There are so many period care products on the market these days, and not all of them are as healthy and safe as the others, so it can be a bit unsettling trying to work out where the best place to start is nowadays. From pads and liners, to tampons, to moon cups and period pants, there is a lot to choose from. So how do you know what to look for?
We’ve listed out the different options on the market, how to use them safely. Plus we've shared the pros and cons for each, and explained why earth and body friendly products are definitely the best.
PANTY LINERS AND PADS 🩸
Fabric pads and panty liners are placed inside your underwear, on top of the undercarriage, to absorb your menstrual blood during your period. Panty liners are thin versions of pads which can be used when you have very light blood flow, and pads often come in different absorbances for light, medium, heavy and night flow. Choose the right one for you at each stage of your period. It’s useful to keep some of each size ready for when you need them.
You can use either disposable pads which usually come wrapped in plastic and must be removed before you use it. When your pad is full of blood, remove it and place it in the bin taking care not to flush them down the toilet! New, modern cloth pads and liners are environmentally friendly, come in fun patterns and colours, and can be washed with your laundry and reused. This is much better for the earth and your body, as you’re not putting chemicals and plastics near your skin, or as waste into the earth.
You can purchase reusable cloth pads from Juju (in Australia) and receive a 20% discount on your purchase using the code, see the end of the article for all the discount codes and links to purchase them!
+ easy to use
+ easy to wash or dispose of
+ cheaper than some products
+ range of absorbencies
Pads Cons - disposable pads are not good for the earth unless made from biodegradable materials
- sometimes they don't stay in place
Tampons are like sponges which are inserted gently into the vagina during menstruation to absorb blood. Some tampons come with applicators (a plastic tube) to help you to try and wear the tampon in the right place, and some don’t. They come in different size absorbencies for light to heavy flow, and have a string attached to the end, so you can gently pull on the string to remove the tampon.
To insert the tampon we suggest sitting on the edge of the toilet and taking a breath to relax your muscles so it is more comfortable for you. Point the tip of the tampon slowly and gently inside your vagina, and slide it in at a diagonal angle towards your heart (point it slightly upwards and backwards). Don't attempt to use tampons if you are not bleeding on your period as the tampon won't insert, and it can leave your vagina feeling very sore. Gently does it!
Some tampons are made of synthetic products and some are made from organic cotton. Synthetic products generally contain many harmful toxins and can cause sensitivity in your body so using organic cotton is much safer Replace a tampon every 4 hours to keep healthy, or sooner if it is full and begins to leak. Tampons cannot be reused - carefully dispose of them in the hygiene bins in toilet paper instead of down the toilet as they can block pipes.
+ cheaper than some other products
+ can be more preferable for sporty, active people
- disposable products are bad for the earth
- contain chemicals which are absorbed by your body (unless using organic cotton tampons)
- tampons block the natural flow of blood which in some traditions blocks your ability to release emotions from your last menstrual cycle and is not ideal.
MOON CUPS 🩸
A mooncup is a very safe silicon cup which is folded and inserted into your vagina during menstruation to catch your menstrual blood. It is kept in its place by the muscles of your vagina, so it shouldn’t budge for the day if it's inserted correctly and is the right size for your vagina. It’s like a cup, and collects blood inside, but needs removing every 8 hours before being reused.
To use a Mooncup you insert and remove it with your fingers. To insert, the mooncup needs folding in half into a C shape like the image below, then gently bring the mooncup to the opening of your vagina and slowly slide it inside your vagina, being gentle and tender with your body. Give it a wiggle as you insert it, as its a fairly large object and I find that helps move it along.
The mooncup should be inserted high enough to sit inside the vagina, above the muscle to holds it in place, and you shouldn't be able to feel it. If you can feel the mooncup once inserted, it probably is not inserted high enough. Sit on the edge of the toilet, relax, and gently insert it again. The mooncup will pop open to its full shape inside your vagina, creating a seal that catches all your blood and prevents leaks.
Mooncups can hold a lot of blood - much more than you will bleed in a day but like tampons they should be emptied, rinsed and reinserted every 8-12 hours. Try to wash under running water and GENTLE cleanser (not soap as this will upset your vagina), otherwise toilet paper is fine.
To remove a mooncup you can pull gently on its stem like a tampon. If it doesn't move at first, you might need to bear down with your muscles like as if you are trying to do a poo, or place a finger in your vagina at the side of the cup and push the cup inwards to break the air seal which has sucked your mooncup into place!
Your moon cup needs sterilising at the end of your period - its best to wash with soap under the tap to get rid of any blood, then boil it in a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes. Store in its pouch until your period comes next time, voila!
Moon cups come in different shapes, colours and sizes, but are more expensive as they are made to last for a few years. They don't need throwing away and are healthy, environmentally friendly products.
+ save money in the long-term as you only buy one or two moon cups to last a few years
+ come in different sizes and shapes for children, adults, people who have given birth vaginally, people with different shaped and placed cervices (the plural of cervix!)
+ can pour blood onto your plants, because blood is the first and ultimate fertiliser! (just watch your flowers thank you and bloom!)
+ can see how much blood you pass each period
+ can last a full day so no need to change at school / work
+ more expensive purchase price than some other products
+ more involved sterilising process
+ more complex process to insert and remove
PERIOD PANTS 🩸
Period underwear are specially-made knickers which have built in absorbent pads within them so you can just wear these and bleed straight into them! They come in different sizes, styles, and absorbancies for light to heavy flow, and if you like, you can wear the pants whilst also using tampons or a mooncup inside your vagina to absorb your blood.
You can also wear period pants all month long, and they are especially handy when you are expecting your period so you don't get caught out. I love my period pants, they are so comfy!
Change your period pants every 8 hours or when they're full. Simply pop them in a cold bucket of water to soak before washing on a cool wash to get them ready for next time! (Important tip: cold washing helps remove stains, hot water sets stains)
We suggest keeping several pairs of period pants to see you through a period, ideally having some light and some heavier absorbency pants. Keep some in your school bag too, but what's great about period pants is that one pair should see you through the school day and they're so discrete!
Period pant Pros
+ SO SIMPLE!
+ save money in the long-term as you can wear your pants over and over and over... and at other times of the month than just when you're bleeding.
+ come in different styles and sizes for children, adults, and different bodies.
+ available in different absorbencies for light to overnight heavy flow.
+ also come as special swimming period pants!! Genius.
+ can soak your pants in cold water then pour the diluted mixture onto your plants, because blood is the first and ultimate fertiliser!
+ can last many hours so no need to change at school / work
Period pant Cons
+ more expensive purchase price than some other products especially to get a whole periods worth, and especially if you're growing and they won't last too long.
+ more involved cleaning process but it isn't hard
+ soaking in a bucket is a visible process which may feel uncomfortable for some
+ can't see how much blood you pass each period especially as many pants are black in the pad area.
Which do we recommend a child use when their period first begin?
Whatever they feel most comfortable using! Our best tip is to start off with period pants, as they can be worn anytime, are discrete and are super comfy, and they should last a whole school day. However to have enough pairs of pants to last a full period means spending quite a bit of money which is a downside. Period pants are also really easy to use and clean.
Many children prefer to use tampons soon, especially if they are sporty, and there is nothing wrong with choosing tampons from your first period if they're comfortable and know how to use them.
We believe that giving children all the options, and all the information they need to make an empowered choice is important. It's our mission, so they know what to use, how to use it, and how to be prepared and comfortable.
SAVE 20% ON PERIOD CARE PRODUCTS WITH US!
Woo! The kind people at JuJu, Organyc and Merula have provided you with a very special 20% discount code to use on all products in their online stores! Here's what's available and where...
Shop JuJu for mooncups, period underwear, reusable pads and more! JuJu even make a girls first period pack and give heaps of tips on their store at www.juju.com.au, use code FIRSTMOON.
Shop Organyc for organyc pads, tampons and mooncups at www.organyc.com.au with code FMC20.
Shop Merula at www.mynaturalnecessities.com.au/merula with code MOON20
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