Whether you call it menstruation, menses or aunty flo, most women have to deal with their monthly periods. Besides how annoying periods are, we also have to stress over what sanitary products to use.
For some women, choosing a sanitary product is as easy as picking an item off the racks of a mall. However, there are a few factors to consider when selecting a sanitary care product.
First, we should consider absorbance. Some women have heavier periods than others. So choosing a product may depend on this. Generally, most types of products have different absorbance levels. So you can still pick the type of product that suits you and select the appropriate absorbance category.
Next, think about the shape and location of the product. There are both internal and external products available. Your choice will depend on how comfortable you feel. The external might be a better optproducts are made from a combination of industrial cotton, plastic, latex and absorbent gels. But these materials can cause irritation and even allergic reactions.
Another thing is the products are not exactly environment friendly. Did you know that a typical disposable sanitary towel can take over 500 years to decompose?! Now that’s a lot to think about.
Now here are the actual range of products available.
Sanitary pads are the original go-to product for many women on their periods. They are made of synthetic materials including industrial cotton (which is often bleached), latex, other plastics and polyacrylate gels (to soak up the liquid). However, if you don’t really like the sound of this arrangement, more natural products are also available. 100% natural cotton, bleach, paraben and fragrance free sanitary are also available.
It is advisable to try out a few different brands and styles to find which you like best.
Remember, you should change your pad every 3-4 hours, depending on your flow.
Tampons are a popular internal disposable sanitary product. They are small tubes of absorbent cotton wool which are inserted inside your vagina in order to absorb any blood before it leaves your body. Some of them have the addition of cardboard or plastic applicators which help with insertion. If inserted correctly, tampons are extremely comfortable and can go relatively unnoticed. They have a string attached which hangs outside the body so it can be very easily removed.
You shouldn’t wear a tampon for more than 4-6 hours so always keep track. With tampons there is the small risk of something called Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). This can be a very serious infection of the blood. However, it is rare and you can decrease the risk further by regularly changing your tampon. Avoid using them overnight.
Again, tampons are available in a variety of sizes with different absorbency rates to suit your needs and different materials are readily available. Most brands of tampons use non-organic cotton and rayon with the final product being bleached. However, there are some more natural alternatives out there. Organic, cotton tampons are also available which are gentler on the vagina and often more biodegradable. They are an excellent option for active individuals and can be worn whilst swimming for example.
Menstrual cups are an internal sanitary product. Their main benefit is that they are re-usable which is cost effective. They are more environmentally friendly as you can use them for several years and they can be worn for longer periods of time with no risk of TSS.
Insert the cup and let it sit inside the vagina where it catches the menstrual flow. If inserted correctly, the cup won’t leak. When you pull the stem and pinch the base of the cup, the seal is released and the cup can be easily removed. You should empty the content down your toilet. Then the cup can be washed and re-used. The cup can be emptied as little as every 12 hours and rarely needs to be emptied more often than this. However, this is dependent on your individual flow.
As you can imagine, this method requires quite a bit of contact with your menstrual blood. So it’s not for the squeamish. It is also important to know that there’s nothing “dirty” about menstrual blood. Just be sure you keep the product cleaned and stored according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Remember, you should never share reusable menstrual products with anyone. And you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions about when and how to replace the product.
Absorbent Period Pants
This is the newest menstrual product on the market. The crotch is 4 layers thick and absorbs light to medium amounts of menstrual flow. This is not a cheap option. However, they are washable and reusable and environmentally friendly. Users of this product say they are Thin. But very absorbent and comfortable to wear. Also, they don’t stain, and absorb normal menstrual flow all day.
Remember, the most important thing is that the option you use is one which you find most comfortable and effective.
Ask any of your older friends or family for advice. Or to spend an extra 5 minutes in the supermarket deciding which product would be best for you.