Types of Menstrual Products
There are many different types of period products on the market, offering women a multitude of options and potentially leading to confusion about which products are best for their needs.
Period essentials can be classified into two categories: disposable and reusable.
Disposable Period Products
Up until relatively recently, disposable period products have been the only option available for menstruating women. They include standard sanitary pads, tampons, and menstrual discs.
Reusable Period Products
Once thought unimaginable, reusable menstrual products - washable pads, period underwear, menstrual cups, and sponges - are growing in popularity as convenient, cost-effective, and environment-friendly options. Some of them can serve a woman for as long as 10 years.
Choosing the Right Menstrual Product
It is common for women to opt for one or two types of period products and switch between them depending upon which best fits their needs at the moment.
Generally, choosing the right product depends on several factors, including women's menstrual flows, lifestyles, product's cost, and period duration.
The type of products a woman will use - especially in terms of their absorbency and quantity - will greatly depend on her menstrual flow. Those with scanty periods generally get by with thin pads or tampons, while women with heavy periods that exceed 80 mL of blood loss need high-absorbency pads and tampons or cups.1
A woman's lifestyle, including level of physical activity, will influence her choice of period products. Those with a sedentary lifestyle or constant access to a restroom may be comfortable using pads; whereas, those on-the-go or physically active would benefit from products that offer longer protection, like cups or discs.
When it comes to a monthly cost of period products, pads and tampons are cheaper ($4-10 per package) in comparison to menstrual cups or period underwear ($25-40 per unit).2 However, because the latter two are reusable and, thus, last longer, they are considered a more cost-effective option in the long-run.
Although specifics will depend on the flow, each type of menstrual product has its defined maximum duration. As such, disposable products are expected to be changed every two to four hours; period underwear worn no longer than eight hours; and cups and discs placed a maximum of 12 hours.3
Maintaining Menstrual Hygiene
Regardless of the type of period products women choose, it is their menstrual hygiene that makes them either work for them or against them.
In order to stay fresh and healthy while on a period, menstrual products should be changed as often as needed, depending on a woman's flow. Leaving soaked pads or tampons may not only cause unpleasant scents and accidental leaks, but it might cause unnecessary infections.
Proper menstrual hygiene also consists of taking showers twice a day or more, using warm water, and avoiding harsh, scented cleansing products. Experts also recommend not douching as it can disrupt vaginal bacterial flora and increase the likelihood of infections.
Lastly, to optimize menstrual cycles and prevent irregular periods, women are encouraged to eat a healthy diet that is rich in phytoestrogenic foods, like oats, alfalfa, or mung beans. Moreover, women can keep their hormones in check with natural supplements, like Macafem Healthy Periods, to enjoy regular and hassle-free periods.
Undoubtedly, period products are some of the most frequently purchased essentials throughout women's lives. As a result, the market is full of different options for everyone woman's menstrual needs, lifestyle, and budget. Menstrual products can be either disposable - which include sanitary pads, tampons, and discs - or reusable, consisting of menstrual cups, sponges, underwear, and washable pads. Each comes with various absorbencies (low to high), prices ($6-40), duration (2-12 hours), and sustainability (up to 10 years). Nevertheless, having a variety of period products is one part on the path to healthy menstruation. Maintaining good menstrual hygiene, eating a balanced diet, and balancing hormones with supplements, like Macafem Healthy Periods, can also help women take the dread out of monthly menses.
- Duquesne University. (n.d.). The Ultimate Guide to Feminine Health. Retrieved May 11, 2020 from https://onlinenursing.duq.edu/master-science-nursing/the-ultimate-guide-to-feminine-hygiene/
- Harvard School of Business. (2016). The Ecological Impact of Feminine Hygiene Products. Retrieved May 11, 2020 from https://digital.hbs.edu/platform-rctom/submission/the-ecological-impact-of-feminine-hygiene-products/#
- InformedHealth.org. (2009). Heavy periods: Overview. Retrieved May 11, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279294/
- Planned Parenthood. (n.d.) How do I use tampons, pads, period underwear, and menstrual cups? Retrieved May 11, 2020 from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/health-and-wellness/menstruation/how-do-i-use-tampons-pads-and-menstrual-cups
- The University of Texas at Austin. (n.d.). Period Products: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Retrieved May 11, 2020 from https://uthealthaustin.org/blog/period-products
- Unicef. (2019). Guide to Menstrual Hygiene Materials. Retrieved May 11, 2020 from https://www.unicef.org/wash/files/UNICEF-Guide-menstrual-hygiene-materials-2019.pdf
- Clinical Evidence. (2012). Menorrhagia. Retrieved May 11, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3285230/
- The University of Texas at Austin. (n.d.). Retrieved May 11, 2020 from https://uthealthaustin.org/blog/period-products
- New Zealand Family Planning. (n.d.). Period Products. Retrieved May 11, 2020 fromhttps://www.familyplanning.org.nz/advice/periods/period-products