A Reusable Menstrual Products Q&A with GladRags Owner Tracy Puhl
There are many compelling reasons to try out reusable menstrual products - they're sustainable, natural, good for your body and can save you a lot of money over their lifespan - but there are a lot of common objections, too. Tracy Puhl, a Mothering member and the owner of GladRags, gave us a behind-the-scenes look at GladRags last year. Today, she's back to answer all of our user-submitted questions about reusable menstrual products!
Still have a question that wasn't answered? Visit our ongoing thread, or visit GladRags to learn more!
Q: "Clean up!"
A: Cleaning cloth pads is actually quite simple! There's a great thread in the Mothering community about soaking (or not!) your pads here.
My post, 7 Tips to Make your Cloth Pads Last Longer, also touches on some of the cleaning & care practices that will keep your pads as good as new!
Q: "I use cloth pads already but I'd like the option of using a cup too, but what holds me back is being uncertain of how to choose the correct size."
A: Choosing a size can be daunting, but it's really pretty simple. Most cups we carry make the distinction between whether you've given birth or not. Don't worry about comparing millimeters or getting too complex -- just choose the larger size if you've given birth or are over 35 (because of the way our bodies change as we age). We have a very simple guide here that can be helpful. We also encourage anyone who is feeling confused to get in touch with us and talk it out! We are always happy to help.
Q: "Frequent UTIs" and "I've heard people say that the reusable cups cause yeast infections. I'm prone to issues in that department. That's what holds me back."
A: Actually, if you're prone to infections, reusables are a GREAT option. Many women report decreased infections after making the switch (probably due to the fact that the disposables they are using have caused irritation which exacerbates any predisposition). The one caveat is if you use a menstrual cup or cloth pad during a yeast infection, you'll want to take extra care to sanitize the product so it doesn't continue the infection. Otherwise, you may find relief with reusables!
Q: "Can you use the cup with an IUD?"
A: We used to say no, but now we can say: talk to your doctor first, but you probably can! A recent study out of Canada found that menstrual cups did not significantly increase IUD expulsion rate when compared to pads and tampons. So be careful, but plenty of women with IUDs are happily rockin' the menstrual cup.
Q: "Looking forward to non-plastic Moon Cup..."
A: The Moon Cup is made of medical-grade silicone, not plastic. None of our products include plastic -- we think our sensitive parts (and yours!) deserve better.
Q: "Worried about the leaking and inserting it properly. And they say to rinse and reinsert... how do you do that in a public bathroom stall? And even at home... hobble to the sink to rinse hoping you don't pour out while doing that? I would love to make this change in my life, but don't feel comfortable!"
A: Good news: we definitely don't recommend you bringing your cup out of the stall in the public restroom! Instead, simply remain seated on the toilet, pull the cup straight down and hold firmly with your fingertips. Once it's removed, just tip the contents into the toilet. You can wipe the cup off with toilet paper or wipes, then reinsert. All in all, it's about as messy as an applicatorless tampon (which is to say, not very). No one in the other stall will even know what you're doing! When you're at home, empty the contents of the cup into the toilet, then rinse and reinsert the empty cup.
Q: "What if I make the investment and I don't like it?"
A: If it doesn't work for you, we don't think it's fair to keep your money! We have a 90-day money-back guarantee on all of our branded products (GladRags cloth pads, The Moon Cup, and The Keeper). Now, don't freak out! We won't ask you to mail anything back (because we would never sell anything used, obviously!) and it's a simple process to get a full refund on these products. We're able to offer this because so few customers take us up on it -- most women love their new way of managing their periods.
Q: "I feel more safe with a hermetically sealed tampon versus something I have to make sure is sanitary myself..."
A: Tampons and disposable pads are actually not sterile -- they're just bleached and packaged to seem that way! Personally, I trust myself more than I trust some random factory overseas to keep my menstrual supplies clean! Remember the moldy tampon incident? Yuck. And it's not as complicated as it seems to keep your pads or cup clean. If you can keep your undies clean, you can handle reusables!
Q: "My husband is grossed out about the pads. Which is some kind of weird societal hangup, because we cloth diaper. Every time I say I'm going to buy some, he runs to the big-box store and picks up a giant pack of disposables."
A: This is a really common reaction, unfortunately. We're implicitly taught from a young age that menstruation is scary, shameful, and unclean and it can take time to "unlearn" these negative thoughts. While it may take him some time to get used to the idea, we hear from customers a lot that their husbands eventually come around! One of our customers writes, "He loves the money we save, not having to buy me any feminine products, no funny smells, and he never knows when my time is because I don't get PMS or cramps anymore. I am happy and he is happy for me." Ultimately, I'd encourage you to remember: it's your body, and the type of menstrual care you use is your choice!
Q: "My teenagers and I don't use tampons. I would use these products except I worry about leaks and keeping them clean when we are away from home (which is a lot). Also I wonder what their friends would think."
A: You can use a menstrual cup if you don't use tampons, although it may take a little bit of getting used it! I answer questions about using menstrual cups in public above, so I'll discuss pads here. Using cloth pads on the go is fairly simply: just bring a small wet/dry bag with you. I have used my GladRags while traveling, visiting relatives, at a previous job in an office building, at networking events, while camping, etc.... And you know what? No one has ever once noticed that I was doing something "different"!
As far as leakage, lots of women find that cloth actually works better for them than disposables. Cloth pads won't bunch, twist, or stick to your leg like adhesive pads can, and they have an absorbent core to keep you leak-free. To stay comfortable and secure, just make sure you change your pad frequently enough (about as often as you would a disposable) and choose the right absorbency for your flow. If you need help choosing, get in touch with us! We know what works and are happy to help find the right pad for you.
Q: "I'd like to but simply haven't made the purchase yet. Nothing is really holding me back besides fear of the unknown."
A: This is something we hear a lot. All I can say is -- take the leap! Stepping into the "unknown" world of menstrual products has changed the lives of so many women... why not yours? :)