Life used to be so simple when Aunt Flo came to town. Pads or tampons. Tampons or pads. Recently during a girl's night on the patio, my friends and I were talking about the myriad new options that today’s women have once a month. To be honest, I have always been a tampon girl. It’s easy, cheap, no muss, no fuss. But for the sake of research, I decided to try some new (and old) options during my last arts and crafts week at Panty Camp.
To my surprise, pads have come a long way. They come in a multitude of sizes and absorptions, some have flaps, some are even organic. I get the pad’s appeal. They are cheap, easy, disposable and you don’t have to worry about putting anything where is isn’t supposed to go. On the other hand, I wear a lot of skinny jeans and I wear thongs, two things that don’t really work with pads.
Just like pads, the tampons of today are not like when I was coming of age (and I am not that old). They come in more absorbencies then I even knew I had, different shapes and even party type packaging. Like pads, they are cheap, easy, disposable and unlike pads they are practically invisible except for the telltale string. For me, there's not a lot of cons, but I asked my friends who don’t use them as their first choice. The number one complaint was having to replace them multiple times a day, and that sometimes leakage is an issue.
The Diva Cup and its counterparts on the market were new to me, and to be honest not something I would have tried on my own. The Diva Cup is basically just that, a reusable cup that you wear internally, like a diaphragm, that “collects” rather than absorbs for up to 12 hours. If, I'm going to be honest, the Diva Cup kind of creeped me out. I didn't really like the collection process, nor having to rinse and clean it for reuse. Honestly it just seemed very complicated. If you can get beyond those issues, the benefits are going a whole day without worrying about having to replace or deal with it and that it's totally invisible.
Thinx is relatively new to the period market, founded in 2014, but has already made waves as the first-ever period panties. They have a texture that's similar to a bathing suit and focus on absorption—it's like wearing a pad without actually wearing a pad. Thinx come in five underwear styles with differing levels of absorbency, from hip-hugger ($34) to thong ($24). That's a pretty high upfront cost, but if they can replace a lifetime supply of tampons, they might save money in the long run.
I admit I was very skeptical of this product as I expected it to feel, well, icky. To my surprise the thong version was surprisingly sexy for period underwear and I didn’t feel weird wearing it. The cheeky was also really flattering, but for me the problem was the smaller styles didn't have enough absorption, and the larger ones were too much underwear—skinny jeans, remember? It does feel a little weird to bleed freely this way. I guess after 30-plus years, I am trained to not want to do this to underwear. Also you do really need to wash these thoroughly. I will say they are great to sleep in, though.
Reusable Cloth Pads
You know what? I decided not to even bother on this one. No thank you. It was too much work, and there are better options on the market. Plus Aunt Flo’s visit was already over this month.
So what did my exploration into the world of today’s period management teach me? One, the market is going to keep changing—and hopefully, improving—so you should always keep looking. Two, I'll always go with my tried and true in a pinch. Fear not, my trusted tampon, you will still always have a place in my purse.