Next month, I will have been bleeding for 13 years (not straight, obviously). In that time, I have tried many products--some I liked, some I didn't. There are even more products available now than there were over 10 years ago, which is great. It means that there should be something that works for every changing body. Here is my list of the things I have tried, and what works for me. Please keep in mind that certain things don't work for everyone--what I like to use, you may not, and vice versa. Try out all that you can to find out what works for you!!
Natracare Organic Panty Liners
LuckyVitamin, for really cheap, but typically, I just buy them at my local Whole Foods. They are a bit more expensive than other brands, but it is really worth it. I also think their pads look like ice-cream sandwiches, which is fun for me.
Party In My Pants
website to see where you can buy some. If you are interested but don't want to buy one quite yet, for the price of shipping ($3.99) you can get a free one!! All you have to do is make an account on their website--here. I highly suggest trying it out.
I have to admit, I haven't actually used these yet. I found them at Pick N Save and was super excited, because all the pick n saves I've been to have never carried natural feminine products. I had also never heard of this brand. According to the box, they are natural cotton liners, with no chemicals, synthetics or dyes. There are 40 in this pack and they were on sale for like, three or four dollars. The company is based out of California. I'm excited to try them!!
This is my little disclaimer to say--DO NOT buy scented pads. They are completely unnecessary. Seriously, you don't need them. No one will be able to smell that you are on your period. If you aren't on your period but like to use scented pads to mask your smell, I want you to do two things--stop using scented anything, and go see your gyno about the smell.
Natracare Tampons without Applicators
I know a lot of you might be used to using applicators to insert your tampons, so using these for the first time can be a little difficult. You really gotta get your hands dirty (heh). These are 100% organic cotton and they don't have any chlorine, dyes, plastics or rayon. Now, TSS is always a risk when it comes to tampons. At least one study has suggested that 100% cotton tampons may decrease the risk of TSS, compared to other tampons that contain rayon. This is still not widely accepted or known, so always use caution. Change your tampon as often as you need for your flow--just don't leave it in for more than eight hours (even that is still probably not great).
I won't lie--I typically use store brand tampons the most. They are the cheapest and it is just easier for me to buy in bulk. But when I do splurge, I typically get Kotex. I think it is probably just because it is what my mom used to buy when I was growing up. The applicator is nice and easy and they do their job. They have tons of different kinds of tampons and pads, and I like their selection.
Most (if not all but Natracare) tampons contain rayon. Rayon is made from cellulose fibers from wood pulp. Tampons are typically made from cotton, rayon, or some kind of blend of the two. Dioxins are also something that can pop up in tampon materials, but commercial tampons are tested to make sure these levels are are at or below a detectable limit. They pose no health risk. Even so, some women prefer 100% cotton. Choose which kind of material is best for you. And like I said with the pads--DO NOT buy scented tampons!!
Lunette cup, Moon Cup, Ruby cup, Anigan EvaCup, etc). Not to mention, TSS is not really associated with cups, as it has been shown to be practically non-existent with use of them. Cups are typically $30-$40, which is muuuuch cheaper in the long run.
Soft cups were my personal soft introduction (pun intended) to menstrual cups. They have been around for nearly 20 years, and have had no reported incidents of TSS. You can wear it for up to 12 hours and you can't feel it while it is in you. A huge perk of Soft Cups is that you can actually have sex while wearing it, which makes them a pretty popular option. These cups are disposable, made from a polymeric material, making them hypoallergenic, non-irritating and non-absorbent. Try these out if you are thinking about a more permanent cup. They are a good way to see how you feel about putting them in and taking them out. I do like these a lot, but I don't love taking them out. Since it part of the cup that holds the blood is flexible, it can get a bit more messy than a more durable cup, so beware. These retail for about $5-$10 for a pack of 14.
Natracare Organic Intimate Wipes
I love wipes. They are super convenient when you are on your period and need a quick refresh when you don't have time for a shower. These wipes are 100% organic and do not have alcohol, dyes or fragrances. They won't irritate your skin and will leave you feeling a bit more clean. Honestly, I haven't tried these wipes. I highly suggest them because of their other products and the organic 100% cotton, but I don't currently own them. Wipes are another thing that I typically buy store-brand. Store-brands usually have unnecessary ingredients, which I don't like, but they tend to be cheaper.
Ibuprofen is my saving grace during my period. More than 50% of menstruating women have experienced dysmenorrhea. Dysmenorrhea is painful menstruation, and it is one of the most common gynecological problems. I struggle with extremely painful periods which sometimes leave me in bed all day near tears. I take the recommended dose of Ibuprofen as needed (2 tabs of 200mg). Tylenol has not worked for me since I was a teenager, but if it works for you, go for it! There are health risks to taking Ibuprofen, like any pill, so check with your doctor that you can do it. And be careful with drinking alcohol while on any pain relievers.
Yoga is something new for me, but it really helps cramps. It stretches out all of your muscles and just kind of settles everything down. If you've never tried it, look up a beginner video on YouTube next time you get cramps and see if it does anything for you. Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube has a video specifically for PMS & cramps.
Some people like to have sex during their period. That definitely is not an option for everyone, but if it works for you, go for it! A lot of women say that masturbating helps relieve their cramps. Plus, orgasms release chemicals that make us feel good, which can help even more. For some women, the muscle contractions help the pain, but for others, it may not do anything, or even make them worse.
Disclaimer: This is an option only for people in states where marijuana use is LEGAL.
Marijuana has always been something people have used for pain relief. Cramps are definitely lumped into that category. I have heard many women say that the use of marijuana relieves the pain and nausea caused by cramps. It can relax your muscles and make you feel good overall. Please speak with your doctor about the possibility of using medical marijuana for the relief of cramps.
You may notice two things about my list--I love the organic stuff, free from chemicals, dyes, and fragrances, and that I typically buy the cheapest products rather than the organic ones. I totally understand the struggle. Feminine products are, unfortunately, not cheap. And when you have to buy this stuff so often, that can add up. I obviously wish that every woman could have the best, most organic products, but I understand it is not that easy. Please do your research and try out different things. If one thing doesn't work for you, try something else! Most pad and tampon companies offer free samples if you go to their websites and sign up for some. Try and everything and keep your body healthy and happy. Most of us are going to be dealing with a period for many years to come, so we might as well make it as enjoyable as possible. Also, a good number of you may not get a period anymore due to hormonal birth control. Friendly reminder that if you can't use hormonal birth control for any reason, there is nothing wrong with you. Plenty of woman can not be on birth control for a whole range of reasons (including myself!).