The Independent's journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2020: Alternative sanitary products, from period pants to Mooncups

Out with the tampons, in with the menstrual cup

Sabrina Barr
Thursday 28 May 2020 09:00 BST

Every person on the planet who experiences periods will agree that preparing for that monthly visitor can be incredibly frustrating, not to mention expensive.

Strategically choosing what clothes to wear just in case you have an accident, spending a fortune on products that you need in order to go about your day somewhat normally, seeking solace from a hot water bottle and a jar of Nutella… it can be quite a struggle.

According to the Women’s Environmental Network, a woman will go through an average of more than 11,000 disposable menstrual products throughout the course of her life, which is an extraordinary amount of waste.

While pads and tampons may seem like the most practical sanitary products to invest in, there are a number of alternatives that have recently emerged on the market that are far more affordable, comfortable and environmentally-friendly.

Tampons, pads and panty liners amount to more than 200,000 tonnes of waste per year in the UK.

In the present social climate, in which many people are beginning to show greater consideration towards the environment, perhaps it’s time for women to start experimenting with sanitary products that are more sustainable.

From period pants to menstrual cups, here are the best alternative menstrual products on the market, for World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2020:

Menstrual cups

Talk of the menstrual cup has been circulating at an increasing rate over the past few years.

The cup is made from medical grade silicone and, once inserted into the vagina, can collect blood for as long as 12 hours.

One of the most well-known brands that produces the product is Mooncup, which is available to purchase for £21.99 at Boots and independent health food shops.

Mooncup states that one of their menstrual cups can hold three times the amount of blood that a regular tampon would usually absorb and doesn’t need to be replaced - all you need to do when you empty it into the toilet is rinse or wipe it with a tissue before inserting it again.

Period pants

Imagine how liberating it would feel to wake up one morning while you’re on your period and not have to worry about rummaging in your bathroom cupboard for a tampon.

Brands such as WUKA and Pretty Clever Pants have created period pants as a clever alternative; knickers designed to function in the same way as a sanitary pad.

WUKA period pants cost £19.99, while Pretty Clever Pants period pants are priced at £9.95.

On the WUKA website, it’s stated that you can wear their eco-friendly pants for up to eight hours and that its medium pants can hold up to two to three tampons’ worth of blood.

Clothing company Dear Kate has taken period pants one step further, as they also offer period yoga pants that you can wear while perfecting your downward dog.

Reusable pads

If you can’t imagine trying anything other than your bog-standard sanitary pad or tampon, then you could at least start buying reusable versions.

Aisle, previously known as Lunapads, states on its website that it launched the "first line of modern reusable period products" in 1993.

The company sells three sizes of reusable pads on its website, ranging in price from $16 (£13) to $22 (£17.95).

"Our high-performance reusable pads feel like your comfiest pair of cotton undies," the brand states.

The reusable pads are machine washable and the mini version can hold up to four tampons' worth of blood.

Menstrual disc

Not only can a menstrual disc last for up to 12 hours, but it has also been designed to allow its user to enjoy mess-free period sex. Intrigued? We thought so.

Flex is a company from California that has created the menstrual disc, which costs £13 for a trial box. According to their instructions, the menstrual disc sits just past the vaginal canal, as opposed to tampons and menstrual cups that are placed within it.

While removing the menstrual disc may prove slightly messy, Flex recommends doing so in the shower as it can hold up to six teaspoons of blood, the equivalent of five tampons.

A menstrual disc isn't reusable. However, they apparently produce 60 per cent less waste than tampons, which is a plus if you would still rather opt for a disposable form of menstrual product.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in