Updated: Apr 17
I am a firm believer of menstrual cups. I've had a bit of a journey with them, but they have honestly changed my life. With lots of travel, work in remote regions, living on a budget, with strange cycles (thanks to low B12) and trying to save plastics and resources, the menstrual cup has absolutely been a huge game changer. I've been using my cup consistently for a year, on and off for 4.
However, as I said, I have had ups and downs. The ups completely out weigh the downs- but the journey has lead to me mixing menstrual cup with irregular and periodic(!) use of single use period products still. I.E. on the first few days of my period I might use a sanitary towel at night too, or if it's extremely heavy I'll use a tampon. Slowly, I've been using less single use naturally, as the cup is 99% fantastic and period products are so noticeably expensive and plastic heavy now.
My confidence has grown enormously, to the point the this week I felt comfortable doing a yoga class on the first day on my period (normally when it's heaviest) with my cup. Well, almost immediately into yoga I realised I had a problem... A leak. Not a very comfortable experience at all, but I stuck it out and ran to the loo afterwards.
I had been putting off buying reusable sanitary towels for a number of reasons, including hoping the adjustment to cups would allow me to solely use the cup- avoiding using resources and buying products I didn't need. I also had, and still have a number of concerns, as follows.
- Washing. The cup is easy to keep clean. "Waste" is simply poured down the loo, and the cup sterilised at the end and start of my cycle. Pads require more cleaning- and we share a washing machine. Considering we are purposefully reductive on general clothes washing, the pads will require their own wash. I'm not sure what my fellow machine users will think of this procedure... But part of the process is breaking down these worries I guess?? I am concerned a little about what we do wash them with. I'm not keen to wash with things we use in the kitchen... obviously... so they'll have to go in our regular laundry washes.
- Microplastics and health concerns with plastic fabrics. Many reusable pads are made from plastic fabrics. This may be helpful in terms of practicality however I am a little concerned about health impacts and also the potential run off of micro plastics when I wash my pads.
- Can they be seen through my trousers? I wear leggings a lot. I wonder if the outline of the pads will be noticeable?
I have purchased two reusable pads from "Cheeky Wipes" because they are based locally. Unfortunately they are made from synthetic fibres. I assume two wipes is not going to be enough for a cycle, so I am bound to need more. I am going to try them this month and let you know how I get on...
Ok, so I have tried both the day and night pad that I purchased from Cheeky Wipes. A few thoughts:
- There is no "crackle" from the plasticy single use pads.
- It is bulky... The larger night pad is pretty big- but I guess I won't be using it in the day (when I wear tight clothes) so this isn't really an issue. The smaller day pad is much more conspicuous.
- It isn't sweaty. It's perfectly comfortable. Disposable pads are WAY more sweaty and gross.
- It simply is not as gross as I first thought. Honestly, I was never a full time pad wearer anyway, and I excuse myself for being a little squeamish. But it's honestly fine. I will almost certainly wear alongside the cup, so they're just a backup- meaning no extremely tricky washing. Totally viable to get washed in with my clothes as just the same as pants really!
I wouldn't rely on reusable sanitary towels, but I wouldn't have before reusables anyway. I think reusables work best when the swap from single use period products is most like what you're swapping too. Tampons- the cup and sanitary towels to reusable pads. I am also very keen to try reusable tampons. Going to the gym with the cup at the start of my cycle (heaviest) is a bit daunting and the pads are bulky. Having a mix of a small supply of reusable sanitary towels, the cup and a small supply of reusable tampons might just be my solution. We'll see, I'll let you know when I try reusable tampons! Overall I am impressed with the sanitary towels and they are certainly nothing to be scared of trying them. These things all take time to adjust to, but if you're a regular pad user, it will be an easy swap over time and save a small fortune. If you're getting into using the cup, reusable back up pads might be handy for you too (you'll won't need many) as I used sanitary towels that I had left over whilst adjusting too.
Where To Source Reusable Sanitary Towels?
I bought my reusable pads from Cheeky Wipes, because they're based in Brighton. I managed to get them on sale- I paid £11 for the large and regular. This investment will even out over time. I really recommend checking out ETSY because there are a number of great, small independent makers of pads. Also, Hannah, from @zerowastehannah recommends Earthwise girls and I trust her advice!
Let know if you try reusable pads!