The ultimate guide: which period product works best for your flow?
If you’ve been diligently following this series, you’ll know by now that we’re on a mission to demystify period products and encourage every bleeding person out there to experiment a bit until we’re truly happy with our lot. In the previous part of the series we ran through all the femcare options available and their pros and cons.
This week we’re going to figure out the best way to combine these products into a system that suits every day of your cycle
This week we’re going to figure out the best way to combine these products into a system that suits every day of your cycle, whether you start slow or heavy, end with a fade out or a full stop.
A quick question
Before we start, think about your own period and how it usually behaves. How many different ‘gears’ does your period usually have? For example I always start and finish with a full day of barely-there blood, but the main bit of my period involves a very heavy flow in which I go through a super-plus tampon in less than two hours. After that there’s usually a day of more ‘regular’ flow. How many distinct phases do you tend to have?
Just being aware of what’s going on during your period will make it easier to prepare.
For very light days
A pantyliner alone will often do the trick. Many people find that organic cotton ones don’t irritate their vulvas as much, and are less likely to cause thrush. Whatever you do, stay away from the scented ones! As long as you change your liner regularly enough, there’s really nothing to worry about. Your vagina does not need to give off wafts of Cool Autumn Breeze every 20 minutes in order for you to be respected in the boardroom.
For very heavy days or nights [when you have a sink at your disposal]
If you have extremely heavy periods and find it hard to keep up with things – for example if you bleed through a super plus tampon or a super pad in a couple of hours or less, you might want to give a menstrual cup a go. Have a read of some good online guides before you part with any money as you’ll need to balance your need for capacity with your beginner status (in other words, you want something big enough to catch plenty of blood but not so big that you struggle to insert and remove it during your first few months getting used to it.)
We find cups can work brilliantly when they’re inserted correctly but there’s quite a wide margin of error
Bear in mind that you might still need to use a pantyliner or a pair of period pants as backup, at least while you get used to using a cup. We find cups can work brilliantly when they’re inserted correctly but there’s quite a wide margin of error. Accidents can happen if you haven’t positioned the cup correctly or if it hasn’t fully sprung open and formed a seal with your vaginal wall. There can also be a bit of leakage after you’ve washed your cup and reinserted it damp – the blood in your vagina can mix with a few drops of water and stain your underwear pink. And one more caveat: you’ll probably still need an emergency supply of disposables for non-cup-friendly scenarios – or a bottle of water in your bag for on-the-go rinsing.
For very heavy days or nights [when a cup won’t do]
Cups can be fabulous but let’s face it, they’re not perfect for everyone all the time. Top of our list of gripes is having to emerge from a public loo cubicle dripping blood from your hands with your knickers round your knees, only to bump into the vice-president of whatever reapplying her lipstick. Some of us thrive in this kind of scenario, others not so much. Plus, a full cup emptied down the loo can take a few flushes to get rid of, and sometimes you just don’t feel like squatting on the loo with half your hand inside your vaginal cavity either. Fair dos really.
In these situations we’d opt for either a super plus tampon plus a liner to catch any leaks, or a super plus Tampliner, which has a mini-liner attached to the bottom so you’ll have advance notice when you need to change it. This is especially good if you want to go for a run or do some yoga – whatever might cause a liner to rub or ruckle up and annoy you when you want to concentrate on your kundalini.
For nights, you can’t really go wrong adding a maxi pad or a night pad. A neat trick we learned from Reddit is to stick two pads into a cross shape in your underpants; one in the usual position and one widthways across your bottom. As always, try for organic if you can. The standard kind contains unholy amounts of plastic.
For medium-flow moments when you just want to get on with your day and forget about it
You’re in the period product sweet spot here. If you generally opt for a regular or super tampon with a liner for backup, you could try Tampliners as they combine both products for less fuss. They also wrap themselves on the way out, so no wrestling a dangling bloody tampon from between your thighs on to a wad of toilet paper ready to be swaddled like an angry newborn.
You could also try a cup if you really want low hassle. Once you’ve got used to it, you might be able to leave it in all day and just change it in the comfort of your morning shower and evening wash.
That’s our breakdown of the best products for every kind of flow. Do you use these combinations or something else? Have we missed anything? Let us know on Instagram and come back next week to hear our prescriptions for every lifestyle need (if you like period sex or swimming, you’ll want to read this.)