There is one, not usually explored, alternative to wearing pads, cups, tampons etc…. “Free Bleeding”.
This is, as the name would suggest, not wearing any menstrual protection at all, and just allowing the blood to flow… freely… while thought by some to be part of a 4chan prank, free bleeding is actually a thing, and always has been an option some choose to do (there is some speculation that before commercial disposable pads were available, not using menstrual protection wasn’t uncommon)
It has also been talked about in recent times due to Kiran Gandhi free-bleeding while running a marathon. Interestingly, sometimes runners have diarrhea issues (It’s even given a name- “runners trots“), but a woman with her period is somehow considered more gross than crapping your pants?
While for some the idea of free-bleeding invokes images of Carrie, it seems that the majority of those who do “free bleeding” have a light enough flow to not really need any menstrual products, or claim that they are able to hold the flow and release it on the toilet. I’ve seen women who do this say that they can feel when they are about to have a “gush” type moment, and they can go off to the toilet as needed (rather than having a steady flow constantly). If your flow is light and you can go to the toilet and wipe regularly to avoid staining their clothes and washing a few drops of blood on your underpants is really no different to washing cloth pads.
We all have different flow, so free bleeding would not work for everyone…
Using “period underwear” that has some built in absorbency instead of pads may be considered by some to be “free bleeding” – however I would argue that doing so is still wearing menstrual protection, it’s really just a pad sewn into your underwear – so not actually free-bleeding.