pads and tamponsGone are the days when pads or tampons are the only options for absorbing a woman’s menstrual flow. Today, we have all kinds of recommendations, making it easier than ever for patients to choose period solution options that align with their comfort level, lifestyle, and flow needs.

5 Alternatives to Pads and Tampons

Here are five period solution alternatives to pads and tampons our patients love.

1. Period cups

Period cups are available in some grocery store aisles, most pharmacies, and health food stores. And, of course, you can also order them online. Typically made from silicone, period cups (also marketed as menstrual cups) have been around since the late 1930s. However, they only became widely popular once the eco-friendly movement began questioning – and poo-pooing – the use of tampons and disposable pads, which largely wind up in landfills.

The cups are typically made from silicone and inserted into the mid-range of the vaginal canal – with the opening of the cup underneath the cervix. The edge seals along the vaginal walls, and the cup catches the blood. Cups are sized according to your age and reproductive history. For example, Diva Cups have three different sizes based on age, whether or not you’ve had vaginal sex, and whether or not you’ve had a baby. The Lunette Cup offers two sizes based on age and menstrual flow levels.

Other menstrual cup brands include:
• Saalt
• Flex
• June
• All Matters OrganiCup
• Lena
• Nixit
• Cora

Depending on where you are in your cycle, cups need to be emptied and reinserted every four to 12 hours on average. In addition to minimizing landfill waste, these are incredibly cost-effective because a single cup lasts for many years.
It takes a little time to get used to using a cup (as well as period discs), so don’t give up after your first attempts. Most of our patients who get used to how they work can’t imagine going back to any other solution.

2. Period Underwear

These are one of the most popular options on the period solutions market. They’ve one-upped the market on reusable cloth pads (see next) by creating comfortable underwear with ultra-absorbant material in the crotch. The material absorbs blood and wicks away moisture for a surprisingly comfortable wear.

Some of the most well-known period underwear brands are:
• ModiBodi
• Thinx
• Rael
• Saalt
• Cora
• Knix
• Aisle
• Thinx
• The Period Company

And before you assume period panties = grannie panties, never fear! You don’t have to sacrifice style for period comfort. These underwear come in a range of styles, including sportier versions or those that replicate sexy lingerie. In addition, because they are all washable, they create both a convenient and environmentally-friendly option.

That said, high-quality period underwear isn’t cheap. And you can plan on wearing two or three different pairs per day (or more if your flow is on the heavier side). For this reason, they may not be the best option for girls and younger teens who are just starting their periods since parents will have to continue buying replacements to accommodate their daughter’s growth. However, once your size is relatively stable, they’re a cost-saving, comfortable, and environmentally-friendly period option.

3. Reusable cloth pads

Cloth pads were the norm before the post-war era and the rise of disposable diapers, tampons, and pads – all of which utilized the same types of absorbent, moisture-wicking technology. Now, they’re making a comeback. However, today’s period pads are made from soft, super-absorbant materials designed for a comfortable fit.

Cloth pads are an excellent option for those just starting their periods as they’re easy to use and non-intrusive. The pads typically snap or velcro into place and wrap around the crotch of existing panties to prevent staining. They can be used for years or until you feel more comfortable exploring other options.

Cloth pads can be washed and used over and over again. The most prohibitive thing about reusable cloth pads is that you’ll need a protective pouch to store used pads when you’re not at home.

4. Period discs

Period disks (or menstrual discs) operate similarly to cups. They are inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual blood. In the discs’ case, they’re inserted higher up into the vaginal canal, resting at the vaginal fornix. However, unlike cups, period discs:

  • Are disposable. In that way, they are not considered eco-friendly. However, there are brands making reusable versions.
  • They can be worn during sexual intercourse. The disks are inserted differently from cups, higher up, and made of a thin material that moves to the side. Thus, they can be worn during penetration.

Some of the most well-known period disc brands are:
• Hello
• Flex
• Luma
• Cora
• Hello
• Nixit
• Saalt
Some brands offer “reusable” options, which are thicker and more durable than their disposable counterparts.

5. Sterile gauze

Another option for the period solution is sterile gauze. Most women don’t use this as a permanent option, but keeping some sterile gauze pads in your purse or backpack takes up little space. On those days you’re caught unaware by your period, sterile gauze pads are a far better solution than toilet paper.

Overlake Ensures Patients Get Accurate Answers to Important Questions

Do you have questions about your period? Having a hard time adjusting to a period cup or disk and want some support before giving it up altogether? Schedule an appointment with Overlake OB/GYN, and we’ll make sure you get personalized answers.