6 Reasons why reusable menstrual products are here to suck it up with us
The COVID-19 period is likely to be one of the most difficult times we have had to go through, both individually, and as a global community. Never in recent times have we felt this restricted in things we could do or places we could go. But despite these challenges, life still goes on and there's no escaping from monthly periods. They may sometimes be difficult to bear (consider checking with a doctor if it's severe), but is a normal processes women go through, and there should be no stigma or embarrassment associated with it. But what happens when you run out of disposable pads and tampons only to realise that the shelves in the supermarket have all been swiped clean?
"Every time my period comes, I rejoice in the fact that my body is functioning correctly."
Free bleeding may be empowering but it's not quite a modern option if we want to get things done at home. Thankfully really clever people have engineered reusable materials that help us remain out and about with our busy lives during this time of the month. There are period cups, period underwear and reusable pads that exist, but have you heard about them before?
I've previously been skeptical about them myself, and with the hustle and bustle of life, I found myself reluctant to make the change, but when I read this post from The Period Co I figured it was time to give it a try. I've been a pad user all my life, and tampons never worked for me, so I naturally picked out period underwear and cloth pads over period cups. (Maybe I'll try cups in the future, but I'm pretty happy with the other options I already have!) The transition was such a breeze for me, but having said that, I understand that no period is the same, and your requirements will be different from mine. I will not assume the switch would be as easy for me as it is for you, but I'll share my experience with you so you can make an informed decision about switching to reusables!
"Periods are not too gross, too weird or too inappropriate to talk about."
Every period is different
I started out having my period at 15 and have flows that lasted 3-4 days each time. I am a light-moderate bleeder and have a regular but slightly longer cycle of 32-35 days. I used to have cramps more frequently when I was younger but now, with better diet discipline I would only have it on the first day and possibly the day before. Cold drinks are a big factor that would cause cramps and I would avoid it during the few days before and during the period. If I had cramps, they would last 30min - 1hr in the mornings and I would be fine for the rest of the day. I typically change 3 pads on the day of my heaviest flow (plus one more for the night).
So with that in mind, what I needed in a menstrual product was something that would be comfortable, yet sufficient for my flow rate. Period cups were not necessary in my case because most period underwear would be more than enough to manage my flow, on the heaviest day I would change it once during the day. However my advice is that if you have heavier flows that require more pad/tampon changes through the day, the cup may work better for you because not everyone can carry around extra period underwear for changing. Now that you know alot more about my cycle than my own doctor, it's time to get into telling you why I'm such a fan of period underwear!
Here are my top 6 reasons why I will be staying with period underwear and reusable pads from now on:
1. No more sticky sensation
Disposable pads contain plastic because they could engineer it to be absorbent yet lightweight. However in hot and humid conditions, it tends to generate a lot of sweat around the pubic area, causing it to feel sticky and uncomfortable. Reusables made of organic cotton or wool blends allow better ventilation reducing this uncomfortable sticky sensation especially when you already have to deal with the blood. The Modibodi Underwear in particular has a Patent pending Modifier Technology™ layer that allows the inner surface to moisture wick and feel dry despite absorbing all that fluid. This comfortable sensation is unrivaled with any other pad I've used in my life.
2. No more rash/itch associated with plastic contact
Disposable pads contain up to 90% plastic, with the average pad containing as much plastic as four carrier bags.
Even the absorbent core itself is frequently made of plastic because it could be engineered to be lightweight yet super absorbent. However because plastic is a petrochemical derivative, there are other chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates which are problematic chemicals that can affect not only our skin (with allergies and contact dermatitis) but also affect our hormones and disrupt endocrine functions. Wearing pads in the past while i exercised also used to give me rashes due to the plastic friction against the skin, but this doesn't happen anymore with reusables!
3. No more toxins
Common tampons and pads contain bleached and non-organic cotton, rayon, wood pulp, or a combination of these materials. Bleached products tend to have a by-product called dioxin which is a toxic environmental pollutant that has multiple impacts on the immune system, reproductive organs and is also a carcinogen. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) describes the risk of adverse effects from dioxins in tampons as “negligible", there is a potential cumulative effect of the toxin with multiple exposures especially in areas rich in blood vessels (ie. the inner vaginal wall). In addition to dioxin, non-organic cotton and rayon can also contain pesticides and herbicides including diuron, a suspected carcinogen. This is a risk I'm not comfortable to take so I'm back to unbleached, and as much as possible, organic materials!
4. No more leaks
The Modibodi underwear I've been using has liquid tight margins around the gusset which prevent the flow from going down the sides or along the back. This is so much better than pads which had plastic wings that were not absorbent and sometimes caused leaks that would stay on the sides.
The absorbent cores in these reusables are firmly fused and sewn to other parts of the underwear/pad and does not clump up like the materials in disposable ones, so the blood stays where it needs to, even through the night and while exercising. This gives me a peace of mind and also makes it an ease to wash!
5. Monetary savings in the long run
Reusables always have a higher upfront fee because they're designed to be made to last. But in the long run, even the most expensive reusable options may end up being cheaper than depending on reusables for your entire life. Here's a breakdown of the average costs done by Seedly.sg:
I'm pretty bad at crunching numbers but it's pretty clear to me that reusables are the much more wallet friendly option available, if you buy them and actually do use them! Personally, I'm happy to be paying slightly more as well if the reusable options are more comfortable and reassures me that there are no toxic chemicals or plastic bits directly in contact with my skin.
6. Contributing less to waste generation
With reusable menstrual products, I was delighted to find myself keeping away from binning anything at all! Pads and tampons are always wrapped up in so much plastic (for sanitary reasons) and cutting them out really helps to reduce your waste. Studies in the United States have shown that in a single menstruating lifetime (avg 40 years), women may use between 5,000 - 15,000 disposable menstrual products with a vast majority ending up in landfills as plastic waste. In Singapore, this ends up on our one and only Semakau Landfill after going through incineration. With our landfill running out of space, we're against the clock to reduce our waste.
If I've convinced you to read up more on reusable menstrual products, head over to The Period Co to do more research about the options you have here in Singapore! I hope these reusable options will be more widely available in the future so more women can make informed decisions on how to deal with their periods and most of all be introduced to other more comfortable and safer options for their bodies.
Do comment below if you've tried out any reusables and let me know what your favourite type is! Stay home and stay comfortable and stay safe during this period!
Reproduced with permission from Curiously Green.
Original article here: https://www.curiously-green.com/post/the-most-comfortable-period-ever