Menstruation – a rite of passage for many girls. Menstruation is also, as annoying as it is, an indicator of uterine health. It can also be the lack of menstruation that brings either nerves of joy or nerves of stress that you are pregnant. But whatever menstruation is to you, it is an integral part of being a biological woman, and you will therefore be stuck with menstrual products up until the day that you’ve gone through menopause and leave your menstruating days behind you. But there are so many menstrual products that it could make anyone’s head spin. So let’s break it down.
The pad, probably the oldest menstrual product of them all. Going all the way back to the 1800s where it was commonly referred to as ‘the rag’ due to a pad being simple rags stuffed into the underpants. These days we have a wide selection of pads to choose from. Pads without and with wings, scented pads, pads for the different levels of flow that you are experiencing, the anion pads, and of course the Lady Anion pads which are growing in popularity due to its ground-breaking use of negative ions to promote vaginal health, fight bacteria, and reduce inflammation. There are also natural cotton pads and reusable pads. Whatever your mood or your flow, there is a pad out there that will be just the right fit for you.
The tampon is probably one of the products with the most controversy around it. From people being afraid of the moral implications of using a tampon, to the great Toxic Shock Syndrome scare in 1985, this little bullet-shaped menstrual product has caused many waves in its lifetime. A lifetime which is surprisingly long, if we were to believe the history books. They have found very old and coarsely made tampons dating back to Egyptian times, but there is no proof that that is what it was actually used for. But a tampon is truly a wonderful little invention. Allowing you to continue your busy and active lifestyle, and of course not meddling with your vacation plans. This little discreet menstrual product is easily stored in a purse, and also comes in different sizes to accommodate your flow.
This menstrual product has gained a lot of popularity, especially amongst less fortunate young girls, as well as transgender men. They are reusable, affordable, and saves you a lot of money. Some of the period panties or pants come with a pocket where you can simply insert a wingless pad, but this then only becomes a vessel for the pad, instead of a stand-alone menstrual product. The other period panties or pants which are washed after each use is the true menstrual product, which holds a lot of pros for those who choose to wear them.
A new contender on the market, which is actually also quite old, is the sponge. Women saw the super absorbency of natural sponges, and it was clearly a good idea to use it to soak up all that menstrual blood. The only downside at the time was that pieces would eventually break off and get stuck, causing infection and lethal side effects such as Toxic Shock Syndrome. But the sponges that are on the market now is safe to reuse as many times as you want. The only prerequisite is that you wash it properly between uses. It is easy to insert, and because it is soft and pliable, you do not need a specific size for the different times of your flow. Women have reported that it is sometimes necessary to double up with a pad if the flow is especially heavy, but if you change your sponge regularly, this should not be necessary. Although the modern version of the sponge is a bit pricey, it is definitely worth the investment.
The menstrual cup is not as new as many people are led to believe. The first cup was actually introduced and patented in 1932, and was made of rubber. The design and material was improved upon over the years, and now we have the silicone menstrual cups that many love and swear by. It is an extremely environmentally friendly product, as a single cup can last you up to ten years. If we look at the figures regarding the amount of pads and tampons being used each day globally, it becomes a scary statistic to see how many of these are going into landfills. Although most modern pads and tampons can easily be composted due to it being made of cotton, this does not happen. Therefore the impact on the environment becomes quite hard. As with a sponge, the one golden rule is to wash it properly between uses. The menstrual cup is easy to use once you get used to it, and does not need additional products, even during heavy flows.
Strange and bizarre
Some of the menstrual products that women used back in the day will never make a comeback, and we should be thankful. Moss was free and absorbent, but not exactly hygienic. This was one of the things desperate women would fill their panties with when their period made its monthly visit. Then there was the sanitary apron, which was just a rubber seat filled with cloth that wasn’t absorbent. It simply avoided women staining their clothes with menstrual blood, but they smelled horrible. There was also the highly uncomfortable sanitary belt, which was used to hold a pad in place. This was of course before the glue at the bottom of a pad was introduced. They were very uncomfortable to wear, and would also hurt due to pinching and chafing. Luckily we have come a long way since the days where the mere mention of menstruation or menstrual products were frowned upon, and now live in a more enlightened time where education is key. Menstrual products is no longer viewed as a luxury, but as a necessity.