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What are ‘menstrual products’?

There are many options for menstrual products to use when you have your period that can differ in price. The best way to find what’s right for you is to choose what feels most comfortable and what is most easily accessible for you. It’s also important to know that some menstrual products have a bigger impact on the environment than others.

If you haven’t already, we recommend checking out our pages on the menstrual cycle and what to expect when you have your first period


Pads are pieces of absorbent material that you stick to the inside of your underwear. Some have extra material on the sides called “wings” that fold over the edges of your underwear to better hold the pad in place and prevent any leakage. Pads are disposable and should be changed every 3 to 4 hours to keep yourself clean and comfortable.


Tampons are also made up of absorbent material, but in the form of a small cylinder shape that is inserted inside the vagina. They are also disposable and should be changed every 3-4 hours and not be worn while you sleep. Tampons are ideal if you want to go swimming or play sports, but again it’s best to choose whichever product you feel most comfortable in.  

Cloth Pads

Cloth pads are similar to pads but they can be washed and reused, meaning they’re better for the environment. To wash your cloth pad rinse it in cold water to remove as much blood as possible, then add it to your regular laundry.

Menstrual Cups

A menstrual cup is a small, flexible cup made of silicone or latex rubber. Instead of absorbing your period blood, like a tampon or pad, it catches and collects it. After inserting the cup it rests against the walls of your vagina, forming a seal to prevent leaks so the blood can simply drip into the cup. They only need to be emptied twice a day (depending on how heavy your period is) and can be worn while you sleep. Most are reusable so you can clean them and use them again!


Similar to a tampon, a sponge is inserted inside the vagina to absorb the blood. They are made from natural sea sponge. Most last about 6 months. They need to be rinsed out about every 3 hours and thoroughly cleaned, dried, and properly stored at the end of each menstrual cycle.

Period underwear

Period underwear is exactly like it sounds: underwear that soaks up menstrual blood. Period underwear has built in padding and absorbancy to prevent period leaks. They usually come in a range of kinds to suit where you are at in your period. These are convenient but they can be expensive at first ($20-40 for one pair). In the long run, period underwear will save you from having to pay for pads and tampons each month, and they last for about two years. It’s also kinder on the environment.

A note on sustainable period care

Did you know that tampons, pads, and panty liners contribute to more than 200,000 tonnes of waste globally every year? Alternative period products like menstrual cups, cloth pads, period underwear, and sponges are a great solution to minimise waste, although they’re not for everyone.

We recommend trying out a few different options to see what works best for you. Many people who menstruate use a combination of products depending on their unique needs.

Check out this video to hear about the experiences of four women trying out alternative period productst:

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