Although alternatives to pads and tampons have existed for over 80 years, most women have not been interested in using them.
Menstrual cups, cloth pads, and other innovative products provide methods for catching menstrual fluid during menstruation and may help women save money without sacrificing the use of menstrual products.
“I use pads because pads are more comfortable,” senior Breyana Hillard said. “I don’t like the feeling [of tampons].”
Most females say they only have two choices — pads or tampons — yet the more environmentally friendly options not only help the Earth, but also benefit the consumer.
Nina Rastogi of “Slate” magazine writes that during a woman’s fertile years, waste from menstruation makes up about 0.5 percent of the generated trash that goes towards landfills. This amount may seem small, but as Rastogi points out, this percentage is the same for waste created from plastic cups and plates.
Organic tampons and pads such as the ones created by Seventh Generation are made of 100 percent cotton, allowing them to be completely recyclable. They also keep the vagina dry which decreases chances of yeast infections, a solid validation for costing about 50 percent more than regular tampons and pads.
Diva Cups, Lunette, Iriscup, and Moon Cup are marketed as menstrual cups that are reusable, biodegradable, easy-to-use alternatives to the usual items. These options typically last for around 10 to 12 hours a day, perfect for those regularly changing their tampons or pads.
“I change [my pad] like every hour or so and it also depends on days,” Hillard said. “The first day [of my period] I change it every hour, the fourth day every two hours.”
However, cloth pads such as Gladrags last just as long as regular pads, but for their five years of use (a single pad starts at $14.99) they are cheaper than regular pads, eco-friendly, and washable in the laundry. Worries over these alternative methods normally stem from this ability to be used multiple times through washing.
“Even if you rewash them there would still be bacteria and stuff,” junior Maurissa Spiller said. “The vagina is a really sensitive place, so it would make sense to have a new, perfectly clean thing instead of something that you don’t know if it’s for sure clean or not.”
These kind of sentiments are based mostly in fear, even though there appears to be greater risks of infection from tampons and pads than in other products.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, “Toxic shock syndrome is a rare, life-threatening complication of certain types of bacterial infections.” Although incidents of TSS have declined greatly in recent years, it is still important to avoid superabsorbent products that cause this issue and to replace menstrual products depending on a person’s flow.
Menstrual cups have had a few reported cases associated with them, but a majority of TSS incidences have been caused by the buildup of toxins and bacteria in tampons.
Thinx, a new company founded by Miki Agrawal, Radha Agrawal, and Antonia Dunbar, is a period-proof underwear that women can wear all day. These products are pricier than the ones they replace, costing around $30 per item, but with a variety of sizes and styles they may appeal to both a woman’s sense of fashion and practicality.
No cases of TSS or other infections have been linked to Thinx products, likely due to its anti-microbial application of silver imbedded into its fibers in order to fight against bacteria.
Still, most girls are resistant to changing products. “Most products don’t work as well as Tampax,” junior Alyssa Erickson said.
Personal preference plays a major role in what products females purchase and use; being organic or reusable just isn’t as convincing as the familiarity of high end brands such as Tampax or U by Kotex.