Pads, tampons, period cups, period panties - what you need to know

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You and your family need to find what works for you, your household, and your pocket.
You and your family need to find what works for you, your household, and your pocket.

Periods are generally not a popular topic of discussion around the dinner table; however, every woman needs to be made aware of the available options and the impact each option can have on their lives, and the environment.

When young girls hit puberty, getting their period can be daunting, stressful, and sometimes embarrassing. Often, they are given a pack of sanitary pads, a thumbs up and good luck.

Periods can be uncomfortable, and the anxiety of leaking throughout the day or with any violent sneeze or cough is a constant worry.

Luckily, these days more options can assist young girls and women during this sensitive time.

Read: Alarming stats on period poverty propelled local NPO to install sanitary towel machines in schools

The eco-friend option 

The sanitary pad that we are all familiar with is now available in a reusable eco-friend option. The same physical design, however, is secured to your underwear using snaps, and certain brands have movable inserts that work well.

Like the normal sanitary pads, you must use the best pad to match your flow. It will save you money in the long run and it is a small contribution toward saving our planet.

The tampon 

As early as 1931, the tampon was invented and made available to the public. Like anything new, it was frowned upon at first but later gained popularity, despite the unfamiliar insertion process. Even now, there are warning labels on tampon packages.

Due to its very nature of absorbing, tampons absorb your period blood and the good bacteria needed to maintain a healthy PH balance. Using tampons is comfortable but can sometimes result in an infection or even TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome). 

The menstrual cup

In the late 1930s came the menstrual cup, or period cup.

Unlike the tampon, it does not absorb your period blood but instead collects it for you to empty sporadically depending on your flow. It is made of medical-grade silicone and is almost bell-shaped with a stem.

It's not always easy to insert and does require some patience and trial and error; however, once you have mastered it, it's smooth sailing!

There are many 'how to' videos to help you with hints, tips, care instructions, pros and cons, etc. The best part is this; it is completely reusable and saves you time and money in the long run.

You may need to find the right size that suits your flow and correct firmness for easy insertion. Each brand is different, but it can last up to five years. It may not be suitable for young girls, some brands warn.

Must read: Body changes, periods and puberty: Tips for single dads with daughters 

The period panty 

An alternative product that has gained popularity lately is the period panty. This dates back to the late 1960s.

These use the technology of anti-microbial action for optimal absorption, all while you're wearing regular looking underwear. There is no uncomfortable 'shifting' as your day goes on or while you are sleeping, like with sanitary pads, nor any insertion of any kind like with the tampon.

Depending on your flow, you can wear it for most of the day. You will need to buy at least four or five Period Panties to cater for your entire menstrual cycle.

You will need to thoroughly wash it after every use and ensure that it is 100% dry before the subsequent use. This is a good option for young ladies starting their cycle or participating in athletics or physical activity.

If you decide to use the period cup, reusable pads, and period panties, you need to get comfortable with the cleaning process. It is something to get used to, but are eco-friendly ways to reduce waste and we need to try our best as a human race to eliminate toxic waste going into landfills.

It's a small start with a significant impact over time. Like anything in life, you and your family need to find what works for you, your household, and your pocket.


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