Sick of using non-environmentally friendly sanitary items? These two re-usable products will change the way you manage your period for the better.
I'm a big fan of re-usable sanitary items. Not only are they better for the environment, but once mastered, they're much easier to use than tampons or pads, which have to be changed regularly, essentially disrupting the 'flow' (pardon the pun) of your day.
My re-usable products of choice are THINX Period Proof Underwear and the JuJu Reusable Menstrual Cup. Before we get into the 411 of these products, I have to give you some background on how much I actually bleed. Strap in.
I was 14 when I had my first 'big period' moment. I was in Scotland sharing a bed with my Mum. I was in the heaviest stage of my flow and wearing a gigantic overnight pad that was two tabs short of being a nappy. In the middle of the night, I was awoken from my blissful slumber to the feeling of moist sheets...so much moistness. Fleeing to the bathroom, the harsh lights revealed that I hadn't lost control of my bladder at the age of 14 (a relief) but my long pyjama legs were coated in blood, from my belly button to just below my knees. If this was the state I was in, I could only imagine what the rest of the bed looked like.
I'd been having my period for six months at this stage, so I felt like I should have had the hang of it all by now. I mean, I mastered the tampon pretty quickly - after I got over she shock of realising that I had to fit 'this' into my vagina?! - but I wasn't sure what to do in this situation. I woke up my Mum, who assured me that I wasn't dying, but I could see from the look in her eyes that I wasn't mean to be losing that much blood.
Being a heavy bleeder, I was sceptical of these sanitary alternatives. Do they really work? And more importantly, would they work for me? I needed something to manage my nightly haemorrhaging. All I could do was give them a go.
The Menstrual Cup
A year ago I bought the Australian-made JuJu cup - mostly for environmental purposes but also as a bit of a Fuck You to the sanitary items tax.
Here are the cold hard facts.
The silicone is a lot harder than other models and there is a thick rim around the top which can get caught on removal around the fold/ridge area of the labia minora (the inner folds of your vulva). So, if this is your first rodeo, I implore you to go slooooowly.
It took me around three months to get used to using my menstrual cup and it can be a slower process for others, so just take your time with it and don't stress if you can't make it work right away.
It's also worth noting that companies actually know their products extremely well...more so than you might think. If they give you a template to follow on what cup you should order, don't disregard it by ordering a larger cup that holds more liquid. Those types are designed for vaginal canals that have had babies pass through them, so you might have a little trouble squeezing it on up there.
You need to boil you menstrual cup in a saucepan at the beginning of your period, for hygiene purposes, but then you can just wash it in the shower or sink (morning and night) for the rest of your cycle.
All in all, I think this is an amazing concept. You’re going to have to shop around for the best one that suits you and your bits, and yes, the routine is hard to get into when you’ve been using tampons all of your menstrual life but it gets a big thumbs up from me!
This product is my new found favourite - THINX period proof underwear. I was sceptical about THINX and was expecting to be triggered with a similar haemorrhaging event to the one described earlier, but so far, so good.
They kind of feel like you're wearing swimmer bottoms, but they look like regular underwear! I have used them for two cycles now and I only sleep in them. When I wake up, most of the blood has been absorbed, minus a few clots. Much like a pad, they do the bulk of the overnight work but you'll have to change them (or pop in your menstrual cup) as soon as you wake up.
The absorption works with four different layers of protection:
The only shortcoming I can mention is that the 'Hip-Hugger' style elastic has frayed in the washing machine despite being washed in a delicates bag but the 'Hi-Waist' style is a dream. The only tip you need to follow is to ensure you buy the correct size – trust me, you will need a snug fit.
Image: 'Hi-Waist' designed to hold two tampons worth of blood.
I would think about using these throughout the day, but I think it's best to back it up with a tampon or liner. I asked my friend Kate, who once used THINX throughout the day, to share her experiences.
"I loved the idea of THINX products. Their marketing is genius and their products, surprisingly, are very stylish. I was keen to give them a go but wasn't ready to rely on them solely. I was a few days away from getting my period but thought I'd try them out, just to see how it felt to wear them for an entire day. I was on an aeroplane and I'm told this can cause your period to come a little earlier than expected, which it d. Honestly, it was a real mess. I felt like I'd bled into 'regular' underwear and ended up staining the pants I was wearing, not ideal."
"Since then, I've only ever used THINX in conjunction with a tampon during the start of my cycle. I also like to wear them when I'm ovulating. They're great for helping you to feel dry during those mucus producing days."
Both the JuJu Cup and Thinx “Hi-Waist” underwear are around $55 AUD.
Images sourced from www.shethinx.com and www.juju.com.au.
Caitlin is a twenty-something human and Sydney-based nurse. Lurk her @caitlinlorang.