Let’s talk periods 🔴. In the last 50 years there has been little innovation in menstrual products. We wanted to know if people were happy with what few choices we do have for managing those days, after all, given the millions of 💵 that’s poured into marketing these products, they’d be pretty awesome right? So we asked 452 people from 18–46 years what their experience was and this is what we found.
What are the drawbacks to menstrual products?
We firmly and passionately believe that having your period should NOT hold you back in life, but sadly that still isn't the case for many women and girls. A recent survey found that, despite the 2021 abolishment of VAT on period products in the UK, a staggering one in eight will still struggle to buy suitable period products this year. And of the products accessible, many still feel there are many drawbacks to the offerings out there.
We believe that menstruation products need to be safe to use, effective in absorbing fluids and acceptable to all who use them- but is that really the case? We’ve listed the most common drawbacks to menstruation products below:
The risk of leaks was the number one complaint among the women we spoke to. Many told us that the shame and embarrassment they feel just at the thought of having a leak was enough to make them want to stop their usual activities during their period.
Lots confessed to doubling up on tampons and pads just in case, and others spoke about feeling worried and anxious that their period protection just wasn’t up to the job. The impact of this can not be ignored, as some women may resort to choosing tampons with a higher absorbency than they actually need. There are risks associated with this- as the chances of developing Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) increases significantly with higher absorbency tampons.
The bottom line is that period leaks do sometimes happen with tampons and pads, and it can be embarrassing and limiting for the women who experience it
There’s no denying that having your period can be messy sometimes. But that doesn’t mean that a menstruating woman is dirty or at risk of infection or disease because she’s bleeding. We've covered that period myth (and others!) already.
However, it seems that the health risks involved with using period products was also a concern to those we spoke to, with 77% telling us this was a factor they considered when choosing menstruation products.
The majority of the women we surveyed told us that tampons and pads were their preferred choice, but a common worry was also shared surrounding tampons and TSS. Tampons do pose a higher risk for developing TSS, simply because you insert them into your vagina.
Mr. Narendra Pisal, consultant gynaecologist at London Gynaecology, explained that sometimes women forget to remove tampons, and that can be a reason why the serious infection occurs.
He went on to say, ”TSS occurs when bacteria release toxins, which cause a severe reaction in the body. Symptoms tend to be a vaginal discharge which can become smelly and purulent, discomfort, lower abdominal pain and occasionally symptoms of severe infection such as raised temperature and feeling unwell.”
There are also heath risks associated with the chemicals that come disposable tampons and pads contain. Some brands may produce products that contain phthalates, bisphenols and pesticides, while others may have fragrances or pesticide residues if made from non organic cotton.
Hygiene was another major complaint of period products, with 80% telling us it was important to feel clean during their period. We hear you. Its tough to stay clean while changing a tampon three times a day, let alone trying to change a pad or a menstrual cup in a public bathroom and stay fresh!
Yes, hygiene is important. In fact, vaginal hygiene is very important. We have such a delicate balance of bacteria down there, that the slightest change in vaginal pH levels can lead to infections that can be uncomfortable and embarrassing.
Sadly, lots of disposable pads are breeding grounds for infection, because they’re not made with materials that allow the vagina to breathe easy. Moist, warm conditions are just perfect for bacteria overgrowth and that can easily lead to a yeast infection.
Lots of you were concerned about body odour too, with 66% telling us they were conscious of whether or not the products they used contributed to a less than desirable smell. This is one of the reasons why some disposable products contain synthetic fragrances- but again, these chemicals can cause havoc with vaginal health and should be nowhere near our vaginas at all.
If you’re concerned about period blood smell or you’re experiencing a change in discharge it might be an idea to speak to a doctor who can rule our infections such as bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection,
Have you considered reusable period products?
Despite 71% of you telling us that you were worried about your period products failing, and 90% telling us that you’ve heard of reusable products, it seems that more needs to be done to raise awareness of the alternative options out there.
Reusable sanitary towels
Reusable sanitary towels are a much better option than their disposable counterparts. Lots of pads contain plastic, chemicals and, as we’ve already discussed, even fragrances. In contrast, our WUKA reusable pads are made from organic cotton offcuts from our award wining period underwear.
Our pads have a lining of coolmax technology to keep them leak proof and ultra absorbent. They’re super soft on the skin and have wings with poppers to keep them in place. Plus, these pads can be worn any way round, thanks to the breathable gusset always facing up- so they’re easy to use and convenient to change.
Of course, the best thing about reusable pads is that they can be worn and washed, then used again next time. So they’re better for the planet and better fro your purse in the long run too.
Reusable period pants
Reusable period pants are, in our opinion, the best option if you’re not happy with your current period protection. They’re designed to be worn again and again, with the average pair lasting around two years if cared for properly. They have a gusset made up of many breathable layers so they keep you dry and fresh, and free from leaks too. With a range of styles and fits to suit all, they’re available in sizes xxS to xxL- so we literally have you all covered.
Reusable period pants are so easy to use too- just wear them like you would your usual underwear, and eliminate the need to smuggle anything up your sleeve, or to double up on protection 'just in case'. Simply choose according to your flow, and trust that our pants will absorb it all.
What underwear do women use during their period?
59% of you told us that you like to wear specific underwear during your period, mainly for comfort but also because you want to save your nice underwear from leaks! We were intrigued to find out what underwear most of you went for with this in mind.
Comfort and fit
Comfort is a must, especially when you’re feeling bloated and suffering with period cramps. Lots of you told us that big ‘granny’ pants were a must, with most saying you only wear old knickers at this time of the month. It seems being comfortable is a lot more important when we’re on our period, and we totally agree with this!
We make our period pants in a range of styles because we know that there are some days where we want the support and comfort of a high waist- and there are others where we want something with a little more of a sensual twist, even if we are on our period. That’s why we have our Lace Collection and why we still make sure these are reliable enough to a absorb your flow, no compromises.
It seems that most of you go for black underwear during your period, and that’s down to a fear of leaks, and not wanting to ‘ruin’ a nice pair of lighter coloured knickers. It goes without saying that our period products really shouldn’t be leaking and this shouldn’t be a concern!
By the way, most of our period pants are black- and that’s not because we don’t want leaks to show up. It’s because ultimately we’re not a fashion brand- we sell essential products. We also want to keep the amount of dye that we use to an absolute minimum, so we make our pants black.
Breathable pants are a must no matter where you are in your cycle, but never more so that during your period. Synthetic fabrics do not allow the vagina to breathe, and we know only too well that this can be very bad news for infections and smells.
Luckily, our WUKA period pants are made with a super absorbent gusset made up of many layers that lock in the blood away from your body. So you stay fresh, dry and confident even on your heaviest days.
The bottom line on menstrual products
The bottom line is that we are being failed by the majority of menstrual products out there. We want reliability. We want peace of mind. We want value for money. But we also want to have a sustainable period. We want to Wake Up and Kick Ass any day of the month, and with confidence that our period is not gong to hold us back, or cost the earth.