Posted by Sarah-Kathryn Bryan

Let’s say I started my period today. There are no tampons in my dorm; I haven’t bought a pad in ages. Having lived, until very recently, with an awareness of only two ways to stem my monthly flow, I am surprised to find myself prepared despite my padless panties. Let’s step outside the menstrual product dichotomy. Today there are several products often neglected both by public schools’ already lacking sex ed classes and the ‘Feminine Hygiene’ aisles.

One option is the cup. Marketed at the Keeper, Diva Cup, Moon Cup et al. names, they fit inside the vagina over the cervix. Your humble blogger has no personal experience with cups, but has heard almost universally positive reviews of the product: they don’t spill; they’re easy to sanitize; they completely change approximately five of every twenty-eight days of your life. Critics often point out how difficult to adjust and remove they are. Touché. Like all TRULY REVOLUTIONARY products, cups require significant effort to become accustomed to. I recommend easing the transition by using disposable cups first: they bend more easily, and are a less impactful financial commitment for those who want to try several different menstrual products.

Many Women’s Studies 101 students have seen the famous poster from 1976 endorsing sea sponges, or have heard its slogan “Less profit from women’s blood!” As a fan of composting, I find the poster’s recommendation to feed plants on menstrual flow extremely appealing. The fact that sponges are cheap and exceptionally durable when wet are mere perks in comparison. Facts about the environmental impact of harvesting sea sponges are not forthcoming, but some may have concerns about using animal products. I personally find sea sponges an environmentally responsible option: sponges usually grow faster than trees and break down faster than plastic.

My personal favorite is Gladrags, or Lunapads, or products that take the basic form of a large, comfortable, patterned, reusable cloth pad. Mine has polka-dots. They are highly absorbent, and last for approximately five years. There are tutorials on how to make your own online, but reusable pad products are becoming more widely available in stores, online and at product-selling parties.

Wear your alternative products with pride. If you use one not featured here, write a blog about it, spread the news via word of mouth, or by making a gift of one to a friend. How better to bond with someone you’ve synched with?