If you are in anyway squeamish, or are not comfortable about “exploring” your own body this blog may not be for you. It will be a rather intimate blog about female monthly times and my personal journey into deciding to use re-usable menstrual products and why I personally have made the switch for the better.
I’d been thinking about travelling. Yes, seriously that’s how I got to this topic. My love of travel and wanting to see the world. I was browsing a travel site aimed at women called Her Packing List and came across an odd, but intriguing post called “Why I love my menstrual cup”. I read it and found a few people leaving comments on getting more in-depth advice on these re-usable menstrual products, the aforementioned cup and also re-usable cloth pads from a girl named Bryony (formerly Bree), who makes vlogs on all things “monthly” via her YouTube channel: Precious Star Pads.
After watching a few of her videos and weighing up the pros and cons of switching from disposables to a more reusable method, I thought as a newbie I’d order my first “stash” of pads see how they pan out and then in a few months if all was good, I’d get some more and a few menstrual cups and bid adieu to all things disposable in this area.
They work more or less in same way as a disposable, you can get ones with or without wings and different lengths, styles and absorbencies depending on what you class your flow as. The ones with wings connect with a snap fastening (see below), which usually has two snap settings, for a wide or narrower fit.
I have to say I am loving them thus far. For some the thought of wearing a cloth pad that has to be washed out and dried before re-using may sound really ick, however I have found in the first month of using these that it has been a really easy process. They are in fact softer, I have had little to no cramping and in my opinion they are equal to disposables in absorbency. So far I’ve had no leakages!
I don’t get the issue of the back of the pad wings sticking to my inner thighs or the uncomfortable chaffing that I get when walking, there are no sweaty bits down there and despite some critics stating that cloth may feel bulky, they’ve come a long way since my grandmother’s time when they were literally a bit of cloth balled up into your panties. Most, apart from the night/postpartum, (which are slightly thicker to hold a heavier flow for a longer time period) are rather thin and I barely realise I’m wearing them.
In terms of cost it can be pricy to start up, you are looking at around £3-£7 per pad. Precious stars and Cheeky wipes both do a complete starter set at around £20,as do a lot of other ranges I had looked at on Etsy and products made in the U.S.A,Canada and Europe. Just to put this into perspective. Disposables you wear once and throw away. If say I roughly spend £25 every 3 months on disposables I’m looking at around £100 per year. Over the amount of years I’ve been menstruating I’ve roughly spent £1,700 on products I throw away after one wear. For some of you that figure may me more or less, depending on how often you are having to change on your heaviest or lightest days. Cloth Pads can last 5-10 years (as can the cups if cared for properly), which means with an initial start up cost of £200, over 10 years I will save around £800 on buying disposables. Not to mention the amount one women alone contributes to landfill, in her menstruating lifetime- which is estimated at around 12,000 disposables that take years to decompose. So I’m working on my eco warrior-ness and doing my bit to save the planet and my pockets.
Contrary to popular belief, they do not smell. In fact, compared to disposables I’m noticing less of a smell as I haven’t got the whole blood mixed with chemicals as you do with a disposable. I soak the pads daily in cool water (never hot as this sets the stain) with a scoop of vanish in a bucket and give them a rinse then I’ll let them dry natural. At the end of the cycle I pop them in the machine and wash on a cool 30 degree wash for good measure. Alternatively, they can be popped into a wet bag until the end of the cycle then wash them in the machine all together. At present I only have 12 regular pads and 4 liners, so they need to be washed every 2 days for me to then have enough to wear again by day three of my cycle. Everything is personal preference, I find I like to wash them out by hand daily.
With the rise of mothers using re-usable nappies, it was only a matter of time before the more eco-friendly and less squeamish of us warrior women decided to give this a go. What works for baby can surely work for mothers and women in general too. It’s a shame more isn’t done to promote these products in schools, but I guess the industry need to keep options limited so they can monopolise the market. Let’s not forget tampons are still currently taxed!(but that’s a post for another day). Plus many teenagers and adults for that matter, likely cannot get past the ick factor. I know my mothers reaction wasn’t one of elation when I mentioned I was making this switch, but she is seeing the benefits for me already.
This is only month one and actually, my period has been a more enjoyable (for want of a better word) experience. I have had less pain, less PMS and generally with the awesome styles and patterns available, other than the bog standard white. I already fear I’m slowly becoming a paddict (pad addict) and I’ve felt unusually happier.
I’ll do a proper review of the pads I’ve tried in my first month over the coming weeks, but if you want to know more leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.
Be sure to check out Bryony’s Channel here. She is a pearl of wisdom on all things menstrual and re-useable.
I am definitely in better control of my mood, my happiness and my cycle. Mother nature no longer ruins my week. I’ve learned to embrace my cycle in a fun, mentally upbeat and eco-friendly way and so far, I’m loving it!