After switching to reusable internal protection (from tampons to menstrual cups), and it being The. Best. Thing. Ever., I was curious about reusable menstrual pads. After trying them out, I am shocked to find that the whole disposable pads market is a massive con. Disposable pads are most definitely NOT superior to reusable pads.
We’re made to think that disposables are cleaner, fresher, more comfortable, more hygienic, more sterile, less embarrassing, etc, etc. Our culture tells us that periods are kind of gross, blood is gross, you need to stay fresh and clean and pretend you’re not menstruating, you need to be discreet so as not to offend anyone with your period and embarrass yourself. Disposables are seen as a grown up, sterile, appropriate way of dealing with menstruation. I think all of this is somewhat bullshit. Firstly because we shouldn’t feel embarrassed about menstruation, and secondly because we shouldn’t be sucked in to media and marketing that convinces us to buy stuff out of embarrassment, fear, and insecurity.
But as well as all the crunchy hippy reasons that you might switch to reusable pads (environment, consumerism, chemicals, etc), reusable pads actually address all the modern, somewhat bullshit, concerns (freshness, dryness, comfort, discreetness) that disposables claim to address. And, reusables actually seem to do a lot better at these tasks.
- Reusable pads are WAY more comfortable. Disposables are always advertised as being thick and cushion-comfortable, thin and discreet, slim and flexible. But they always feel a little bulky and stiff. Reusables don’t. They just don’t. You can’t tell you’re wearing them. They seem to mold better to your body, and because they’re fabric they breathe and move and have a nice texture. I don’t know what else to say. They are just way more comfortable.
- Reusable pads have less smell than disposables. There’s two things that cause smell: (1) blood being exposed to air, and (2) your vulva getting sweaty. Firstly, most reusable pad users say they find there’s a lot less blood smell from reusable pads. I personally find, unlike disposables, they don’t have any smell at all. So much for all that rubbish that pad companies spew about their disposables having scents added, and fancy-shmancy beads to draw blood away from the body, [insert technical bullshit], etc. The reusable pad addresses this with ease. Secondly, these pads are breathable because they’re fabric. Consequently you don’t get that hot, sweaty, and damp vulva feeling, that makes you constantly feel like you need to shower, and makes you smell down there. Reusables feel more hygienic as a result of (1) and (2).
- Reusable pads are dryer. You know when you pee but don’t change your pad, and then have to put your underwear back on, and you get that cold wet feeling of the wet pad going back against your skin? Yeah? Well that doesn’t happen with reusables. They seem to be much better at drawing away the blood, and then staying warm and dry. I don’t know how or why. But it’s true. They don’t feel cold and wet, and as I said above, you also don’t get the damp sweaty vulva feeling from lack of breathability. Also, they don’t leak.
The only downside I can see to using reusable cloth pads, is that you have to put them in a dry bag and carry them round with you during the day till you get home and chuck them in your washing machine – they’re really easy to clean. Some people might find that a bit “gross“, but if you want a superior product (which they certainly are) then I say it’s worth it. Also, [insert feminist rant about body shaming], we shouldn’t be embarrassed and made to feel that a normal bodily function is dirty. Why do some many women find the mere thought of reusables so disgusting? Because we’ve been cultured to, that’s why.
And now to quickly address the crunchy hippy reasons for loving reusables. Reusable menstrual products are better for the environment (you don’t want to know how much trash is made from disposables), they’re better for your body (you don’t want to know what suspicious ingredients go in to disposables), and they’re better for your wallet (disposables are expensive over a lifetime. Initial purchase of a reusable set might be expensive, but it’s an investment. Or, you can sew your own).
As always is the case with our western consumerist world, we’ve been tricked into the normalization of use of some product (disposable pads) that is actually pretty shitty: The product doesn’t really do what it says it does, we don’t need to have sterile external menstrual products, we don’t need to be embarrassed or feel insecure if we don’t use the product, the product costs a lot, trashes the environment, and isn’t great for our health. And so on. I conclude, the whole disposable pads market is a massive con.
Tags: Cloth pads are disgusting; Cloth pads are gross; resuable pads are gross; resuable pads are great; Cloth pads are great; why should I use cloth pads;