A Zero Waste Period
Oh yeah. We’re gonna talk about it. Like most women who get their periods, I used to use tampons… but ~20 tampons (or pads) a cycle? That’s a lot of waste. And a lot of money. So I started exploring the world of reusable feminine hygiene products. And color me impressed. While initially kind of scary, once I got the hang of all the products (and learned about the different options) — I can confidently say that my periods don’t feel quite so arduous. So let’s go from easiest to hardest with three different reusable period products. 1. Cloth pads 2. Period panties 3. Menstrual cup
1. Cloth Pads
Exactly as it sounds. Cloth versions of old faithful — pads. When you’re ready to change out the pad, rinse in cold water, and wash/dry as usual. I think cloth pads are good as a backup to menstrual cups (more on that below) or on light days. I recommend getting a patterned or dark solid colored pad so that any stains don’t show (if that grosses you out!).
Pros: reusable, easy to use, machine washable
Cons: may not work great on super heavy days, will still “feel” period
2. Period Panties
Period panties are what got me in to the whole zero waste period world. They’re so easy to use and provide great protection. Like cloth pads, you rinse these out in cold water and wash as normal — however, these need to air dry and shouldn’t be thrown in to your dryer’s high heat. I personally use these on my end of period/light days when a cup feels like overkill.
Pros: reusable, easy to use, machine washable, can work for different levels of flow
Cons: will still “feel” period, can be pretty expensive at around $30 a pair (and if you’re only using period panties, you’ll probably need at least 5 pairs even with a mid-week wash)
3. Menstrual Cup
Ah, the menstrual cup. The tiny little cup that strikes fear in to the hearts of many women. But don’t be afraid! It might take some trial and error, a good amount of leaks your first few cycles, and moments of “HOW DO I GET THIS OUT?!” BUT. It works out. And hey — this might not be for everyone, and that’s okay too. But if you haven’t tried it, at least give it a shot. The cup is what truly reduced my period week waste to ZERO. And I was awed by how well it worked. Okay, so insertion isn’t a cake walk. But. Once it’s in properly — I can go 8 hours on my heaviest days and 12 hours on every other day without having to empty out the cup. Also, the best part — if it’s in correctly, I really can’t feel it, which makes the week just a bit better. Alright — so you want to try it out? Here are some tips.
- There are a LOT of different cups out there, with different sizing, materials, handles, etc. It might take some time to figure out what works best for you. But this quiz is a good start. Based on the quiz, I ended up getting the MeLuna and it’s been great so far.
- Watch a ton of Youtube videos to learn about the different folds to get your cup in. I watched this video a million times. The punchdown technique is what worked best for me initially but then I ended up switching to the C-fold (which, for me, allowed the cup to pop open easier). But you’ll need to find what works best for your body.
- Once you get your cup, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for sanitizing it before use. I boil my cup for a few minutes before the start of every cycle. During my cycle, I mostly just rinse out the cup and re-insert.
- Practice, practice, practice! If your cup isn’t inserted properly, you’ll pretty quickly feel a leak (hence why having a backup pad or period panty the first few times is crucial). If this happens, remove the cup and re-insert. If the cup is in properly, you shouldn’t be able to pull it out super easily. The cup needs to “pop open” in the vaginal canal from whatever fold you’ve created to insert it.
- I have found that inserting and removing my cup in the shower both cuts down on mess AND actually helps me insert and remove the cup better.
Pros: reusable, works for different levels of flow, don’t “feel” period, easy to sanitize, gain tons of knowledge about your body (trust me, you’ll get REALLY familiar with all your lady parts)
Cons: will leak if not inserted properly, learning curve for insertion and removal, can be messy to remove/re-insert especially if out in public or traveling
Ladies — what questions do you have?