Reusables: what are my options?
A quick look at reusable period products, so you know what the best option is for you.
Reusables are great because they always work out cheaper in the long run than constantly stocking up on disposables each month. With proper care and cleaning, they’ll see you through 10 years of menstruation! Reusables also greatly reduce the amount of single-use plastics you consume, making them a planet-friendly choice too.
There’s a few different options on the market, so I’ve grouped together The Big Three to give you a good idea of what’s out there to try.
The sustainable OG. The period product which kept our sisters of yore happy and dry for millennia. I’m the proud owner of two reusable pads and I’m totally convinced by them.
There’s various types, shapes and sizes on the market to suit different needs. Reusable pads are all simple to use: just pop into your underwear (literally, they snap shut with poppers) and off you go. After 8 hours you just swap it out, fold it back into a little square and when you’re ready, wash at 40 degrees. Bam. Then we’re talking rinse and repeat for 10 years.
They’re a great choice as they’re made of breathable cotton. Honestly, it’s way more comfortable to have a piece of cotton cloth between your legs than a synthetic, plastic-y wedge. My reusable pads have never aggravated razor rash like disposables used to so that’s a huge plus. Cute designs are also a big plus for me - I will always choose pads with cats or cameo print on them over boring old white.
The big sister to reusable pads - just bleed straight into your knicky-knacky-noos. They’re wearable period protection, cleverly made with thin layers of super absorbent material.
A huge advantage with period panties is how discreet they are. Whilst I’m not embarrassed to be seen taking a pad/cup into the bathroom with me, I’m incredibly privileged to be able to do so. For various reasons, it’s unfortunately unsafe for some people to be identified as menstruating. Period undies offer a great solution for this - you don’t have to take anything with you into the bathroom, or have any other products with you in your bag.
For our heavy bleeders out there, it might be necessary to swap into a fresh pair throughout the day. However, if you’re using them as back up with a cup, tampons, or just to catch the dregs at the end your period, then you should be able to wear them exactly like any other piece of underwear.
For me, the cup is the mother of all reusables. If you’re unsure what a menstrual cup is, it’s a flexible, egg-cup-type-thing, made of silicone, which is inserted into the vagina and collects the flow (as opposed to absorbing like a tampon). It sits much lower in the vagina than a tampon, and doesn’t have any external parts like a string for removal. You just reach in, grab and wiggle when it’s time to empty it out. After a quick rinse it’s ready to go right back where it came from. At the end of your period, you boil it for 10 mins and put it away until next month.
They’re available in different colours and capacities, and nowadays there’s a whole range of forms with different ‘stems’ on them. This means it’s absolutely realistic that you’ll find one which suits your vagina.
A cup can also be left in for up to 12 hours. Obviously this depends a bit on your flow, but one cup usually holds the same flow as 3 tampons, and there’s no associated risk with TSS. This means you can be out and about for an entire day and not worry about changing your period product until it’s nearly bedtime again. Another big plus point is that a cup won’t dry out your vagina. Because a cup isn’t absorbent, it won’t soak up any of the healthy discharge your vagina produces in the same way a tampon does. This is great if you’re familiar with that ‘birthing a tampon’ feeling, or being super dry after using tampons.
*Reusable pads, underwear and menstrual cups are all available directly from www.ditchtherag.com. All profits from our sales are put straight back into the organisation, to fund the fight against period poverty. So when you buy through us, you’re also providing someone in need with 10 years of plastic-free period products, as well as vital education about the menstrual cycle.*
Author; Maria Bennett
Ditch The Rag Donation Manager