months.
4) Period Panties
Period panties have been around for a while, but recently exploded in popularity with Thinx Underwear. Basically, they are underwear with absorbent layers built right into the lining.
They’re no longer the granny panties of yesteryear; these underwear come in athletic styles or even sexy lingerie! Period panties come with different absorbencies, just like pads do. Many people also use them as “back-up” for menstrual cups or tampons.
5) Free Bleeding
Free bleeding, as the name suggests, is to not use any sanitary protection during your period. Because of hygiene reasons, it is best not to free bleed when in public as it could leave bloodstains on surfaces like chairs and sofas.
People with light flow and short periods have reported positive experiences free bleeding at home, with some of them managing even with normal underwear. Others lay a towel down on surfaces they sit on in case of stains. Although free bleeding is a liberating experience, many tend to react negatively as menstruation is still largely seen as a taboo.
With so many choices out there, why not try a different way to manage your periods if you’re sick of the conventional pads and tampons? So many women we’ve talked to swear they’ll never go back to disposable pads and tampons. Who knows, it might change your life too! 🙂
If you’re ready to try an alternative menstrual product, you can purchase menstrual cups, reusable cloth pads and sea sponge tampons in Singapore from LiveLoveLuna. Orders above $30 are entitled to free local shipping.
Use code “LLL5OFF” for $5 off any menstrual cup, valid till 31 Dec 2016!
Ann Gee is the founder of LiveLoveLuna. LiveLoveLuna is an eco-friendly business based in Singapore, specialising in reusable menstrual products - menstrual cups, reusable cloth pads and sea sponge tampons. We aim to be the leading menstruation resource for women in Singapore and Asia, and facilitate open discussion on the topic of menstruation without any feelings of embarrassment, awkwardness and shame. No one should be ashamed of saying "I'm on my period".