Ok, ladies, this one is for you. Heads up, we’re going to be talking about periods.
We all know that our time of the month sucks. Like, a lot. Even for the lucky few of us who don’t experience any discomfort or mood swings, simply dealing with the flow can be an unpleasant experience at best. Unfortunately, I can’t help with the total sucking that is being a woman 3-10 days a month. But I CAN help reduce the waste and cost associated with having a period.
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There are multiple feminine hygiene products designed to be reusable, and I will be discussing three of the most popular types in this post. As with anything, make sure to do your research and decide which product would be best for you.
All of these products represent a higher upfront cost than traditional hygiene products, but will result in big time savings in the long term. I don’t know about you, but I hate purchasing things that I will only use once and then throw away. That’s why I’ve researched eco-friendly period alternatives.
This is the product that I use and am the most familiar with. A menstrual cup is a hollow rubber cup that is inserted into the vagina, similar to a tampon. Instead of absorbing the flow, it collects it. Every 6-12 hours the cup needs to be emptied, washed, and re-inserted.
I’ll be the first to admit that the cup requires a little bit of a learning curve, so the first couple of times you try I would recommend using a pad or panty liner as a back-up just in case.
Essentially, you fold the cup in half, and then in half again, and then insert it into the vagina. You then twist the cup 180° to ensure that it is fully open and a seal has formed around the rim. If the cup is inserted correctly, you will not feel that it is there (I promise!).
To remove, simply push in a side of the cup to break the seal, and pull out.
There are several different brands of menstrual cups, so again, do your research before you decide which to go with. The brand that I use is the DivaCup. There are two sizes, THIS ONE which is for women under the age of 30 who have no children, and THIS ONE, for women over the age of 30, or who have children. There really isn’t a big difference in the sizes, but it’s important to pick the right one to ensure a proper fit.
I really like the DivaCup because their rubber isn’t dyed. I see other brands with pretty purple and pink cups, but DivaCup doesn’t dye their rubber because they haven’t found a way to do so without any of the dye leaking back out again. Yuk.
Just something else to mention; I’ve heard from several women that their cramping either went away or was greatly reduced when they switched to the cup from tampons. They attributed this to not using bleached cotton anymore. I’m not promising that it will help everyone, or that it even helps at all, but it’s certainly something to consider.
How do I clean it?
Obviously this is an important question. The cleaner that I use for the DivaCup is the DivaWash (FOUND HERE). I really like using it because it’s pH balanced so as not to irritate my body. Every time I empty my cup (which can be done just into the toilet), I give it a rinse in the sink, and a quick wash with this cleaner; just a little bit will do.
If you’re in a public bathroom, it’s perfectly fine to just give it a wipe out with toilet paper and wait until you get home. The only thing is to make sure that you’re using potable water to wash with (no one likes infections…).
After every cycle, it’s not a bad idea to sanitize your cup. To do this, all you need to do it wrap it in a cloth and boil it for 5 minutes on the stove.
After a few months using your cup, you may begin to notice that it is turning a brownish colour. Don’t worry, it’s not dirty, it’s just becoming stained. The best way I’ve found to do this it to submerge it in equal parts hydrogen peroxide to water for a couple of hours. It comes out looking just like new.
How often do I replace it?
The official answer is once a year. Unofficially, I’ve found that they’re perfectly fine for much, much longer than that. I’ve had mine for almost three years now and it still looks (almost) brand new. The consensus among cup users is replace it when YOU feel that it needs to be replaced.
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There are a multitude of reasons why a cup might not be the best fit for you. And that’s totally ok! Another popular eco-friendly period alternative option is washable pads.
While I haven’t personally ever used these, I’ve heard some really good things about them. Apparently you should wear tight fitting underwear when using these, as a lack of sticky wings means they like to slide around a lot (they have snaps instead).
Just give them a rinse, and wash with your towels. Hang to try. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!
Period panties are something that I’ve only heard about recently, though apparently they’ve been around for quite some time.
I was under the impression that you can use these in place of a pad, tampon, or cup, but it turns out that these are to be used AS WELL as your usual go-to. They’re meant more as a back up (instead of a disposable panty liner).
Apparently though they work really well with reusable pads because they’re designed to have a tighter fit (winning!).
Again, period panties aren’t something that I’ve tried myself, but THESE ONES have gotten a really good review. I can understand the sense of relief that would come with knowing I had a built in back up.
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So what eco-friendly alternative are you using for your period? Let me know in the comments!
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