Reusable Menstrual Products are simply a menstrual product that is washed and reused, rather than a single-use disposable one.
While the idea may first sound gross and unhygienic, women had been using reusable menstrual products long before commercial disposable products became popular. Even with disposable products, often you may get some blood leaking onto clothing, bedding or towels, which is simply washed and you reuse the items. Using reusable menstrual products is really no different to that.
Using a reusable menstrual product is not only more environmentally friendly and cost effective, but they can have health benefits as well. Less exposure to harsh chemicals, less risk of TSS and thrush. As well as being more comfortable.
These are essentially a washable fabric version of a disposable menstrual pad. Mostly made by small businesses, these come in a huge variety of types. Using fabrics such as bamboo, they can be very absorbent and some even include a waterproof layer to give the same security as a disposable pad. Colourful fabrics can add to the positive aspect of using these, as can soft fabrics such as velour. Cloth Pads can be reused for many years and can be simply washed in the washing machine with the rest of the laundry.
A Menstrual Cup is a soft bell shaped item which is used inside the vagina to collect the flow. They are removed to be emptied, rinsed out and replaced. They can be boiled in a pot of water to be sterilised before and after each period. The one cup can last many years, can be used while swimming or sleeping and does not have the same TSS risks as tampons do. They also have a much greater capacity than tampons and can safely be kept in place for 12 hours.
Sea Sponge Tampons
These are a naturally occurring sea sponge that are used in the vagina to absorb the flow, much like a tampon. They are moistened for use, allowing them to be comfortably inserted. They are washed and reused, and can be boiled or sterilised if desired. They offer a cheap reusable option.
An Interlabial Pad is basically a cross-between a tampon and a pad, that is worn externally in the labia, rather than internally. These cannot be worn while swimming, but can offer a step between an internal product or a pad for those who don’t want to use an internal product.