Period Care Products: A Breakdown
Whether you get your period once a month, once in a while, or somewhere in between, they can suck. There’s the cramps, the sweats, the poops, and … the blood. A lot of us use whatever our caregiver or friend gave us early on: usually single use tampons or pads. We were then told to zip up our pants and get on with it. After all, whatever others can do, we can do bleeding. But what to do with that blood? Lo and behold, there is space to learn!
*We do not condone shaming, blaming, or pressuring people about their choices in general. We support people in using whatever period product, or lack of product, works for them or is available to them. We want to acknowledge the massive privilege in these choices. We also want to state that periods are not gendered.
Why consider period product options?
Good question. The answer is threefold: common period products are incredibly damaging for the environment, as well as your body, and are based on the stigma that menstrual blood is “dirty.”
Folks who menstruate will use on average 5 to 15 thousand tampons or pads through their lives. In Canada, that approximates 54 million kilograms of waste annually – and don’t forget, it’s not processed properly. It ends up in landfills, in the water, and harming delicate ecosystems.
Vulvas and vaginal canals have some of the most porous skin on the body. They are very susceptible to chemicals and dyes. Did you know that pads and tampons are made from cotton and plastic (Up to 90%) covered in herbicides and pesticides, followed by harsh chemical bleaching?
Having the privilege to, and choosing to, be discursive about our menstrual products is a big deal: instead of using whatever we were first given, we can take a step back and find what works best for us. And the choice is absolutely ours! All we contend that it should still be a choice. So here’s the lowdown on what’s out there.
Single Use Pads
Pads are easy to come by, easy to use, and easy to dispose of. They are made of very absorbent plastic composites and adhesive on the back to stick to your underwear. They can get a bit stinky if you don’t have a chance to change them, so many come with synthetic scents.
Single Use Panty Liners
The thinner sister to pads, panty liners are advertised for use every day or with a tampon during the period to avoid leaking onto underwear or clothing. They are generally more comfortable than pads and have a little more breathability, but are significantly less absorbent. Also, your underwear is already doing the job.
Tampons (With or Without Applicators)
A cotton (typically mixed with plastic) tube in a paper or plastic applicator (Or without an applicator) ready to be inserted into the vaginal canal. Of all of the options listed here, this carries the greatest risk for Toxic Shock Syndrome. They are also very convenient and commonplace and can be found in most bathrooms.
Toiled Paper Wad
The old classic, and used by many of us in a pinch, this is toiled paper rolled around your hand and delicately placed in your underwear. High likelihood of falling out of place and leaking. But a good trick for your back pocket.
Period Aisle Liners & Pads - Shop Now
Multi Use Pad
Reusable pads can be washed with and then tossed in with your laundry. They are equipped with different methods for attaching to your underwear: for instance, sliding in a slit in your panties, or snap buttons.
Period Aisle Menstrual Cup - Shop Now
One of the more intimidating but more rewarding options, cups can stay inserted for up to 12 hours. They are made from medical grade silicone, so your blood can’t coagulate – making your risk for TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) way lower than other popular insertable options like tampons. They can take a little getting used to. After getting through the "getting acquainted" phase, I find cups exponentially more comfortable than tampons.
Instead of sitting in the vaginal canal like menstrual cups, the cervical cup sits high against the cervix like a diaphragm. They are also generally made of medical grade silicone, and take a little getting used to.
Period Underwear - Available at Aisle
These are panties designed to absorb your blood. They do a phenomenal job of trapping and holding it, while not producing odour. Just rinse with cold water and throw in with the rest of your laundry when you are ready. I like to take them into the shower with me, rinse, wash, hang to dry, and have ready for the next day!
An old classic, many folks opt to use cloth rags or small towels out of either necessity or desire. Just put inside your panties, and pull up: your underwear and pants should do an okay job of keeping it in place.
At Bonjibon, we know that no one person knows as much as the collective. So if you have something to share, question, or correct: Let us know!