Single-use, disposable products are a relatively new lifestyle: the first disposable pads came out in 1896, and the first tampons were introduced in 1933. Before the mass production of reusable cloth pads in the 1800s, your period didn’t cost you anything. Women made their own cloth pads or used wool, moss, softened papyrus, or sea sponges – basically, whatever was around. These days, the most popular reusable products are menstrual cups, reusable cloth pads, and sea sponges.
Menstrual cups give you the freedom of movement of tampons, but without the waste, cost, and health risks. They are our person favorite sustainable product. Cups are made of latex or medical grade silicon. They are worn inside the vagina during menstruation to collect menstrual fluid. Unlike tampons and pads, the cup collects menstrual fluid rather than absorbing it. One cup costs $35 and can last up to 10 years—quite a deal.
There are tons of more detailed resources on how to properly use cups– check out videos on youtube, or our resources page. This is just the basics.
There are three brands of menstrual cups approved for sale in the United States. They have minor differences, but work the same way. All brands carry two basic sizes – one for women under 30 or who have never given birth, and a slightly larger size for those over 30 or who have given birth.
Insertion, Placement, and Removal: The cup sits low in the vagina, but fully inside (you can ride a bike without feeling the stem). You fold the cup in either the “U-fold” or “push-down” (as shown) for easy insertion. The cup will spring back to its original shape once inside, and create a seal with your vaginal wall to prevent leakage. To remove, pinch the base of the cup to break the seal, and pull it out.
REUSABLE CLOTH PADS:
Some women love the other reusable options. Cloth pads are reusable and can also last many years. To clean, soak them in cold water then put them in with your laundry. You can make your own, or buy them from any of several companies. These are great for people who don’t want to use insertable products, or who like to change things up.
Sea sponges are just what they sounds like! They are worn internally, and function like a tampon. You can buy them in health food stores or online.