Tampons and pads tend to be the go-to period product for most people who menstruate in the United States. In fact, for years, it was tough to find any other products on the market to help manage bleeding during your cycle. But that’s not the case anymore. Whether you’re looking for a more cost-friendly alternative, prefer more eco-friendly products or simply want a more creative way of dealing with your flow, there are now quite a few alternatives to tampons and pads. Here, a few top-rated products to consider.
1. Saalt Cup, $29; saaltco.com
A menstrual cup is a flexible device that you pinch together to insert in your vagina. It sits at the base of your cervix to collect your period blood. The Saalt Cup is praised for how soft and comfortable it is. Made with chemical and toxin free silicone, it can be worn for up to 12 hours. Once it fills up (or when you hit that 12-hour mark), simply take it out by pinching the base and pulling it out. Dump the blood right into the toilet and clean it with warm water and a gentle, vagina-safe soap (Saalt makes one you can purchase). Then insert it again and you’re good to go.
2. Flex, $12.99 for 8 discs; flexfits.com
Flex discs are disposable menstrual cups that can be worn for up to 12-hours. To insert, you pinch the disc together and push it inside of you until it covers your cervix. The hypoallergenic disc holds up to three tampons worth of blood. Translation: Less frequent trips to the bathroom during your period. Another bonus of this particular cup is that the flat shape means that you can have sex while wearing it. One thing to keep in mind with Flex discs is that they are disposable—so you’ll need a new one every time you pull a used one out.
3. Intimina Ziggy Cup, $39.95; intimina.com
Similar to disposable options, the reuseable Ziggy cup has a flat, oval shape. Because of this, it’s the only reusable cup that can be worn during sex. It’s made from medical-grade silicone and can be worn for up to 12-hours. Ziggy also has a double rim, which provides extra protection and makes it virtually leak-proof.
4. Ruby Period Legging , $49.99; rubylove.com
Depending on your flow, these leak-proof workout leggings can be worn on their own, or as extra protection along with another product. The leggings are a blend of cotton and Spandex and the liner is 100% double-layered cotton and dry-tech mesh. So, you can run, do yoga, spin, or hit the gym without worrying about bleeding through your pants. The inclusive sizing runs from XS-3XL.
5. GladRags Day Pad, $14.99; gladrags.com
Consider this the eco-friendly, more affordable version of a disposable pad. Made from 100 percent cotton, the holder snaps around your underwear for a secure fit and removable inserts easily slip in and out. When needed, remove a soiled pad, add a new one in, and throw the dirty one in the wash. The day pad is similar to a maxi pad in terms of how much blood it can absorb and each insert will last up to five years .
6. R.E.T.A Reusable Tampon Applicator; $60; shethinx.com
Make your period routine more sustainable with the first-ever FDA-cleared reusable tampon applicator. It was created to be used with applicator-free tampons (like these) and is made with medical grade materials. Because it’s reusable, you can avoid plastic or cardboard tampon applicators. At just 3.6 inches long, R.E.T.A is easy to bring on the go. Just clean it with warm water and gentle soap after each use, then put it back into it’s storage case until you need it again.
7. Knix Leakproof Cheeky, $23; knix.com
Made to be worn as a backup to other period products or on it’s own on your lightest days, Knix underwear is made with leak-proof material that can absorb up to three teaspoons of liquid without soaking through to whatever you’re wearing. Reviewers on knix.com say they love that these are surprisingly sleek and don’t feel like a diaper.
While it would be ideal if people with periods had more options, we’re thankful that more and more period innovations continue to pop up. From menstrual cups to period undies, gone are the days of having to solely rely on a big ‘ole pad or a tampon. If you’re thinking about a more permanent solution, talk to your healthcare provider. There are methods of birth control that can actually “delay” your period for quite awhile. Until then, we’ll be rocking those period leggings and medicating our cramps with dulce de leche ice cream.