As more consumers learn to be environmentally conscious with their purchases, sustainable products also steadily grow in popularity. For instance, the feminine hygiene market now offers eco-friendly alternatives to your typical sanitary napkins and tampons. We’re definitely thankful for these products, but the wide variety of options in the market can feel overwhelming to curious newcomers.
So to make things easier for you, we’ve compiled a masterlist explaining the pros and cons of each sustainable menstrual product, online stores that offer these options, and actual product reviews from fellow ladies!
1. Menstrual Cups
A flexible funnel-shaped cup that comes in different sizes, the menstrual cup is folded vertically prior to insertion so that it sits below your cervix.
Pros: Menstrual cups are made out of rubber or silicone to ensure flexibility and reusability, so there will definitely be less waste production and menstrual discomfort on your end. Plus, you no longer have to worry about leakages because menstrual cups can hold more blood than tampons and napkins. Cups also help you save more money since they can last up to a decade with proper sanitation and usage.
Cons: Inserting the cup is tricky at first because it’s difficult to find a size that matches both your vagina and period flow. Taking it out can also be a chore since you have to thoroughly clean out your own period blood before inserting the cup again.
“I will be honest and say it takes guts (and hard work!) to get used to its insertion, and the process makes it tempting to resort back to menstrual pads. But like all things, give it time and you'll eventually start to appreciate how liberating it feels to use one. The cup is by no means perfect, but I find that its convenience outweighs the occasional leaks. Since then, I started to welcome my periods with open arms because it actually never feels like my time of the month with menstrual cups on my side.” —Micah
“I like using menstrual cups because not only has it saved my wallet from being empty from monthly napkin purchases, it has also helped me become eco-friendly. It is also a really inclusive product because it comes in different sizes that can cater to many women. I felt hesitant at first because the idea seemed so foreign to me but after learning how to use it, I felt at ease during my period.” —Irra
“I think almost every menstrual cup user will agree with me when I say that the biggest hurdle is using it for the very first time—it's a bit daunting and unfamiliar. But after using it for the first time, I realized that my initial fears were silly. It's cost-efficient, comfortable, easy to use, easy to clean, and practical (especially now that I mostly stay at home). There are days when menstrual cups are so comfortable to use, I sometimes forget when I'm on my period.” —Sam
2. Period Panties
Period panties are stain-resistant and multi-layered underwear that can be worn alone or with other menstrual products depending on your flow.
Pros: Period panties are convenient, budget-friendly, and easy to wear. They also feel a lot like your regular underwear—breathable and comfortable!
Cons: Not all period panties can prevent leakage when worn alone, especially during days with heavier flows. So if you’re not using them as a mere pantyliner replacement, you’ll have to use another menstrual product for added protection.
“I use period panties both on my heavy and light days. For heavy days, I love the extra layer of protection it gives me. I no longer worry about stains especially during nighttime when I’m sleeping. For light days, I no longer have to use pantyliners or thin pads. I’ve always disliked the feeling of pantyliners so when I had the option to get rid of them completely, I grabbed the chance. It also reduces waste so it helps the environment.” —Ella
“I particularly use period panties for my lighter days so I don’t have to use pantyliners! I recommend other girls to try it too since it’s convenient and hassle-free, and it helps your wallet and the environment at the same time. If you plan on wearing period panties on your heavier days though, make sure to use another menstrual product with it to ensure zero leakage.” —Joy
3. Organic Pads/Tampons
Organic pads and tampons are biodegradable and hypoallergenic as they’re made of cotton instead of plastic.
Pros: Switching to organic pads or tampons is easy and comfortable because they’re worn like their traditional counterparts. Despite being plastic-free, they’re also priced similarly to synthetic menstrual products.
Cons: Although free of non-biodegradable materials, organic pads and tampons are still disposable. Basically, this option isn’t completely waste-free, and you consequently won’t save extra money from making the switch.
“My time of the month usually becomes very stressful for me and my body and the guilt of being so wasteful doesn't help at all. So when I started using biodegradable pads from Nala Woman, it was a major shift in my period care routine. It's so comfortable that I sometimes forget it's even there. I experience no leaks, no itchiness, and no guilt. All in all, it really helped me to have a good relationship with my body and the planet.” —Sophia
“I definitely recommend using biodegradable pads or tampons, especially if you’re a newbie to sustainable menstrual products. Other eco-friendly alternatives might be intimidating at first, but you can try dipping your toes with biodegradable pads since they’re similar to your regular pads in terms of usage and wearability. But I’d have to say that they’re a bit better than regular pads in that they’re more sustainable and comfortable!” —May
4. Reusable Pads
These washable cloth pads are created with multiple highly-absorbent layers that soak up blood and prevent leakages.
Pros: Washable pads are straightforward and hassle-free because using them doesn’t involve any insertion, unlike menstrual cups and organic tampons. Cloth pads can also last up to five years with proper care, so they can save you money in the long-term!
Cons: Although easy to wear, reusable pads can be a hassle to remove when you’re not at home because soiled pads are ideally stored in a leak-proof wet bag. Reusable pads of varying brands also have different cleaning instructions, so washing them might take some getting used to for first-time users.
“When I started using cloth pads, I stopped experiencing itchiness down there. It is super gentle against the skin and there are no leakages if used properly! Washing them was easy to get used to since I learned that I could incorporate it into my daily routine like washing it when taking a shower or washing it with the rest of my undergarments. I never had to worry about stockpiling again, and it’s also very empowering to know that I am throwing less waste!” —Mau
“Switching to reusable pads was one of the best things I’ve done last year! I never have to worry about stockpiling and spending on disposable pads every month. Plus, it doesn’t irritate your skin at all.” —Mesh
“Cloth pads are very comfortable because of the pure cotton layer. I like that the inner cotton doesnt shamble or shed unlike those of disposable ones when you wear them too long. It’s fulfilling using the pads, knowing my monthly period will no longer add dozens of pads to waste. I personally think they are of good use when you stay home since changing outside may be difficult.” —Jean
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