This is definitely a post for the ladies at that time of the month! How do you make sure you are covered for your monthly period needs?This is a really honest and frank article here, so apologies from the start if this isn’t usually something you are used to reading or hearing about. And if I haven’t lost you yet, good stuff!Given all the recent press globally for the movement to #passonoplastic and more and more people moving towards a #zerowastelifestyle, increasing numbers of women are looking again at what they use for that time of the month.

There are so many options now for reusable sanitary products, almost going back to how it used to be before the convenience of disposables.I have definitely seen so many more open and honest posts from women on social media recently, sharing the alternative products they are using, and I find it quite refreshing, and I really respect them for being so honest (about a subject which I think can still be a little bit taboo).So this is a tricky one for me….at the minute, I have an implant which helps with my migraines (I now have NONE!!) But, this also means I don’t get a period.But if / when that changes, I want to make better choices than I did in the past when I did rely on both pads and non-applicator tampons. This is simply a “look at the options and consider what is out there” post ☺Much of this information has come, not from my first-hand knowledge (as admitted above), but from the research I have undertaken and from discussions with friends who have also recently made these changes. However, I can say, that surprisingly, more and more people I know are making these changes, and loving them!

Option 1: Cloth Sanitary Pads (CSP)

There are lots of different brands available, they come in a range of shapes, lengths, materials, absorbency, but ultimately they are reusable pads made with beautifully pretty fabric and an absorbent layer.They are used in a similar way to regular pads, but I am reliably informed that they are so much nicer and prettier to use.They contain no chemicals unlike disposable pads, and many who use these claim to have shorter, less discharge volume and fewer cramps from their periods which they credit to the chemical free nature of these.In terms of use, it is possible to use for a range of requirements (types of flows, post-partum, as well as liners etc), as well as being able to use them whether you are at home or out and about. You can buy discrete pouches for both unused and used pads storage, making it easier to transport them about.In terms of what to do once you have used it, there are clear washing instructions for both the wet and dry treatments and many of the makers will give you their advice.Generally after rinsing initially, they can be washed in the washing machine, ready for next use. Many of the makers of these pads are small cottage style industries; they are work at home mums (WAHM’s) who have developed the styles and businesses around their family lives.Many have established private Facebook groups which enable discrete discussions that would be public if not conducted within a group. Many host weekly markets through their Facebook pages where they sell the premade pads while others offer customs. In terms of prices, they range from approx. £6 upwards depending on the length and absorbency.

Option 2: Moon or Diva Cups (WTF IS A MOON CUP?!)

These cups are discrete, soft silicone and are insertable.These are small cups you pop inside to collect discharge but they don’t collect any excess water. They are considered to be more hygienic than other sanitary products and can surprisingly last all day while inserted.menstrual cupsFriends who use these have said recently they have almost ‘revolutionised’ their periods! The Diva Cup can accommodate 30ml at a time (consider an average cycle is between 30-60mls) so that’s pretty good going.It also eliminates any menstrual odour which occurs when it is exposed to air and because the cup is internal, it doesn’t allow any.Owing to its positioning, it doesn’t need to come out to wee, and it shouldn’t interfere with any contraceptive devices which might also be inserted.At approx. £18, it is a very affordable option given the uses many get from them and over the course of their life, can result in money saving compared to the cost of  tampons for example.I would try this and while it might be better if I had access to a private toilet with sink during the day when out of the house, I have some reassurances that they can last, leakproof, all day which would encourage me to try one. Post use, the cup can be washed either by using warm water and soap, or by boiling for 5-10 minutes in preparation for its next use.

Option 3 – Natural Sponges

You pop in the little ethically harvested sea sponge which absorbs discharge. They are both reusable and biodegradable and used as a natural tampon alternative.It is expected that one sponge could last between 3-6 months with correct care. Having read mixed reviews for these, I am not sure this would be one I would want to try but thought I would share it as an option just in case it appealed to someone!

Option 4 – Period Pants

These are something I have become aware of only recently. I’m not sure how I would feel about these, although they might come in handy for those days when you are expecting your period and you don’t want to get caught out.They may also be quite good for younger girls getting to grips with the various options out there for them. There are several companies that have developed these. They hold up to 20 mls which is the equivalent to 4 tampons, and could last up to 8 hours on light days, 4-6 hours on the heavier days or nights.One brand, Wuka, is made with 4 layers including an absorbent layer with anti-bacterial properties. These could also be useful for the start and end of a period.

So, there you have it, a summary of some of the more eco-friendly options out there for that time of the month.I have friends who use CSPs and Moon Cups and all rave about them. I find the private, dedicated Facebook groups are wonderful places of support, and members are very willing to share both their personal experience, and will happily open any questions (regardless of the level of detail you are seeking!)Friends who now use CSPs are really happy with their switches and regret not having made that switch years ago. It is amazing how for such a modern world, many are going back to how things used to be!As part of this research, I am not, and have not said there is anything wrong with conventional products – they are well established, work for many ladies globally and ultimately replaced the old fashioned reusable pads way back in the day.I have used them myself for many years, however, for those people who might want to make a switch, whether it be to reduce chemicals or reduce waste produced by using pads or tampons, perhaps some of this information could prove helpful.I now have my fab CSPs to try out (when required!) and I will look at alternatives options, because when you look at the statistics for the numbers of tampons (average number of tampons per cycle is 11-30, resulting in a lifetime use of between 5,000 – 14,000) and pads that are thrown away, it really is disturbing and eye opening.

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