The ultimate guide: which period product, when? Our favourite combinations

6 min read

Hello, it’s us again, still rattling on about period products. At least you’re only reading our blog and not trapped in an actual pub with us, because we absolutely do continue to talk about tampons at great length to anyone who’ll listen. Anyway since you’re here, let’s continue on our quest to get everyone’s leaky, inconvenient, uncomfortable period woes sorted once and for all.

Hopefully you found last week’s installment of our ultimate period product guide useful. We couldn’t find anything quite like it out there and we thought it was what the internet needed.

To finish off, we’ve decided to round up how some of us at Callaly handle our periods. Our favourite recipes, if you like. (Hmm.) We’d love to hear how your story compares.

Jody, head of content: cup convert

Since I’m writing this, I’ll go first. I have very heavy periods due to my copper coil, but they start off with a mere whisper for about a day and end the same way. I’ve tried pretty much every period product there is and at the moment I’ve settled on a menstrual cup with liners for backup. I carry (Callaly organic, of course) liners in my bag a few days after I start wandering my flat aimlessly with the blank expression of a detuned android and the cold, cold heart of a dictator, because that’s a sure sign I’ll be bleeding within 2 – 6 days. Once things start, I sterilise my cup and insert it using the punch down fold. I wear it high, right under my cervix, as I’ve found the low-slung method advised by some of the cup brands uncomfortable and leaky.

I was a loyal high-street brand applicator devotee until I started working at Callaly. Finding out about how non-organic tampons were made and generally thinking about periods all the time just changed my mind completely. Now I don’t like the idea of going back to those synthetic rayon beasties ever again. I still use the odd tampon if I’m going to be in a situation where I know I won’t want to emerge from a public toilet cubicle looking like Carrie, dripping my bloody hands all over the tiles. I’m still partial to an applicator. But they really irritate me these days and I try to avoid them at all costs.

I’d never leave the house without a liner on during my period; it isn’t worth the risk. On my heaviest days I fill up a cup within a few hours and I need the backup. Plus I don’t always get it in right, even after months of practice, and I find the water from washing the cup can mix with a bit of blood and stain my underwear pink. If I need to call in the big guns at night, I just switch the liners for our organic pads.

Megan, customer experience lead: mixing it up

Similarly to Jody, I didn’t start really digging into what my period products were made of until I was interested in joining Callaly. It was such an eye-opener to learn how many chemicals are used in the tampons I’d been wearing for years, and how much synthetic material is in liners and pads I wore as well…now I’m organic all the way! It genuinely makes me feel better knowing I’m giving that kindness to my body every month, even if organic cotton products cost more.

I’m deliberately using different period products to match my flow and comfort levels, rather than just using tampons as a catch-all product

As for the products I’ve used in the past, I definitely started out with day and night pads, which my mother gave to me when I began menstruating. I quickly began using applicator tampons though because I played sports all year round – I remember learning to put an applicator tampon in before swim practice. I would wear applicator tampons all day and a pad at night. I didn’t know about non-applicator tampons for several years, and even after finding out about them, I really only made the switch because I felt the amount of plastic used in applicator tampons was excessive.

Now that I’m more aware, I’m deliberately using different period products to match my flow and comfort levels, rather than just using tampons as a catch-all product. I use tampliners during the first few days because I benefit from the added leakage protection and I really appreciate the clean removal. I’ve noticed that when travelling, they’re also my go-to product because you often don’t know what the state of the toilets will be like in different places, so the clean removal and disposal of tampliners doesn’t add any stress or nervousness. If I’m doing any sort of sport, I’ll go back to non-applicator tampons. I use liners or period pants towards the end of my period when my flow is lighter or if my cramps are particularly bad since tampons can actually add to that pain in my experience. And finally (!), I use a menstrual disc at night. I found pads uncomfortable in the past, even to wear in bed, so now Flex is my replacement (and I only have to deal with potentially messy removal in the comfort of my own home).

Ariana, office manager, tampliner devotee

I feel like my experience with period products has been very uneventful and not really that experimental at all! When I started my period at 12 years old I used mainly day/night pads for the majority of my period but pantyliners on my lighter days. When I felt more confident, my mum taught me how to use tampons (always applicator) and I pretty much stuck with a combination of tampons and pads for the foreseeable future. I used to double up as I never felt confident that my tampon wouldn’t leak and, especially in school, I didn’t want to have any accidents. I suffered with very irregular and heavy periods, which also gave me a lot of sickness, so when I was 14 I was put on the contraceptive pill, which massively reduced the sickness and also made my periods much lighter and more regular. My use of period products didn’t change, and I continued to stick to a combination of tampons and pads/liners (but always only a pad at night – I never felt comfortable leaving my tampon in for that long overnight because of warnings about TSS.)

I wouldn’t go back to using normal tampons again – I’d feel lost without the security of the mini-liner!

Similarly to Jody and Megan, until I was looking to join Callaly, I’d never really thought too much about the products I was using. ‘They’re made to be put in my body, surely they’re totally safe and good for me, right?’ Now I question that a bit more. Something that I’d been putting inside my body for years could contain lots of chemicals and didn’t legally have to be sterilised (!?), not to mention the issues of shedding that had been seen in tampons from a big brand I’d trusted for years. Naturally, this sort of stuff scared me. It was from then that I made a conscious choice to move to organic period products, which seemed kinder to my body.

When I started at Callaly I wanted to give tampliners a try. It took a few periods to get used to them as I’d actually only ever used applicator tampons previously, so I was learning how to use digital tampons and a new product at the same time. Now I can’t imagine using anything else. I use tampliners for the heaviest days of my period. At night time I still use pads (organic this time!) and for my lighter days at the beginning and end of my period, I will only use a liner. I wouldn’t go back to using normal tampons again – I’d feel lost without the security of the mini-liner!

Kelsey, marketing manager: freedom finder

I was a dedicated pad-wearer from when I started my period until my early 20s. I found tampons intimidating and every time I tried to put one in, it was confusing and painful regardless of how many times I read the leaflets. When I finally got the hang of it, I loved the feeling of freedom they gave me. Pads had been a constant reminder that I had my period but wearing tampons meant I could forget for a couple of hours before it was time to change them.

Organic tampons absorb better and feel softer when you open them up

Before starting at Callaly I made my period product choices purely based on comfort and what worked best with my lifestyle. I sometimes felt guilty about not using organic tampons, similarly to how I still feel guilty about not eating organic chicken, but I wasn’t convinced I would actually benefit from making the switch. Now that I have dissected both organic and non-organic tampons, learned more about the femcare industry and consistently worn organic tampons, I’ve become a believer. Organic tampons absorb better and feel softer when you open them up. Since my vagina is the most absorbent part of my body, I only want to put clean, toxin-free products in it.

I recently purchased a menstrual disc hoping it would be my chosen reusable period product. The suction part of most menstrual cups really freaks me out, but this one looks and acts similarly to Flex, sitting right below the cervix to catch the blood and staying in place by tucking up behind your pubic bone. Unfortunately I couldn’t get it to sit comfortably (it kept sliding down – a strange sensation…), which meant I could always feel it. Since I like forgetting I have my period, this constant reminder wasn’t ideal so I stopped using it. I need to give it another chance because I really want it to work but if I’m being honest, it’s always easier to just grab an organic tampon rather than finger wrestle with a disc.

So that’s us, how about you?

Come and tell us over on Instagram, or email us at feedback@calla.ly

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Currents is a place where interested people with periods come to get the real lowdown on menstruation and bodies. We explain the things nobody else does, normalising every experience of periods no matter how weird it might feel. We’ll leave you informed, unashamed and ready to expect more for yourself.

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