Are there Alternatives to Tampons and Pads?

All women of child-bearing age have monthly periods. These are colloquially known as ‘the curse’ for a good reason. Dealing with periods is not always easy and if you have a heavy flow, you will likely spend a lot of your day worrying about embarrassing leaks. Then there is the financial and environmental cost of purchasing tampons and pads.

Tampons and pads, not to mention all the wrapping, account for around 200k tonnes of waste each year. Most of this ends up in landfill sites, although don’t be too surprised if you spot a used pad or tampon washed up on a beach nearby. Tampons are made from cotton, so they do eventually biodegrade, but it can take many months. Pads are mostly plastic, which means they don’t biodegrade so easily. Then there are all the toxic materials used to make tampons and pads. When you think about how many sanitary products the average women uses in her lifetime, the environmental cost is staggering.

Which brings us to the question: is there an alternative?

Menstrual Cups

Menstrual cups are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional pads and tampons. Menstrual cups are made from medical-grade silicone and are a reusable ‘cup’ for collecting menstrual blood. A menstrual cup is designed for insertion, just like a tampon. You can wear it for up to 12 hours at a time and if inserted correctly, a menstrual cup won’t leak.

The great thing about menstrual cups is they last for many years, so you will save a fortune on pads and tampons. They are ideal for active women, as they don’t leak, and you won’t have to stop and change it halfway through an exercise session.

There are several well-known brands of menstrual cup, so if you would like to know more, check out

Menstrual Discs

Menstrual discs are similar to menstrual cups, but they are flatter in design. One of the main benefits of using a menstrual disc is that you can have sex while wearing one – without all the mess! The downside is that they are more difficult to remove – and liable to make a mess everywhere if you are not careful.

Sea Sponges

Sea sponges are 100% natural. They grow in the ocean, so are sustainable, eco-friendly, and safe to use. Sea sponges work well because they are highly absorbent. You can also snip them to fit if necessary. The downside is that they don’t last much longer than six months, so you will need to keep replacing them.


Period Panties

Nope, period panties are not those hideous grey cotton undies you wouldn’t normally be seen dead in. These are period-proof panties designed to cope with menstrual blood. They are washable, reusable, and attractive – which is always a bonus!

Period panties look just like regular underwear, but they can absorb up to four tampon’s worth of menstrual blood. Some designs are only suitable for light flow days or as a backup option, but other period panties can be worn on heavy flow days. You can also wear them with other menstrual products, such as menstrual cups, pads, and tampons if you are worried about leaks. Shop around for a pair of period panties that best fits your lifestyle.

Period Yoga Pants

If you can’t stand the idea of a VPL but your period is due, wear a pair of period yoga pants. Like period panties, period yoga pants have a highly absorbent gusset and are washable/reusable. They are also great if you have a yoga class booked when your period is due.

Coping in an Emergency

Periods don’t always arrive like clockwork. They sometimes arrive early, or more worryingly, late. If you are caught unawares, without any sanitary protection, and the vending machine is empty, don’t panic. The best option is to make a substitute sanitary pad using toilet tissue. It isn’t ideal, but it might buy you some time until you can pick up something more suitable from the local store.

Fold several sheets of toilet tissue into a thick pad. Insert in your underwear. The toilet tissue will absorb menstrual flow until you have time to swap it out for period panties, a menstrual cup, or your preferred choice of sanitary protection.

Don’t let a pesky period ruin your routine. Any of the above products will do the trick!


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