“Green” Periods Are Not For Everyone – And That’s Okay!
The concept of “green” periods have become an increasingly hot topic in recent years.
Sustainability is the buzzword of the moment, and reusable period products such as menstrual cups, washable fabric pads and period pants are becoming more and more popular and widely available.
This is obviously a good thing. Seeing as a single conventional pad can contain as much plastic as a plastic carrier bag and will still be on the planet several hundred years from now, reusable menstrual products reduce this single use plastic waste considerably and are therefore more environmentally friendly.
I personally also find menstrual cups and washable pads significantly more comfortable and reliable than any disposable product which is an extra bonus. However, for those that prefer disposables for whatever reason, organic and plastic free options that are biodegradable are becoming increasingly available.
So… why hasn’t everyone made the switch?
While I can preach about the eco-friendly products I find the best all day long, I also accept that they are not for everyone. This can be for a myriad of reasons.
Periods are not comfortable in general, so why should your blood collection method make this any worse?
Folks who are averse to the ‘sitting in it’ sensation or feeling ‘wet’ may have a strong preference for tampons over washable pads and period pants, whether this be related to a sensory processing disability or not.
Washable pads are thicker than disposables, and some people are going to hate that ‘nappy’ feeling or feel more self conscious.
Menstrual cups take a bit of practice, and all the rooting around to get a cup to sit right can be uncomfortable or even painful – not what you need if you’re already a bit sore!
Particularly when out and about, people with a very heavy or unpredictable flow or a condition such as endometriosis may find reusable solutions impractical if they need to change them very regularly. While from my experience, cups and washable pads and pants hold significantly more blood than disposable pads and are way less prone to flooding, having to carry your used pads around all day until you get home or having to change underwear in a toilet cubicle is just a hassle.
Changing a menstrual cup in a public toilet or one where there isn’t a private sink very close by is not fun, and I avoid doing it if I possibly can. While you can wear a cup for much longer than a tampon, if you need to empty it on the go it can be messy, require pre-planning (such as making sure you have a bottle of clean water for rinsing) and become a source of anxiety.
Most articles on the subject tout reusable products as working out as much cheaper over a lifetime compared to disposables, which for the best part is true.
However, simply not everyone can afford to drop £20 on a Mooncup when they could grab a box of supermarket brands tampons for £1 and use the balance for their weekly shop instead.
Period pants are great, but good ones start at around £12 a pair. The average user will want to change at least twice throughout the day and then before bed – for a 4 day period, assuming you don’t want to run the washing machine every day, that’s the best part of £150.
Reusable pads again start off at around a fiver each which is another investment that isn’t feasible for all budgets.
Even organic, biodegradable pads and tampons are annoyingly significantly more expensive than their plastic based counterparts.
Some lifestyles and disabilities are just not compatible with reusable period protection.
Autistic people may have a very specific brand or style they prefer, and any change can be an extra and unnecessary disruption during the sensory chaos that is menstruation.
People who have limited mobility or require hands on help from another person with their personal care are not going to be good candidates for menstrual cups, and pads that can be immediately disposed of are the easiest and most dignifying option for a carer to assist them with.
All reusable products require you to be very hands on with handling blood. Pads and pants both should be rinsed out thoroughly before they go in the washing machine. Menstrual cups again require washing by hand. This could be problematic for people with a phobia of blood, sensitivity to smells, or people with bodily fluid or contamination related OCD.
People with chronic pain conditions affecting their genitals such as vaginismus or vulvodynia who may struggle with tampons likely won’t suit menstrual cups either.
My point is…
Trying to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle is important, and reducing the use of single use plastic and other non-biodegradable materials is a good start.
The once “hippy-dippy” reusable period product options (such as my faithful Mooncup) are becoming more mainstream and that’s brilliant progress.
However, if you don’t feel ready to make the switch – for any reason at all, mentioned in this article or not – then that is okay too.
I have amassed a plentiful selection of reusable products I have found work amazingly with my body and could hype them up for hours (see some of the reviews on this blog!). I haven’t used a disposable pad in well over a year – but I don’t want a round of applause for that. I still keep an emergency box in the house and at least one in every handbag I own. Sometimes they’re just the more convenient option – and that’s okay.
At the end of the day, we’re bleeding. It can be exhausting, painful and emotionally draining enough as it is. There is already enough stigma around this bodily function, so there should be no shame in how you choose to manage it.
This post is just a rant and has not been sponsored in any way!