Written by Gabrielle Arcaïni, Mme L’Ovary.
So you’ve decided to make the jump from disposable period protection to an eco-friendly alternative. But how do you find the best-possible style, the one that most suits the particulars of your cycle? In the vast ocean of product options, it can be easy to find yourself adrift— we get it! Even though we’re happy to see the explosion of sustainable products out there it can sometimes feel overwhelming - we’re here to help.
Why use menstrual underwear at all?
We’re just going to come out and say it -“Disposable pads and tampons are far from the most comfortable option. Plastic wings that stick to your skin, weird smells due to synthetic materials, and the icky feeling of bathing in your own blood . . . well, what more do we need to say?”
This said, without even getting into the mountain of waste generated by using disposable products every month and the toxicity of the materials used to our health - the choice is pretty clear!
Let’s break this down:
The environmental argument
Between 10,000 and 15,000: that’s how many menstrual products a person will use over the course of their lifetime.
450 years: that’s how long it takes, at a minimum, for a tampon or pad to decompose (and don’t forget, that’s for something we use for just a few hours before throwing out).
The human health argument
A large study from 2016 confirmed the presence of 20 to 30 chemical products in tampons. These chemicals have adverse impacts on our endocrine systems and overall health.
Wait . . . what? Yep. You read that right. Plus, your vaginal tissues are some of your body’s most absorbent. We’ll just let you draw your own conclusions on that front.
We don’t know about you, but we don’t want our menstrual cycle to be synonymous with waste that harms either our bodies or the planet.
Whether it’s a question of saving money every month, protecting the Earth, looking after your health, feeling comfier in your undies, or simply honoring your menstrual cycle, there are lots of reasons to choose menstrual undies over disposable products.
So, what do you need to consider with a product to be able to make an informed choice? Here's just a few suggestions:
- The level of absorption
It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a light, moderate, or heavy flow—there’s a period underwear option out there just for you! So the first step to finding your forever undies is getting to know and name the nature of your flow.
A normal, healthy menstruation should be between 2 and 7 days, with at least one of those days being a medium to heavy bleed. On average, menstruators lose between 4 and 10 tablespoons of blood per cycle (and no, we don’t bleed to death). If you use a cup, you can measure your blood that way, but no worries if you don’t—you can also count your pads. Let’s take a closer look:
- Light flows: you use 1-3 pads or tampons a day
- Moderate flows: you use 3-5 pads or tampons a day
- Heavy flows: you use 5 or more pads or tampons a day
There are lots of companies that sell products for all types of flow. It’s up to you to choose something that matches your needs!
- The style
Every butt has its own cut!
Is yours calling out for something high-waisted? Are you looking for something closer to a thong? Maybe your style is all tomboy. Or maybe it’s more of the lacey vibe you’re after. One of the great things about the explosion of reusable period products is that you’ll almost certainly be able to find your style that makes you feel beautiful and, yes, even sexy! That’s right. It’s even possible to feel sexy when you’re on your period.
3. The fit
If you’re a mid-sized person, you can probably find pretty much any style of period underwear. But if you’re a bit bigger, the search for the perfect pair can be a little harder.
There’s a real dearth of plus-size undies out there, including period undies, and that absence is the subject of Julie Artacho’s quest for the right pair (article in French). Since activists started bringing this issue to the fore, a lot of companies have modified their sizing charts to be more inclusive (for real this time). That’s especially the case with Mme L’Ovary, a Quebecois company that developed the first period undies with removable pads. They’ve now got sizes ranging from 3XS to 4XL for certain styles.
Pssst! Get a 10% discount for Mme L’Ovary’s online store with promo code TEMPDROP.
If you are still working on tracking your cycle to make improvements to your PMS symptoms then you may still feel that all you want to do is wrap yourself in your favorite blanket, boil up some raspberry tea, cling to a hot water bottle, and . . . wear comfy undies!
Maybe you’ve already tried a reusable pad and the button snaps bother your inner thighs? Or maybe you’ve tried period undies and wish you didn’t need so many pairs to stay dry throughout the day and night?
Good news! A new and unique removable pad design has emerged, offering the best of both worlds. It’s a simple idea, really. You insert removable pads inside your undies, and they actually stay in place. Say goodbye to those snap pads and their migrating tendencies! Throughout the day, you can change your pad as needed, and you don’t even need to take off your undies, never mind your pants. Pretty cool, eh?
- The fabric
Okay, take a seat and brace yourself. I’m going to say something that might surprise you. Your menstrual cycle is a promise of new life. It’s your uterus saying, “Hey, I can make a human being, you know.” And your vagina is the sacred portal through which that human will emerge. So it makes good sense that you want to be careful about the materials and chemicals you cradle it in.
Unfortunately, some menstrual underwear brands use fabrics that leave something to be desired. Make sure your underwear is made from products that are antibacterial (natural fibers like cotton are the best) and doesn’t contain silver nanoparticles.
If you’re sensitive to dyes in your undies, then opt for 100% organic cotton without dyes.
Fun fact: Strong odors are produced when menstrual blood comes into contact with synthetic materials like plastic. When blood comes into contact with natural fabrics like cotton, the smell is way milder. So no need to worry about bad smells when you’re wearing menstrual undies!
6. The cost
We all know period undies are expensive! But don’t worry: over the long term, they offer huge returns on your investment. You don’t have to buy tampons or pads each month, it’s such a great feeling of freedom! Plus, a lot of companies offer discounts and rebates on your first purchase. It’s worth doing your research!
And did you know that your city might have a program to help with up to 50% of those costs? Thanks to the #sangdéchet movement, a lot of municipalities have started subsidizing sustainable hygiene products to make them more affordable for everyone. You just need to keep your receipt and show a proof of residence. You’ll get your check in the mail a few weeks later.
- The business’s values
What about the people making the products? What are their working conditions like? Is the manufacturing process eco-friendly? If a business’s social and environmental engagement are important to you, make sure you take a look at their website to learn more about their practices or reach out to them to find out.
In short, always remember that you’re making this decision for yourself. You deserve to feel comfortable every month, full stop! After all, you’ll be menstruating for around 40 years of your life, so it makes sense to live your cycle in peace and harmony with your values!
So are you ready to adopt a healthy, comfortable, and zero-waste lifestyle?
Get 10% off anything in Mme L’Ovary’s online store with promo code TEMPDROP.
*This is a sponsored article