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Article: Empowering Your Active Lifestyle: The Best Tampon Alternatives

Empowering Your Active Lifestyle: The Best Tampon Alternatives

Written by Emma from

If you’re anything like me, passionate about maintaining an active lifestyle, the fear of spills and leaks during exercise can prevent you from doing the things you love. While tampons have traditionally been the go-to solution, the rising concern for the environment and personal well-being, sparked a personal quest for sustainable and comfortable alternatives to see how they match up to old faithful.

The Downside of Tampons

It’s no secret that despite their popularity and convenience, tampons come with a multitude of issues. From the risk of toxic shock syndrome to increased cramp pains and potential exposure to harmful chemicals, there has been a growing trend in recent times towards more sustainable and healthy options. 

If you’re not using organic, unscented tampons (sidenote: you should always look for all-natural, toxic-free products and this includes your menstrual care choices) they can unintentionally introduce harmful chemicals to the body from the bleach used to give them their bright white color. These chemicals have been linked to impacting your body's hormones as well as increasing cramp pain. 

Furthermore when blood flow is light, tampons can stick to the walls of the vagina, causing tiny abrasions when they are removed. 

And this is without even considering the waste factor. I dread to think of how much money I’ve spent on menstrual products over the years and where the used products end up. A reusable period product can end up saving you a lot of money in the long run. Investing in one cup that can last up to ten years is much cheaper than forking out each month for traditional tampons and pads.

So with all these issues in mind I set out to test the latest options in menstruation modernity. 

Menstrual Cups: A Revolution in Period Care

Probably the most well-known reusable option is the menstrual cup. They are small, flexible little funnel shaped cups which sit inside the vagina and are usually made from latex, silicone or rubber. The benefits to this little cup is in its longevity. Cups can typically hold more fluid than other methods, including tampons. In fact depending on your flow or the day of your period you could keep your cup in for up to 12 hours. 

Inserting these and removing them can be a little tricky and takes some getting used to. I recommend practicing before it comes to your time of the month. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes so one style might suit your friends better whilst you prefer another - we are all different down there after all. 

Once I’d mastered how to use my Mooncup, I felt a much larger sense of freedom than when I was using tampons bought on by the fact I could go for longer between changes. The suction that keeps the cup in place also meant I could continue my usual workout intensity without being concerned by leaks. It has also been said that menstrual cups can reduce the risk of vaginal infections such as BV or Thrush which makes them an appealing option for women who experience frequent outbreaks. 

I will admit removal took some getting used to and involved being okay with handling menstrual fluid. I suppose the downside to these is that they can be a little fiddly and inconvenient to deal with if you're not at home. The cups require being sterilized in hot water before they can be reinserted, which can pose an issue if you need to change them when out and about. Still I found the length of time I could go between changes made up for this as I was always able to get home in time.

Menstrual Disks: Comfort and Intimacy Combined 

Much like cups, menstrual disks are inserted into the vagina to collect period fluid. Disks however are positioned horizontally and sit at the base of the cervix making them suitable for people who might find the vertical placement of cups uncomfortable. They provide a solution for people who would like to be intimate with their partner, offering a less messy intimacy during this time.

Similar to menstrual cups, disks can take some practice to figure out inserting and removing them successfully. Everybody is unique, so it may take some trial and error to determine the most comfortable option. I recommend wearing a panty liner whilst trying out different ones until you find your perfect fit.

As a surfer, I want to spend as much time in the water as possible, even on my period. This is where I reaped the most benefits from the menstrual disk. I definitely noticed that compared to other options, the disk was incredibly comfortable. It allowed me to paddle-out, completely focus on my cross-step and enjoy the waves to the point where I forgot about being on my period entirely. A clear win in the tampon alternatives camp.

Period Pants: The Cosiest and Secure Option

Okay so I admit I was less thrilled to try this option, for the same reason I’ve shied away from pads in the past - I dislike feeling like I'm wearing an adult diaper. But I’m a big girl and committed to the cause so I bit the bullet and bought some for my next period. 

Just as regular underwear comes in a variety of shapes and designs, so do period underwear. Mine came with a removable absorbent liner, which made them perfect for gals that experience a heavier flow or just for that extra layer of leak-free confidence.

The boxy style that I bought definitely gave me that added sense of security whilst at the gym, but felt heavy and soggy after wearing them overnight on the first day of my period. What I will say is despite my trepidations, they didn’t leak once and were incredibly comfortable. 

The downside to these is definitely the price point. They are more expensive than regular underwear and just like regular underwear, you’re going to need more than one pair because you’ll be washing them after each use.

In the journey to find the ideal tampon alternative, personalization is key and what works for one person may not for another. My best friend swears by her period pants and whilst I didn’t dislike them as much as I thought I would, the cup and disk are better suited to my personal preference. Once I’d found the right fit, they both gave me the confidence to hit the gym and the waves without fear of leaks.