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78 Responses to Making the Switch to Reusable Menstrual Products

  1. The Happy Womb  

    Great review of products, thanks Lauren. I have yet to make the shift to reusuable… But the more I read, the more I’m tempted.

    The topic of periods has been much on my mind these past few months as I have been putting together my first book Moon Time: A guide to celebrating your menstrual cycle. Doing the final proof today, it should be available in paperback in mid Feb from Amazon.com and in e-book from this weekend from The Happy Womb.com

    Lucy Pearce(also of Dreaming Aloud!)

  2. MrsWJAA

    I love my reuseable products:)

    I’ve used sea sponges in the past (when I had a job where I had free access to a private restroom) and loved them. You do have to be careful about laughing/caughing/etc. when they are nearly full though or you will have a temporary gush. I always wore liners with them for that reason.
    I am currently weighing my options on a cup, but until I find one I really like, I’ll keep using my cloth pads.
    -A note to anyone that wants to try cloth pads: Order one pad (or a small sample of pads) from the company that you want to try, because you may find that their particular style isn’t comfortable to you. This way you aren’t spending a lot on a style you don’t like and won’t use.

    • Lauren  

      That’s good to know about sponges, and a great tip for pads! I know a lot of companies have small sample packs available, and I’ve seen specials where some will comp you a liner to try out.

    • Lynlee Hall

      Try sckoon cup. I love mine and the design has been way more comfortable compared to the diva cup that I had problems with before

  3. Valerie

    Yep yep yep. I wish I had known about these products years ago, because they are not only greener but also much better. I use a cup and have done for 4 years and I have just made my own pads to re-use and they seem great. I tried the softcup for a month or so, but went back to the mooncup which I much prefer. The only thing I would mention for women trying the mooncup for the first time is to make sure you trim the stem enough and don’t be too timid with insertion. I was very uncomfortable the first few times, then a bit of re-arranging and it was brilliant. Thanks for the post.

    • Lauren  

      “Don’t be too timid with insertion.” Yes! That’s perfect advice. I really have to rotate and shove and tweak till it feels right, and then it’s fine for the rest of the day.

  4. Laura

    Thanks for this article! I’m thinking about switching to a diva or something similar and this gave me alot to think about, esp since I have been having problems with tampons since since the birth of one of my kids.

  5. Nadia

    Wonderful review. I had never heard of free bleeding, and oddly enough it doesn’t irk me as much as it would have a few years ago. I’ve come a long way.

    I tried the Diva cup a while back and it was a disaster. I know you can’t technically lose it in your body but mine did get “sucked” up and I had a very hard time getting it out. Very hard. I was freaked out and never tried again. I haven’t had a period in almost 3 yrs (yay for extended breastfeeding) but when I do, I plan on mustering the courage to try it again…

    So, here’s a question. If the stem is useless, why do they even add one?

    • Lauren  

      Oh, no, it must feel frightening not to be able to retrieve it. One other tip I read was, in a case like that, to leave it alone for half an hour or hour or so in case trying to retrieve it has caused any slight swelling of those tissues. I hope it’s easier for you next time! Why the stem? I have no idea. Honestly. Maybe the manufacture process? Bizarre to me.

      I am, by the way, so jealous of your three years without a period. I got my period back at 6 months postpartum with my first, and 3 months (!!!!) with my second, barely after my lochia had ended. I was so mad. This was with exclusive breastfeeding on cue and cosleeping, too. Ah, well, at least it gives me fodder for articles like this. 🙂

      • Michaela  

        I use the Diva Cup and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself! However, from what I’ve read, the stem is supposed to help with removal since it’s easier to grip than the rounded base when it’s placed up inside. It’s helped me get mine out for sure.

      • Lauren  

        Thanks, Michaela! I rechecked the FAQ, and you’re right that it says the stem can help for retrieval. Huh! I’ve changed that in the article. It does say not to use it to rotate it when inserting, so that must be what I was remembering. Go figure!

    • Samantha Kirkpatrick

      So for those of you who occasionally have your sponge/cup/tampon sucked up too deeply for you to comfortably reach I have found that squatting really low or laying on your back with your legs spread like in the missionary position drastically shortens the vaginal canal and makes it SUPER easy to remove. Sometimes my bf takes me by surprise and after I find my sponge is as deep in my vagina as it can be and just squatting with my feet on the bathtub’s walls makes removal super easy.

  6. Rachael  

    Fab post- totally covers EVERYTHING!!! I’m a UK organic cloth pad maker…been promoting and making cloth pads for 20 years now, but also sell Moon sponges and cups cos it’s great for women to have choices and to find whats most comfortable for them. I’m a complete pad lover myself, but I do use a sponge on occasions! I’m also keen to promote a loving relationship with your period- which I think using cloth pads is a step in the right direction! Thanks Lauren 🙂

  7. Aunt Flo  

    Wonderful post, but you didn’t mention Jam Sponges!! Sponge Tampons with attitude! We are the Marmite of reusables…women either love us or hate us 🙂 check out our website http://www.jamsponge.co.uk

  8. Rachel

    I’ve used toilet paper (rolled up) since I was a teenager and was stuck without a pad one day. I know it isn’t the most environmentally friendly option but it has been very effective and cheap for me. I have always wondered why more people don’t do this.

  9. Sylvia@MaMammalia

    Thanks for such a great collection of info! I bought my 1st menstrual cup recently and after one trial, I’m not sure I got the right one for me (Lunette). I had such a hard time getting it out that I had to have my husband do it!!! I’m going to experiment again between cycles, but I’m still kind of freaked out. I may end up ordering the smaller, more flexible size…or try something else because I’m determined to find a reusable solution!

    • Lauren  

      Eek, that would be nerve-racking! I have to admit I don’t know much about the differences between the brands of cups. I hope you find one that works well for you!

    • Julie A

      I found out about menstrual cups over 20 years ago from a poster at uni but at the time they were really expensive and the shipping from the UK was even dearer!
      I eventually got around to trying one but also found it difficult to insert ….as I bought a “cheaper” menstrual cup and found it not rigid enough to place properly. Then after a bit more research I found a 7-fold method and others and problem solved!
      the only issue I have is as I age and my periods get lighter, once the rubra (the real bleeding/red) is gone toward the end, I find it uncomfortable to insert because of dryness but this is easily solved with a little lube or olive oil to the rim when I can be bothered 🙂
      And btw, the stem makes removing easier to reach for me

  10. Martha

    Great article! Glad Rags brought me here from the FB page. And I have already passed your article on to a few friends! I LOVE love my reusable pads! I have an easy wash routine that has left me with NO stains after 2 years of use, even on my all white topped pads!! I rinse well in cold water then I splash on some hydrogen peroxide. Then I drop it in the special cute little can I bought for my period! 😀 Then wash after cycle over!!

    I also found I prefer my lighter topped pads cause I can really tell how much is there. On the dark pads it feels like I don’t really know how it is going and if it time to change.

    The other upside that I don’t think you mentioned is that my period and related symptoms have gotten less since using cloth! I have lighter (shorter and less flow)periods and NO irritation and rashes from disposable products that made me miserable days 2/3-6!! 😀

    So as a user- thanks for helping get the word out!! 😀

  11. Lori  

    Great blog! I didn’t need convincing to switch, but there were several options out there I didn’t know about. I’m most interested in the reusable tampon idea (I’ve used the DivaCup for 5 years, but I’d like to learn how to make the tampons for the nonprofit I founded – Empower Women in Africa) and might buy the pattern posted here and learn to knit!

    Thanks for all the info!

  12. Mocha Mama

    I’ve been using GladRags for 14 years now and have a friend who is exploring reusable menstrual products. When I first purchased them my mother was kind of shocked (I was in my 20’s) that I would even want to be bothered with having to soak them and wash them because that’s what she did as a girl (like mother, like daughter!). I’m sure the money I saved not buying disposables is what I used to pay of my student loans!

    And as a bonus, after giving birth, if you’re sore, soak some nighttime reusable pads in a tea of comfrey root and put in the freezer. Use that instead of an ice pack. Learned that from a male naturopath.

    • Lauren  

      That’s so funny about your mom’s reaction. The more things change, right?

      Great idea for the postpartum preparations. I froze some with diluted witch hazel and some with an herbal blend. They felt so soothing!

  13. Alicia C.  

    Great review! I love that I now have an all-in-one-place spot to bookmark for future reference. So far, I’m convinced that I’d love to have cloth pads and a Diva Cup-type product. I like tampons, but I just have a hard time accepting reusable one… right now. I may change my mind. Heck, I never thought I’d be on-board with cloth pads until I read the series of Mama cloth posts on Becoming Crunchy last year!

    • Lauren  

      It helps to read about someone else’s experience liking something, huh? It took me several times reading about cloth pads before I made the switch … and then I wish I had done it earlier! I’m not sure I want to try cloth tampons, either, but they do sound intriguing.

  14. Erica @ ChildOrganics  

    I am so excited about all of the options our daughters will have when the time comes! When I discovered the Divacup I thought it was the greatest thing on earth, I wanted to jump up and down and tell everyone!
    I’ve never heard of a few of these options and I’m excited about all of the safe and natural choices out there.
    Like Nadia, I’m going on 3 years with no cycle. I suppose my Divacup will still be good to go when it’s time.
    Thanks for all the info!

  15. Crunchy Con Mommy  

    I am still not sure I’m ready to make the switch totally, but I should sew some reusable pads for the end when I have light days but can’t go in just undies unless I want to change them often!

  16. Ashley

    For my last four cycles, I have used the Diva Cup, and cloth pads only at the beginning and end of the cycle. While wearing the Cup, there is no need to wear anything under it. These products have changed my life!! I actually, dare I say it, almost look forward to my period because I am so in love with my Cup! (FYI: I did need to trip the stem all the way off, but now I can’t feel a thing when it’s in.)

  17. Megan

    I have used a Diva Cup for years and love it. It is more confortable than any mainstream product I have ever used. Of course it is also more economical and better for mother earth! Thanks for the great article.

  18. Katie S.

    I just wanted to mention another cloth pad company. They are called Party In My Pants and were started by two sisters in Ashland, WI. Their website is: http://www.partypantspads.com/


  19. Carol

    I have used the disposible cups, I did not like those ones. I had looked for the Diva cup which was supposed to be avaliable at Rite Aid, but wasnt. Im a little queasy about the cloth pads. I cant cloth diaper my kids without getting grossed out about the smell of the diapers after just a few uses and the fact they all ways end up getting rashes even with natural or Free detergents. I however hate having my period and wonder why they can’t just make toilets every home. I am currently pregnant with our 3rd child and am seriously thiking of the cloth pads, just because i hate having to wear pads that are like stuff twin sized mattress.

  20. 'Becca

    Great article! I linked it to my article on alternative menstrual products because you’ve reviewed some options I didn’t. I have been a happy user of reusable cups since 1997 and cloth pads since 2000.

    Sea sponges are animals. This is worth mentioning since some people do not use any animal products. Personally, I do use some animal products, but I am freaked out by the idea of putting a dead animal in my vagina.

    One of my favorite things about the cup is that–unlike tampons and, presumably, sponges–when I am swimming or soaking in a bath, it does not absorb water from underneath that will then dribble out of me slowly after I get out of the water as flow coming in from above displaces the water. I always hated that phenomenon!