Something that’s really important to us at The Unedit is maintaining and amplifying important conversations in a way that you may not typically find them elsewhere – and that oftentimes coincides with a lack of general awareness. When it comes to periods, a shockingly small number of people received what you would call a sufficient amount of education, which largely is at fault of the education system and the societal stigma around menstruation. With that, we wanted to offer a safe, detailed insight into periods for our readers, so we teamed up with organic tampon company, OHNE, for our latest series: Bloody Brilliant. Each month we’ll be tackling a different aspect within the world of menstruation and with the help of experts, we’ll be taking you far beyond the usual ‘time of the month’ spiel that your awkward school nurse might have given you.
Whether you’re approaching menopause or have yet to have your first bleed, we all have an intimate relationship with our period care. Finding the right period product for you is a life-long journey, and one that sees its requirements change at each stage of life. Luckily, the variety of products available to help us out during that wonderful time of the month is ever increasing, alongside the rise in discussions around period poverty, period pollution and the effects of menstrual stigma. There’s never been a better time to talk about our personal health, and we’re here to help find your perfect period match.
In the words of OHNE’s very own Isabella Millington: “We're living in a period renaissance. There have literally never been more options for managing your period and, crucially, never have there been more sustainable options than we're spoiled with today.”
So without further ado, let’s dive into each of the options that are available on the market and saving your favourite underwear from disaster!
In the UK, pads (or sanitary towels) are the most popular period product of choice, offering a staple option that seemingly never fails to do its job, offering up to eight hours’ worth of comfort and protection simultaneously. They come in many varieties to suit our multiple needs; pads with wings to help them stay put? Check. Night-time pads for a heavy flow? Check. Panty liners for when it’s tailing off? Check. And over the last few years, we’ve seen this range expanding.
Now, pads exist in three forms: traditional, organic and reusable (yep, you read that right!). With growing concerns for our environment, our monthly care routines are becoming more sustainable and planet-safe than ever before. While reusable pads are made from cleanable cloth and work exactly as they seem they would, organic pads change the game by caring for both the environment and your intimate parts in a new way. Not only will you be helping the world around you when purchasing the organic option, your body will thank you for giving it the best quality care a pad can give too.
While most of us have used a tampon at least once in our lives – the average person using over 11,000 of them in their lifetime – the importance of using organically produced ones to our intimate health isn’t often discussed. With a surprising amount of complications linked to mass-produced tampons, and a very real lack of ingredient regulation, more and more of us are turning to more natural options to save the day.
Tampons, as opposed to pads, ensure almost no leakages and are a great option for when you want your period care to appear more discreet, but they don’t come without their pitfalls. We all know the pain of taking one out dry, we’ve heard the horror stories of Toxic Shock Syndrome and we’re waking up to the reality of their mass-produced problems.
This is where organically made tampons save the day. With all the pluses of a traditional tampon, and almost none of their negatives, why not buck the trend and ensure the best for your vagina? OHNE’s Isabella says that “standard tampons usually contain a cocktail of nasty chemicals and toxins, and they're often bleached white with chlorine bleach and additives – (because something you're seeing for approximately two seconds before shoving it in your vagina simply has to be pearly white, right?)”.
“The vagina has the thinnest, most absorbent skin of anywhere in the entire body - meaning that these toxins are not only getting very up close and personal with your bod, they're actually entering it.”
It's important to stress how rare something like TSS – which comes about as a result of harmful bacteria entering the body through prolonged use of tampons – truly is, but Isabella adds that “it's also worth noting that an organic cotton tampon has never once been linked to a case of TSS”, anywhere in the world. That’s got to say something for the more natural route of period protection.
Rising in popularity over the last few years, the menstrual cup is swiftly becoming a permanent fixture in our period care. Created to catch any and all of your blood inside its suction-cup style insertable dome, it allows for a type of clean period disposal not afforded to us by pads or tampons. Simply remove the cup every four to six hours, flow-dependent, wash and re-wear as needed.
Only needing to be sterilised between periods, the menstrual cup is said to last up to 10 years, making it well worth the investment today. This cost-efficiency and added internal cleanliness aren’t the cup’s only selling points though – it’s also massively environmentally friendly, producing zero waste with some brands even making their silicone cups recyclable.
All of us have go-to period pants, stains and all, but these knickers take the idea to the next level. Imagine taking those pants for your period, and having them absorb your flow as well – genius, right? And while these may not be for everyone, they can certainly help most of us.
Made with multi-layer technology that traps blood, period pants feature layers of moisture-absorbent cotton, anti-microbial lining and an outside leak-resistant barrier to ensure the blood transfers nowhere until the underwear’s first wash. After a full day’s wear – which can to catch up to two tampons worth of blood before needing to be changed – you simply wash the pants on a cold wash by machine or hand, and hang them up for use again tomorrow. With these pants on your side (quite literally), you can feel confident going about your day-to-day life without ever noticing your bleed.
Lesser known than its fellow sanitary products, the menstrual disc could be the underrated hero of the femme-care world. Simpler to use than they sound, you pinch the small medical-grade polymer discs, insert up towards your public bone and tuck into place. To remove, you hook your finger behind its ridged edge and pull down parallel to the floor, before tucking back into their original wrappers and disposing of them in the same way you would any sanitary product.
Offering up to 12 hours of protection, and said to feel more comfortable than wearing a tampon, a menstrual disc is the way to go for anything requiring sustained activity – or if you fancy joining the 7 out of 10 users that say they can forget they’re evening bleeding while using them. You can have sex, swim, workout and never have to worry about the usual mess.
With each of these products offering you choices for optimum protection, perhaps it’ll be worth exploring the market and seeing if there’s something better out there that suits you and your cycle more than what you’re currently working with. It’s a case of trial and error, but once you’ve got a product that truly works for you, you won’t look back!