Not a Review: My Thoughts on Reusable Period Products

20 Reasons why they did not work for me

Plus: Why I switched back to disposable products

***Graphic descriptions of periods ahead! If you don’t like talking about menstruation, click away now.***

Period Products in Korea

Today’s post is not exactly skincare or beauty related, but seeing as we use period products on skin, or even inside of our bodies, I figured, why not talk about periods for a bit. As a woman (no, no, not a vulva haver or human who menstruates or person with periods – a woman) with heavy periods, I go through A LOT of tampons and I feel rather terrible about the impact I am having on the environment with my periods alone.

A little side note on period products in Korea. EVERY Korean woman that I know uses pads, whereas in the Western world, most women seem to prefer tampons. I don’t know why that would be – is there a stigma around touching your bits in Korea, even if it is just in a non sexual way? I have talked to Korean girl friends about this but have been unable to get to the bottom of things.

Tampons seem to be more expensive and less available. Generally speaking, each chemist will have dozens of options for pads, but when it comes to ANY period product outside of pads – crickets!

There will be exactly one brand of tampons – one regular, one super. Both of them are rather small for my heavy flow – the regular one is what I would call small in Europe, the super one is more like a regular size – which means I have to change tampons all. the. time.

No period sponges, period cups, different types of tampons. The only tampons available are applicator tampons. In case you are not familiar, applicator tampons are housed in a bunch of plastic, kind of like a rocket launcher for your uterus.

The amount of rubbish that I create with each period is of epic proportions. Come on Korea! Give me extra large, non applicator tampons!

Menstrual Cups

One day then I decided to give period panties and cups a try. Let’s talk about the cups first. I tried a smaller and a bigger one, both made from silicone. These are the reasons why they did NOT work for me at all.

  1. My periods are heavy – I lose 60-70 ml of blood on my heaviest days and then it tapers off a little. For reference, most women lose 30-80 ml of blood over their entire period. Cups however usually only come in 10-20 ml sizes, maybe 30 ml on occasion – this would mean that I would have to change my cup several times per day.
  2. I am not a housewife and cannot see myself changing out a full cup of blood in a public bathroom while at work. Me and my buttery fumblefingers are likely to drop that cup – can you imagine the mess I would create? No, no, no. One word: CARRIE.
  3. I don’t know what it is, but I just cannot get the cup to properly unfold once inside. I tried for more than a year and it just won’t work for me. The cup always stayed slightly folded.
  4. I always felt the cup was there, whereas I have never had that issue with tampons. So basically, I felt like I had a UTI (urinary tract infection) every time I wore the cup.
  5. It leaked. You still have to wear a panty liner or period panties as backup, which somewhat negates the positive impact you are trying to make. It’s kind of like double the work.
  6. The blood stained my cup and just from an aesthetics perspective, it looks like butcher shop meets medieval torture instrument. I like to have beautiful things in my life and the cup was such an eyesore.
  7. It was annoying to clean as clotted period blood and uterine tissue would get stuck in those little air holes. Having to boil the thing made me question how environmentally friendly this thing really is.
  8. The cup does not eliminate odours.
  9. You have to pre plan your entire schedule around having clean cups, storing them safely, toting them around with you.
  10. They’re also rather big – not entirely handbag friendly. You cannot just stuff one up your sleeve and make a run for the bog, you have to take a whole bag of related items with you: wet tissue to clean yourself up with (again, not environmentally friendly), a bag to put your old one in and a bag where your new clean one resides in.

Period Panties

I got a set from Thinx and I just don’t like them. I use them because I paid money for them but cannot in all honesty recommend them. Here’s why.

  1. They feel and look like swimwear on the outside. I think they now have cotton and other finishes but the ones that I got from Thinx Classic are not a sensorial delight.
  2. They feel wet while you are using them. Basically, it feels as though you are sitting in a pool of your own blood.
  3. You feel your period ‘dropping’ and the mucous and blood moving around. I don’t like being reminded of my period more than necessary, the pain and nausea do a good enough job already, thanks very much.
  4. You smell that period blood stench. Kind of like rotting meat, or rotting flowers. Not nice.
  5. You have to wash them all the time. Are they really that environmentally friendly?
  6. They take eons to dry and you usually have to use a fan or dryer as they won’t dry on their own. Again, I am concerned about the positive environmental impact they’re supposed to have.
  7. They look like granny pants, and are sized to American standards in the case of Thinx specifically. I took size S expecting a snugger fit, instead I got huge undies that are more like a size L-XL by European standards.
  8. They have a huge VPL (visible panty line) so I cannot wear tight clothing with these. Loose cut clothes only, so I feel even less sexy than I already do.
  9. They work best as a backup for me personally or on days when my period is finished but I am still expecting brown slush. But that is not their main purpose, after all.
  10. The absorbent material that they are made of starts to feel old and crunchy after a while, adding to the whole unpleasant sensorial experience. The black ones I have have faded considerably – I have old black underwear which is a lot older and that has been washed a lot more – and they look brand new still, while my Thinx look tattered – even though they cost a lot more.

Final Thoughts

It hurts me to say this but I had to go back to being environmentally un-friendly. Tampons keep me clean and dry and free of odour all day, I cannot feel them, I can wear nice (black) underwear while I use them and the reusable products I tried just cannot compete.

How do you manage your periods and the environmental impact that you have?

© 2021 The Empties Diaries All Rights Reserved

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One thought on “Not a Review: My Thoughts on Reusable Period Products

  1. As much as I love being environmentally friendly and I try to change habits in many other aspects, this is an area I still haven’t managed to be eco-friendly. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

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