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What eco-friendly period product should I choose?

With so many promising options out there it is definitely not an easy decision to make. That´s why this blog post might be useful for you to know what period product would suit you best!

Reusable Pads

So you are thinking of using cloth pads. If you have used disposable pads before the this is a less daunting option since the dynamic is mostly the same. You place the pad in your underwear and after around 4 hours you change it. The main change would be getting used to cleaning them. Each brand has different recommendations for their product, make sure to follow them so that your pads last as long as possible. Also, each brand has a specific pad for different flows, for example if your flow is heavy, they might have a large pad that can hold more flow than usual. Now let´s get into details… The following information is provided by the website cloth pads, check them out here.

How to place them

Just like your usual disposable pad, reusable pads usually have velcro, press-studs or buttons instead of wings to stay in place. For a more comfortable experience use underwear that is snug-fitting, it doesn´t have to be tight but it will be better for the pad not to move around. There are wingless pads that feature textured fabric backing or fleece that keeps it in place. If this last one seems quite risky for you, start by using the ones with wings.

Duration & Absorption

The cloth pad should be changed like a disposable one, around 4 hours but this depends on your flow too, on days that it’s light to medium you might use and change your pads less. Also, make sure to buy pads that suit your flow, you could buy a couple of ¨heavy¨or ¨overnight¨ pads and another couple of pads made for a lighter flow or liners. Here´s an absorbency test made by the brand Hannah pad and their pads. Each brand should specify how much their pads absorb or even show it like in this video. Don´t be afraid to make questions to brands, make sure that the period product they offer will keep you comfortable during your period.

Cleaning

There are different ways to approach this. When you change your pad, you can pop the used pad into a bucket of water to soak and put on a fresh pad. Or you may like to rinse out your pad straight away (or leave it as it is) and put it in the washing basket to add to your next load of washing, or even hand wash straight away. Then when you are ready, wash and hang the pad out to dry. Cloth pads can be hand washed or machine washed (depending on your preference or the manufacturer’s- instructions). If they are soaked or rinsed out straight away (in cold water) they should be less likely to stain. If the pad is allowed to dry out before washing it is more likely to stain. Lastly, make sure you are following the recommendations of the brand to make sure that you are taking proper care of your pads. Here Hannah Pad shows the way to clean their pads.

Stains

If you properly clean and don´t leave your used cloth pads to dry for a long time, there shouldn’t be stains on your pads. You can always use a stain remover but make sure that is one that doesn’t feature harmful or strong chemicals since it can damage or reduce the lifespan of the pad. Make sure to follow the recommendations of the brand you purchase the pad from. Another good option is buying lack cloth pads so that if any stains appear you don´t worry about them.

Lifespan

Depends on the quality of the pad and the brand. Each brand might guarantee a different lifespan. Usually, it is about 4 to 5 years. This is why the pads might seem quite expensive at the start, but the use you get out of them pays off and can be even cheaper than regular disposable pads on the long run.

Starting kit

To start you could buy around 6 pads, from 12 to 20 would be more convenient in case you don´t wash or dry the pads on time. If it feels quite daunting to buy that many pads, buy one or a couple of pads and complement with your usual period product. A gradual change might be a good option for you if this feels quite new still.

Extra products

Apart from getting your set of pads, you don’t need anything else to get started ut there are some products that might make cleaning easier like a stain remover or your experience overall better like a wetbag to store your clean and used pads for when you are outside home

FAQS

Find common questions people make about cloth pads here, some of your doubts or worries might be clarified there.

Menstrual Cup

The following info is provided by the amazing team of Put A Cup In It

How does a menstrual cup work?

Simply, it collects menstrual flow rather than absorbing it.

Cleaning

Because they are made of non-abortive materials, menstrual cups can be safely washed and reused. Cup manufacturers often make specialty washes, but any non-toxic and unscented soap will do. Simply wash, thoroughly rinse, and insert. Between washes, the cup can be sanitized by boiling it.

How do you use it?

One of the magical things about the menstrual cup is the length of time you can wear them. Because they don’t absorb any fluids and do not contain any fibers that allow bacteria to grow against the cervix (which is how tampons carry an increased risk of causing Toxic Shock Syndrome), they can be safely worn for up to 12 hours.

New cup users generally need (as with anything) a bit of a learning period. Give yourself a few cycles to get comfortable with insertion, removal, and cleaning. You may choose to wear a liner for backup protection until you do.

To insert the cup, wash it, flick off the excess water, fold it in half (there are more folds, but this is a simple one to start), and insert and give it a turn to be sure that the cup is fully open. If the cup isn’t fully open, you can turn it more or run a finger alongside it to help it open. Once you get the hang of insertion, it really is a quick process.

If you need the cup to go higher, you may be able to give it a gentle push upward, perhaps bearing down a bit as well. If you find that the stem is bothersome, you can simply trim it or cut it off. The cup works perfectly with or without the stem!

To remove the cup, bear down, grab the bottom of the cup (the stem can be helpful to coax the cup down if you have a high cervix), and then gently remove it, being careful not to spill the contents. Once it is out, just dump it into the toilet, wash, and reinsert.

How do I wash it when I’m away from home?

Again, the beauty of the cup is that it can be worn for up to 12 hours. Chances are you won’t have to change it while you’re at school, work, or running errands. If you happen to need to empty it, you can choose a single stall with a sink and wash as usual, or choose the ‘wipe method’ — remove, wipe with a clean tissue or cup wipe, and reinsert. Wash your cup normally when you return home or have a private restroom. That’s it!

Can I ask a few TMI questions?

The intimate nature and novelty of menstrual cups usually inspires many questions, which is totally normal. We have selected a few of our favorites here to help ease your mind before you take the plunge.

Can you feel it inside you? Does it hurt? The answer to both is “you shouldn’t.” When worn, and inserted correctly, your menstrual cup should be 100 percent undetectable and unnoticed. Many often forget they’re wearing one! If insertion is uncomfortable or painful try smaller folds like the labia fold.

Does it smell? Can anyone tell I’m wearing one? No! Menstrual fluid only begins to have an odor when it meets oxygen. Worn internally, no one, not even you, should detect any odors. Others have asked if you can hear the blood “sloshing” inside — no! Unlike tampons, there are no strings either. Not a soul will know you’re wearing one but you.

I’ve never had penetrative sex and/or consider myself to be a “virgin”. Can I use a cup? Yes. Age and sexual experience has nothing to do with the type of period protection that you choose. It’s all about what you feel comfortable with! Not to mention that virginity is a social construct, but we won’t get into that here.

Can you have penetrative sex with it in? Not really, but oral is fair play. The cup is worn below your cervix and the cup itself is about 1.5 inches long. The average vaginal canal is 3 to 4 inches long, and though it does lengthen when aroused, and some cervixes are higher than that, we do not recommend traditional penetrative sex with a cup in. We won’t say it’s impossible, but a menstrual disc would be a much better choice, or you can opt for external methods until your vagina is unoccupied.

Can menstrual cups be worn for postpartum bleeding? No. This is an absolute no! You should only use pads (we recommend cloth) for postpartum bleeding. Using tampons or cups is not a good idea for many reasons — risk of infection being the biggest safety concern.

Where do I buy a cup, and what one do I choose?

The menstrual cup comparison by Put A Cup In It is a great way to explore all of the options and the menstrual cup quiz can help you narrow down the choices to find a cup that will work best for you. Also if you are looking for a specific brand already, there are many reviews here to help you out!

Period Underwear

Last but ot least. Period underwear. Just like your average underwear is just that the materials and technology that these undies feature makes it possible to absorb your flow and keep you feeling dry and comfortable during your period.

How period panties work

Period underwear consist of an absorbent material that holds one to two tampons’ worth of flow, a moisture barrier to keep you comfortable, and a layer designed to prevent any leaks or staining. Still hesitant to make the switch and entrust your flow completely to underwear? Many users first start with lighter flow days or using their period underwear as backup protection before graduating to full-time use.

Why make the switch to period underwear?

Beyond the comfort factor and leak-proofing, period panties are also gaining popularity as both an ecologically sustainable and economically smart choice. Try them if you’re looking for a solution less irritating than tampons, more comfortable than sanitary pads, and less messy than using a menstrual cup. And with period panties, you’re always ready: No more frantic late-night tampon runs to the corner store.

Can you wear period underwear all day?

Depending on what type of period underwear you have and where you are in your cycle, you might be able to wear a pair of period underwear all day. You can usually buy heavy, medium, or light flow versions of most period underwear. If you wear period underwear as extra protection on your heavy days (with a tampon or menstrual cup), it’ll be easier to wear the underwear all day. On light days, it’s likely you’d only need one pair of underwear to last the day.

Period underwear pointers
Finding the right fit

No need to worry about looking like you’re wearing the equivalent of an adult diaper; most brands offer two sizes to meet your lighter or heavier flow needs. They’re also offered in a wide variety of colors and cuts, from ultra femme, lacy thongs to more gender-neutral boy shorts. If you’re looking for a bikini-style panty, Sustain has a selection of sizes in chic black organic cotton. Want to swim? RubyLove offers a period-protection swimwear line. For the younger set, Thinx have specifically tween- and teen-designed period panties in a selection of smaller sizes and fun colors.

How many pairs of period underwear do I need?

If you’re first trying them out, you’ll probably want several pairs to replace your traditional period products on your lighter days. If you decide to commit, you’ll likely want a full five- to seven-day set depending on the length of your flow, so you’re not laundering every other day. You can also consider a sleep-specific pair or two: If you want to sleep worry-free, look for a cut that fits a little more snug (go for stretchy fabrics) with extra coverage for side and rear leak protection.

How to care for period underwear
Step 1: Soak

After you remove your period panties, drop them in cold water to soak or rinse them.

Step 2: Wash

If machine washing, first place them in a washable mesh bag and wash on the delicate or gentle cycle. To make your underwear last, consider hand-washing with a mild detergent.

Step 3: Dry

Do not put in dryer. Instead, lay underwear flat or hang dry to help maintain the fabric’s integrity.

Step 4: Treat

Worried about stains or lingering smells? Period undies are designed to be stain-resistant and shouldn’t retain a scent if cared for properly, but you can soak them in vinegar/water mixture prior to laundering, too.

Period underwear tips & tricks

Is period underwear a solution for my leaky bladder? Generally, no, although Thinx has developed Speax, a line specifically for bladder protection.

Can I use period underwear for postpartum bleeding? Yes. During the initial postpartum period, you may want to pair them with pads.

Can I swim in period panties? You can find period swimwear specifically designed for this. In general, though, you’re best using a cup and saving your period panties for dry land.

The valuable information featured here about period underwear is by The Grove, find more here: https://www.grove.co/blog/period-underwear-guide

And that´s pretty much it, do you have more questions or would like to know more about a specific period product? Let us know in the comments!

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