Pads and tampons are not a long term solution, nor are they healthy. The majority of top brands
A tampon can not be used longer than 4 hours before you put yourself at risk for Toxic Shock
Syndrome (T.S.S.), which is a rare, life threatening complication of certain bacterial infections.
Knowing that, let’s do the math. If in a 24 hour period, you pushed each tampon to the maximum 4
hours, you would need 6 tampons for that day. If your cycle goes on for 7 days, that is 42
tampons. If you change them every 3 hours, it is 8 tampons in a 24 hour period and 56 for a 7 day
cycle. To stock up for a year, you would need between 504 to 672 tampons.
The same goes for pads. Not only is that a lot of cost and space needed, it is also a lot of
waste. Now, if we take this information and use it for our everyday life, it seems normal. Women
usually have enough on hand for a cycle, maybe some extra to start the next. The cost and
storage space are spread out every month rather than yearly. If everyday life is disrupted, and
you can’t just go out and buy the next supply, you will be anxious to say the least. Not only are
there other needs to take care of. A menstrual cycle seems to be the cherry on top.
If the situation takes months to resolve and you are left with the option to scavenge, how many
other women are going to be doing the same thing? This is where long term reusable options
come into play. Some of these include;
●Washable Menstrual Pads
With these products you have to wash them, store them, and repeat. Using any of the more
porous items like; the sponges, pads, and crochet tampons need to be dried thoroughly or you risk
them getting moldy and smelly. Most likely you won’t want to use them again. I found the most
convenient to be the cups.They have to be cleaned and dried thoroughly , and inserted with clean
hands. They aren’t soft and porous like the other options.Cleaning requires less water, important if
you are on the go or are rationing water.
Different products can be used together while you are still getting use to them. For example,
the cups, sponges and crochet tampons can be used with the reusable pads until you are
accustomed to how they work, or how well they work.
I asked other women what they had used and their experiences; most women preferred the
cup. Some had used the pads, a few used the sponges, none had used the crochet tampons.
Some switched between cup and pad. The sponge was one I had considered, one woman gave
her experience, it involved having a “full “ sponge, and then laughing or sneezing and then that
sponge wringing out . I could imagine that happening, it dashed about 99% of the chance that I
would try it
Some people have no issues. They seem like they would be easy enough to clean and allow to
dry without having to question the dry length and wonder if anything as now growing on it. I am
unsure on how long you can leave in, before cleaning. I am sure it varies in that current flow being
light or heavy. Cups you can go 12 hours in between emptying and cleaning before reinserting.
Inserting and getting it to open tends to be the more difficult part to learn. If you don’t get the seal
right it can be uncomfortable and experience leaks. After you have gotten it in and it is correct, it
feels like you aren’t on a menstrual cycle. The cups have an average lifetime of 10 years, most
brands come in 2 sizes. It’s a great feeling to not watch the garbage fill up and of course looking
down and just seeing the mess of red that I at least never got use to.
It always gave me a feeling of misery. When I first looked into the idea of reusable menstrual
products, the pads I came across 1st but , I don’t have a washer or dryer in our apartment, and
taking them to get washed posed it’s own new set of dislikes. Paying for a separate wash and dry,
buying enough to make it through a cycle, and storing them until washing them. My other option
was to buy less, hand wash and dry and hope the high humidity (75% on average), allowed them
to dry without adding bacteria or worse. This would mean adding to my misery and questioning
how well the job was done.
The crochet tampons I have not used, though I am sure you still risk T.S.S. The only
differences are, A- it is reusable, so less waste. B-less chemicals pending on material. The goal is
to create less waste while saving money. I encourage you to try different methods and see what
works best for you. Remember to wash thoroughly and dry any product prior to use and storage.
– Melissa Christel