Reusable Sanitary Products: What are the pros and cons?
Over the last two years, we have seen an increase in people moving to more sustainable choices for their periods. For the most part, once you find the product that suits you, there is no going back. What makes it such a great choice? Aside from the obvious environmental benefits of moving away from single-use period products, users find that they are much more comfortable and can save money in the long run.
So, what are Reusable Sanitary Products?
There is a huge range of reusable sanitary products but the main three on the market are:
- Menstrual Cups
- Cloth Sanitary Pads
- Period Underwear
You can choose to use one product exclusively or use a mix of products for different stages of your period.
Are there environmental benefits?
YES! Around 500 million disposable sanitary products end up in landfill every year. When it’s estimated that we menstruate for 45 years, the number really is staggering. In 2019, the Marine Conservation Society stated that they found 4.8 items of plastic menstrual waste along every 100m of the UK coastline. Most menstrual pads are made from 90% plastic!
How to choose what suits you?
As with most things in life, the choices are endless. When choosing menstrual products, take into consideration your comfort, your lifestyle and your budget. The Period Lady has an advice questionnaire where you can fill out your requirements and preferences, then an advisor will look it over and match it to a product that will suit your needs the best. This can save you a lot of time researching the hundreds of different products on the market.
Why choose sustainable options?
Comfort, economic, environmental, easier to use are just some of the reasons we choose reusable period products but what are the advantages or disadvantages of each?
Reusable Sanitary Pads
Reusable Sanitary Pads or Cloth Sanitary Pads (CSP) are really varied. You can choose between a fleece top or a natural top with an absorbent core usually made of cotton, hemp, bamboo or microfibre. It is then packed with laminated polyester, cotton or fleece.
Due to the huge variation, it is easy to find a pad that suits you. Like their single-use counterparts, there is a selection of heavier/night pads, regular pads and lighter pads to tailor to your flow. The CSP are used, rinsed and then can be washed with your normal clothes (as long as you don’t use fabric conditioner or liquid detergent) and then re-used and they last around 5 years.
Cost-wise you can save around £600 every 5 years.
Advantages of Cloth Sanitary Pads:
- They can be quickly and easily changed if you have a very heavy period.
- You can choose from such a variety of products for your comfort level.
- They are much more breathable than disposable pads.
- They are very easy to use..
- You make a financial saving compared to disposable products.
- When out and about you will have to carry around used sanitary pads (though there are great easy ways to get round this).
- Depending which pads you like, they can work out more expensive than other types of reusable period products.
Period underwear looks just like normal underwear but they have an absorbent panel sewn into the gusset and often an anti-wicking layer next to the skin to help keep the skin dry.
They can usually be worn for 8-10 hours and come in a variety of absorbencies and styles. Whichever style of pants you like, there is a pair of period underwear to suit you. They can last 3-5 years.
Advantages of period underwear:
- You can wear the same pair for up to 10 hours.
- They look just like normal pants.
- Can be washed in your normal washing (when using powder detergent and no fabric conditioner).
- Swapping to period pants can save you around £250 over 3 years.
- The initial outlay can be expensive – depending on the style you choose.
- If you need to change them out in public, then it means changing your whole underwear.
- They need replacing more often than CSP.
A Menstrual Cup is worn inside the vaginal canal. It collects menstrual blood that can then be removed and discarded and the cup reinserted. They are really simple to use. Once you have the cup that suits your body, women say they can forget they are on their period.
Unlike tampons they do not absorb all fluid, just collect, which means you feel much more comfortable. Menstrual Cups are usually made of medical grade silicone, making them very hygienic and safe to use.
Advantages of a menstrual cup:
- Cheapest form of reusable sanitary protection. Cup prices are between £15-35.
- You can use the same cup for your light, spotting, regular or heavy days.
- Most discreet form of protection.
- Can be worn for 10 hours.
Disadvantages of a menstrual cup:
- Requires you to know your cervix height (but don’t worry we have a guide to help you).
- Insertion and Removal can be fiddly to get the hang of.
- Can be uncomfortable if you don’t have the right one.
- Not suitable for post-partum use.
Interested to find out more?
If you are interested in making a more comfortable and sustainable choice for your period but you don’t know which pants, cups or pads would suit you, then head to The Period Lady website and fill in our questionnaire, drop us an email or contact us on Facebook or Instagram. We also have a Facebook Group where you can ask or share advice.