Having your period should not interfere with your everyday life. There are a range of products to keep you feeling comfortable and dry; which one you choose is entirely up to you. There are several factors to consider which can help you narrow your choice, such as what activity you will be doing, the cost of the product, convenience of use and the product’s impact on the environment. To help you make your decision we’ve outlined the pros and cons below.
These are cotton pads that stick to your underwear to soak up blood, and which you throw away after use. They come in many different shapes and types of absorbency (the amount of blood they can soak up). Pads should never be flushed down the toilet, but instead rolled up in some toilet paper and disposed of in a sanitary bin by the toilet.
Cost: Packs range between $2 - $8, depending on type, brand and number of pads per pack.
Pros: Easy to use, pads can be purchased at any supermarket and pharmacy, as well as most dairies and small convenience stores.
Cons: As convenient as they are, pads are not ideal for the environment as they are single-use items that you throw away after a few hours’ use.
These are cloth pads that you can wash and reuse. They are usually made of absorbent material like cotton or bamboo and have a snap button on the wings to secure around your underwear. It is recommended that after using the pad, you rinse it, soak it overnight and then wash it.
Cost: A single pad can range between $12 - $35 depending on absorbency and brand. Most brands have packs you can purchase, which usually means a lower per-item price.
Pros: Like disposable pads they are easy to use. They are also much better for the environment as they can be washed and reused.
Cons: They do require a bit of work, as you have to rinse, soak, wash and dry them between uses. The upfront cost can seem quite steep, but as they are reusable, over the long run you will save money.
These are pieces of cotton with a string at one end. You put them into your vagina to soak up your blood, and pull them out using the string. You should change a tampon every 4-6 hours, or as needed. You can choose from a range of sizes, depending on how heavy your period is.
Cost: Packs range between $4 - $9 depending on type, brand and number of tampons per pack.
Pros: Small, and easy to discretely pack in your bag or pocket. If inserted correctly, you cannot feel you are wearing a tampon, making them very comfortable and convenient. You can go swimming when you are wearing a tampon which may not be practical with other period products.
Cons: There is a small risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) when using tampons. TSS is a rare bacterial infection that can cause damage to vital organs. To minimise your risk, always wash your hands before handling and inserting a tampon, use the lowest absorbency to suit your flow, change your tampon at least every 8 hours and always take the tampon out before you go to sleep.
These are soft, medical-grade silicone or rubber cups that are put into the vagina to catch the blood flow. You empty the cup every 8-12 hours, rinse it under water, and put it back in.
Cost: The cost upfront may seem high at between $35 - $50, but given the cup is reusable and can last for a couple of years, in the long-term you will be able to save a lot of money not having to purchase pads/tampons every month.
Pros: If inserted correctly, cups should feel comfortable and not leak or spill, making them suitable to be used while exercising, including swimming. They are also much better for the environment, as you are able to drastically cut down on the number of menstrual products you use.
Cons: They can be messy and tricky to insert as a beginner, but with practice it gets easier. If you are squeamish about blood this might not be the product for you, as it requires washing after each use.
These look and feel like your regular underwear, but are very absorbent. They can be used instead of pads or tampons when you have a light flow, or as a back-up when you have a heavy flow.
Cost: $25 - $45, depending on brand and type of underwear.
Pros: Very convenient, as period underwear feel just like normal underwear. They are also another environmentally-friendly option as you just need to wash them and they can be reused.
Cons: You need to build a collection to ensure you have enough to see you through your period day and night, so the upfront cost can seem like a lot. If you have particularly heavy periods, you may need to use a pad of tampon with your period underwear on your heaviest days to ensure no leaks.
Soft tampons are an alternative to traditional tampons. They are stringless.
Pros: Stringless. Don't interfere with intercourse.
Cons: Because they don't have strings, people can find them difficult to remove.
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