Everything You Want To Know About Reusable Pads

August 13, 2020.

It’s long overdue, but period products are finally going through a much-needed revolution. Between period underwear, 100% cotton, chemical-free tampons, menstrual cups, and reusable pads, we have more options than ever to contain our menstrual flows.

Pads were undoubtedly on the outs for many women these past few decades because they were messy, bulky, and felt like a diaper. But new (and old) technology have re-designed pads to be more effective without clogging the landfills. Here’s everything you want (and need) to know about reusable pads. 

How do periods change during perimenopause?

One of the first signs a woman is in perimenopause is a change in her period. Your period changes when you start perimenopause because your hormones start to jump around. Specifically, estrogen and progesterone and fluctuate erratically as your ovarian function begins to decline the closer your get to menopause. 

Perimenopause periods are often unpredictable and just plain annoying. Women can feel like their periods are never going to end or may miss them altogether, making them concerned about pregnancy (or even giving false hopes of finally hitting menopause!). Here are some changes you may notice caused by fluctuating hormones in perimenopause:

  • Heavier or lighter flow
  • Shorter or longer in duration
  • Spotting in between periods
  • Increase or decrease in the time between periods
  • Painful periods
  • More moodiness and irritability

What are reusable menstrual pads?

Reusable pads are just what they sound like – they are pads that you can wash and reuse. Wash, dry, repeat. They have an ultra-absorbant, moisture-wicking fabric that works to trap your menstrual blood. Unlike disposable pads, they do not contain any chemicals that absorb fluid or reduce sweat They often have a single snap that secures the pad to your underwear as opposed to sticking to your underwear like disposable pads. 

Many women avoid using disposable pads for several reasons. Here are common reasons women avoid disposable pads:

  • They fill the landfills
  • They are expensive
  • It feels like you are wearing a diaper
  • They are generally uncomfortable, and you always know they are there
  • They can be odorous
  • Leaks are common
  • They can dislodge
  • They can be noisy
  • Frequently, they are laden with chemicals and scent blockers
  • They lack versatility (swimming, tight pants, and exercising are probably out)
  • They can irritate the skin and even cause chafing.

Reusable pads are just what they sound like – they are pads that you can wash and reuse. Wash, dry, repeat.

Whether you can’t wear tampons or use a menstrual cup, or you just prefer pads over other products, reusable pads can be an excellent solution for many of the above complaints pertaining to disposable pads. 

Just like with any period product, there can be frustrations with the product. Firstly, reusable pads do not offer a solution for women who want to swim during their periods. Secondly, women often complain that while reusable pads do a great job of trap fluid, they also trap other moisture like sweat, which causes them to become odorous until laundering. Thirdly, they can generate quite a bit of heat, which can make things toasty down there and may not help with hot flashes. Finally, many women find they are too much work on heavy period days, as they require frequent changes and can be pretty messy.

Although they can be costly upfront, they are more cost-effective over time compared to disposable pads. 

What are the best reusable menstrual pads?

You can find reusable pads all over the internet, and there is quite a variety of materials. Some are made of bamboo or cotton, while others have charcoal laced into their lining to help absorb moisture. The most popular reusable pads on Amazon include Highoh., Pixie Cup, Rael, and think ECO. You can also buy handmade reusable pads at Etsy. 

Additional recommendations on reusable pads

Women who have tried reusable pads generally provide similar advice on how many to buy. In general, they recommend only purchasing a few to begin with to see if you really like them. If you do, don’t feel like you need to purchase the same amount of reusable pads as disposable pads you used in one period. You can wash and dry pads throughout your cycle, so you do not have to purchase so many. Similarly, there are also different pads for different flows. For example, you may not prefer reusable pads for heavy days, but you may like using reusable panty liners for your lighter flow days. 

So, we are curious: have you tried reusable pads? What do you think of them? Let us know in our private community! 

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, does not take the place of medical advice from your physician, and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Patients should see a qualified medical provider for assessment and treatment.

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Julia Walker
perry expert Julia (RN, BSN, BA) is a registered nurse based in Colorado. Julia's nursing background in women’s health has ranged from neonatal and postpartum care to labor and delivery, to outpatient gynecological medicine for both adolescent and adult populations. She specializes in helping women optimize their health during perimenopause and beyond.

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