A post about period products is not something I would have ever imagined writing back when I started my first blog in 2014, but times are changing and so are periods. Since then there has been something of a menstrual renaissance. Media outlets like NPR have even gone so far as to dub 2015 the “Year of the Period”. This growing movement calls for menstrual equity not only abroad, but here in the United States as well. In her book, Periods Gone Public, Jennifer Weiss-Wolf has this to say on the topic:
“In order to have a fully equitable and participatory society, we must have laws and policies that ensure menstrual products are safe and affordable and available for those who need them. The access to these items affects a person’s freedom to work and study, to be healthy, and to participate in daily life with basic dignity.”
How many times have you been unable to participate in something because of your period? Every summer growing up I would sit out of the pool any time I was on my period. I recognize that this comes from a perspective of privilege, having had the means to purchase period products. Yet somehow I still let it sideline me from activities I loved. I had the choice to use tampons instead of pads, but lots of women and girls are unable to afford basic period care because of poverty, homelessness, or incarceration. Bustle created an eye-opening video showcasing the experiences of homeless women dealing with their periods that provides more information on the struggles they face.
I would be remiss not to mention that a large portion of the menstrual equity discussion here in the US revolves around the “tampon tax”. Although it's a catchy name, it isn’t an additional tax on tampons as the name would suggest, but rather the standard sales tax. Many activists and politicians are petitioning to make period products exempt from sales tax, and several states have taken initiatives to make this happen, but it’s still a work in progress.
If any of this remotely interests you then definitely read Jennifer Weiss-Wolf’s book because she goes into much more detail and explains things so eloquently.
In addition to social issues like menstrual equity, there’s the fact that companies aren’t required to disclose what’s in their period products. I’ll be the first to admit that my beauty products don’t always fall into the all-natural, organic category, but I try to make healthier swaps when I can. In my experience I haven’t noticed any differences in the effectiveness of organic cotton tampons versus traditional tampons (which is something I can’t say for natural deodorant). Non-organic tampons, meaning the ones you’ve most likely been buying your whole life, often contain cotton (grown with pesticides), a bleached rayon mix, and/or chemical fragrances and dyes. Especially as is the case with tampons, these things are absorbed into your body.
If you’ve listened to a podcast in the past year then you’ve most likely heard ads for organic tampon brand, Lola. They were the catalyst to get me thinking more about the products I was using every month. Since then I have discovered so many brands that make organic period products and proudly disclose their contents- organic cotton! When evaluating each of these brands I try to keep in mind cost, accessibility, and environmental impact.
I have a monthly subscription with Lola. This is totally not an ad for them, but I just love the product and the fact that I never have to rush out to the store in an emergency period situation. I also like that you can customize the box with different amounts of light, regular, super, etc. They've expanded their product line quite a bit to include pads and extra things like cramp care as well.
Similarly, I’ve tried Cora who also makes organic tampons. I find them to be really similar to Lola personally. I would say Cora comes in slightly more sleek packing including a carrying case, so if that's important to you then I would recommend checking Cora out.
L. is a brand I’ve discovered more recently, and I’m super excited to see them stocked in Target. The accessibility factor is huge. I’ve never tried their tampons, only their pads and liners, but both of those are great. The price of this brand is also significantly less making it a great option.
If you're after something entirely different, then Thinx might be what you're looking for. Magic underwear that somehow acts like a built-in pad? I think what puts most people off is the fact that you wash them with the rest of your laundry, but I didn't run into any issues with that. I bought a pair of the original hiphuggers to try out, and I have to say I really liked them! I’ve found that I prefer them for nighttime use. What I really like about Thinx is that it reduces the waste created every month by throwing away so many products and applicators.
The destigmatization of periods is only the first step in true menstrual equity, so I wanted to share this post in hopes that it makes one more person consider their own period care and the extent to which periods can affect someone's life. This is something I am really passionate about, and I'd love to continue sharing things along this topic if it's something you want to see more of!