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Tired of Pads and Tampons? 3 Alternatives to Try

Earlier this week, I stumbled upon an article describing a new menstrual product. Named “Mensez,” it was created by Daniel Dopps, a male chiropractor from Kansas. Essentially, it is an adhesive “lipstick” that is applied to the labia minora, causing it to stick together and collect menstrual blood. The adhesive can be broken down with urine, so blood and urine wash away into the toilet.  Apparently, it’s “safe, secure, and clean.” Dopps adds, “we’re using the vagina like a bladder just like tampons do.”

Okay… WHAT?? The vagina is not meant to be used like a bladder, and that is not even close to how tampons work. Not only does this product sound incredibly uncomfortable and unhygienic, is unclear whether Dopps is even aware that the vagina and the urethra are in fact two different things. Furthermore, in a response to a comment on his Facebook page, he writes “you as a woman should have come up with a better solution than diapers and plugs, but you didn’t. Reason being women are focused on and distracted by your period 25% of the time, making them far less productive than they could be. Women tend to be far more creative than men, but their periods…stifle them and play with their heads.”

            I’m wary of a person who has never had a vagina creating any sort of menstrual device, especially with such egregious knowledge of female anatomy. I’m even more offended by Dopps’s misogynistic rambling and his attitude that he knows more about periods than we do.

All this said, I do recognize that pads and tampons have their limits. So, I researched some alternative menstrual devices that actually make sense.

1. THINX underwear

via THINX

THINX was cofounded by Miki Agrawal, Radha Agrawal, and Antonia Dunbar. They also created the THINX foundation, a global initiative for female empowerment and menstrual education.

THINX underwear are made up of four layers that make them “anti-microbial, moisture-wicking, absorbent, and leak-resistant.” The top layer absorbs liquid into the layer beneath it, so you can’t feel the moisture and it doesn’t feel like sitting in a diaper of your own blood. They are reusable and require a little special care: rinsing in cold water right after wearing, a cold wash in the laundry machine, and hanging to dry.

THINX come in 6 different styles that have varying levels of absorbency: the hiphugger, hi-waist, and boyshort for heavy flow days, the sport for medium flow days, and the cheeky and thong for light flow days. One pair of THINX ranges from $24 to $39. Also, when you buy a pair of THINX, you fund The THINX Global Girls Clubs, educational programs regarding human rights, sexual/reproductive health, and financial literacy for teenage girls around the world.

 

2. The Menstrual Cup

via Women’s Health Magazine

The menstrual cup is usually made of medical-grade silicone and shaped like a bell. It is worn in the vagina and collects menstrual blood. Every 4-12 hours, depending on how heavy your flow is, you remove it, empty the blood into a toilet, rinse it out, and insert it again. At the end of your cycle, you can sterilize it with boiling water.

The menstrual cup is sustainable and cost effective. The average woman spends $3000 on 12,000 pads or tampons in her lifetime. Menstrual cups cost about $30, and can last up to ten years with proper care.

If you’re interested in buying, check out this article for information on the best brands of menstrual cups.

 

3. The Flex Company

via The Flex Company

The Flex Company was co-founded by Lauren Schulte and Erika Jensen. On their website, Lauren writes that she’s struggled all her life to feel comfortable in her own skin, and that her period always made it worse. As an adult, she realized that there was no reason to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable because of her period and she wanted to help people engage in conversations about menstruation.  Erika writes that contrary to Lauren, she’s never felt insecure about her period and that the shame surrounding periods shouldn’t exist.

FLEX is similar to the menstrual cup, except it’s flat and disc shaped. It is inserted into the vaginal canal and pushed up towards the cervix. It collects blood and can be used for up to 12 hours. Unlike the menstrual cup, FLEX is disposable. One of the prominent benefits is that it can be used during sex, so you can have sex on your period without making a mess.

The Flex Company offers a monthly subscription plan for $20 a month for 8 flex. You can start with a free trial that comes with 8 flex; you only pay shipping. Once you subscribe, you can skip deliveries, change the frequency of deliveries, or cancel your plan at any time.

 

Thinx underwear, menstrual cups, and Flex fits have a lot to offer: sustainability, cost effectiveness, comfort and convenience. And even more, when you support these companies, you support efforts to empower women all over the globe and end period shame once and for all. 

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Casey Lum

Washington

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