I tried period underwear so you don't have to

 

1 in 4 women improperly dispose of tampons because of period shame (ie flushing down the toilet to avoid placing it in the trash where it might be seen.. )

A woman uses roughly 11,000 disposable menstrual products in her lifetime, all of which take centuries to breakdown.

A study conducted by THINX – which calls itself “the only period-proof underwear” – to mark Earth Day (April 22nd), found that a combination of misinformation and societal stigma around periods may be contributing to wastefulness.

Nearly three-quarters of those polled have been so embarrassed by their periods that they have rearranged items in a trash can to better hide a pad, tampon or applicator they were disposing of.

The results also showed that 38 percent of the women polled were more likely to flush a tampon down the toilet while away from their home, particularly when they are at work or at a partner’s place.

And that’s not the only way embarrassment changes behavior: 62 percent of women avoid doing certain activities when that time of the month rolls around.

In particular, women avoid swimming (76 percent), working out (40 percent) and hiking (18 percent.)

And way more fucking important than that, 100 million girls are missing school because of their periods . 

THINX VP of brand, Siobhan Lonergan: “It’s time for women to step up and do what we can to help preserve our environment for ourselves and future generations, especially in situations we have direct control over.

“We can be more thoughtful about how we take care of our bodies and the environment. There are many sustainable period solutions available and your choice can make a positive impact.”

So what are your alternatives? 

 

Free bleeding

what it is: exactly what it sounds like - no tampons, no pads, no fluid-blocking materials

Basically what you did by accident in middle-school...

I'm not even going to talk about this one because it's 2018 and there are wonderful earth-friendly alternatives making free-bleeding unnecessary #notmycupoftea

 

Leakproof underwear

what is it: underwear made of techy-fabric that is specifically designed to collect menstrual blood during wear. At the end of the day, you rinse out the panties with cool water before adding to the laundry pile (they're machine washable). Put on a fresh pair for bed and sleep in comfort as you know your sheets are safe. 

I've used the Thinx brand. The fabric is anti-microbial, moisture-wicking, absorbent, and leak-resistant. 

I was skeptical of this product but it works as advertised. I have the hiphugger, boyshort, sport, and cheeky styles. The hiphugger is my fave. The cut of the boyshort feels a little too much like my old track uniform for my liking. The material really does absorb blood without leaking. I don't know if profile is the correct term here, but the underwear is not any thicker than a pair of normal panties yet magically absorbs tampons worth of blood.

With all the leaks and spills that already happen during my average cycle, I’m more often than not having to rinse and wring out my underwear anyways, might as well protect my cute ones and wear something specifically made for periods.

During my quick google search I counted 8 companies that are marketing leak-proof underwear so I'm thinking this is a trend that is here to stay.

 

Cloth Pads

For hardcore zero-wasters who can also steer a sewing machine (100% not me), you can try making your own cloth pads and liners (most homemade ones use snap buttons for closure). This way, they’re completely tailored to your body and you can make as many as you need. 

My two cents - well I can't sew and I hate the feeling of pads so...  

 

Tampons with no applicator 

Over 170,000 tampon applicators were collected along the U.S. coast in just 1 year – that's more debris than discarded syringes, condoms, and plastic six-pack rings combined. 

Environmental issues aside, applicators are straight and stiff while the vagina is curved, using a fingertip allows you place the tampon where it feels most comfortable and protects you most effectively. 

I grew up using the o.b. brand because that's what my mom used (Hi, Mom!). For a long time it was my go to because I can buy it at Target buuuuut the product is made of rayon and synthetic materials. While these tampons aren't contributing applicators to our landfills and they're not bleached with chlorine, there are many alternatives that are made of 100% organic cotton.

P.S. cotton does not contribute to the growth of the bacteria that causes Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).

Organic Cotton Options:

Veeda : available online and at Cub Foods MN readers ;) 

Thinx: regular or super absorbency but only 8tammys/box

Lola: Organic cotton feminine care delivered for free to your door. The future is now.

 

Cup

What is a menstrual cup?

So glad you asked! It's a bell-shaped cup that is inserted like a tampon to collect menstrual blood. It sits comfortably in your vagina and can stay for up to 12 consecutive hours day and night. Unlike a super absorbent tampon which is foreign and drying, using a cup helps maintain a healthy vaginal pH. 

Caring for the cup is pretty simple, wash with mild soap and water whenever emptying it. 

That said, this for me is the biggest drawback of the cup. When I go to the bathroom at work, I have to be quick, I don't have time to be doing dishes. Plus, the manufacturer advises against antibacterial hand soaps (such as those in public restrooms).

The cup can be a little tricky to master at first but once it's in the correct spot it really is leak-proof and comfortable (more than comfy, it feels like nothing).  It moves with your body whether you are dancing, swimming, running or watching Queer Eye on Netflix. 

So many brands of cups, my fave is by Lena

The most important thing is to know your flow. Or go with the flow, I'm not sure. I don't bleed directly into my Thinx, I've tried it and I didn't like it. But they make a great backup to tampons or a cup. 

SO if I can write a whole article on tampons and panties (two words that still make me uncomfortable) you can have your period without flushing or rearranging the trash. Don't mess with Mother Earth, we chicas got to stick together. 

 

 

 

 

 

Christine Hicks