A Mighty Girl's introduction to the top three types of reusable menstrual products for tweens and teens!
There are far more period product choices for today's girls than ever before, and that includes many reusable options! There are numerous reasons a girl might prefer reusable products, from environmental concerns to cost savings to avoiding worries about supply shortages. However, choosing the right menstrual product, or combination of products, is critical to ensuring that she feels comfortable and confident at home, school, and extracurricular activities during her period.
In this blog post, we'll provide information about the three most common forms of reusable period products — cloth pads, cups, and period underwear — and give you some guidance to help her decide what product is right for her. We'll break down the pros and cons of each product type, and highlight some key questions she needs to ask herself when choosing one. Then, we'll provide recommendations for high-quality, well-reviewed period products to make finding the right one for your Mighty Girl as easy as possible.
It's important to note that girls may want to choose different products for different situations, including combining reusable and disposable products. Some girls will feel most comfortable using disposable products at school, so they can throw out used products rather than packing them to take home. Others will be comfortable using reusable pads or period underwear under their clothes, but will prefer disposable tampons for swimming or gymnastics. There's no one right or wrong way to manage your period, but by giving girls enough information to make an educated choice, you'll help them find the option that's perfect for them!
For more resources to help your Mighty Girl feel prepared for her period, including our favorite books on menstruation for children and teens, visit our blog post That Time of the Month: Teaching Your Mighty Girl About Her Menstrual Cycle. You can also find a step-by-step guide to building a "just in case" period kit for your Mighty Girl in our blog post DIY Period Power: How To Create A First Period Emergency Kit for Your Mighty Girl.
Pads, Cups, And Underwear: Choosing A Reusable Period Product
Before you start talking to your Mighty Girl about different menstrual products, encourage her to think a bit about what she likes and doesn't like about the product that she's using now, and how she plans to use her period products in the future. Then, you can start talking about her options! For each option, we'll lay out some important points to consider, as well as some pros and cons.
Reusable Cloth Pads
Generations of women have used cloth period products, but today's cloth pads are very different from the menstrual rags and belts of the past! Modern materials have more absorbency and moisture-resistant layers, while improved fasteners (including both snaps and Velcro) make it easier for girls to get pads to stay put.
- What absorbency do you need? Choose a cloth pad that suits your flow, and keep in mind that heavy flow days may require pad changes.
- Are you very active? Cloth pads may shift more than adhesive ones, but they will also be softer on your skin and may be less likely to cause chafing.
- Are you a gymnast or dancer who wears a leotard? If so, consider if you'll use cloth pads during these activities, or if you'll want an alternative method.
- Cloth pads last a long time. Most cloth pad manufacturers expect their pads to last at least 2 years, and many women use them far longer than that.
- Cloth pads come in a variety of sizes, lengths, and absorbency; by buying a selection of them, you can choose the product that's perfect for each day's needs and flow.
- Cloth pads feel softer against your skin, which many girls love; girls with autism or sensory sensitivities may particularly appreciate the feel of cloth.
- Cloth pads are cute! They come in a huge array of colors, patterns, and designs. You can even learn to sew your own if you want a customized pad that's just your style.
- You will need to buy or make enough pads for one full cycle, or you have to plan to do a wash before they run out.
- When you change a cloth pad away from home, you need to carry the used pad with you; plan on bringing a waterproof bag or pouch for when you change pads.
Menstrual cups are a comparatively new option for managing menstruation; they use a flexible cup inside the vagina to catch period flow. Cups are available in a wide variety of sizes and several choices of material. When cared for properly, a single cup can last for years, and because it's used internally, you can easily wear one for swimming or other activities where you prefer a tampon.
- Are you comfortable with an insertable period product? Menstrual cups are put in like a tampon, and you'll use a stem or ring to remove them.
- Are you allergic to latex? If so, make sure you look only at menstrual cups made entirely of silicone.
- If you have a heavy flow, are you willing to empty a menstrual cup in a public washroom?
- Are you willing and able to wash your cup between insertions and sterilize it when your cycle is done?
- Reusable cups last a long time: at least a year, with some brands lasting longer.
- You can wear a menstrual cup for much longer than a tampon or pad — up to 12 hours.
- Silicone cups are hypoallergenic, so they're a highly recommended option if you have allergies or skin sensitivities.
- Menstrual cups are suitable for water sports and other sports where an internal product is preferable.
- There is a learning curve! You will have to practice how to insert and remove the cup.
- You may need to try more than one size, shape, and brand of cup to find the best one for you; many users have to try two or more cups before they find the perfect fit.
- Emptying and cleaning a cup away from home can be a bit awkward, especially for girls who are new to periods.
- You need to clean the cup properly by rinsing it, either at the sink or with a bottle of water into the toilet, before reinsertion, and some cups need sterilization after each cycle.
Period underwear takes a familiar item and adds menstrual protection, making it an easy way for many girls to manage their periods. Period underwear can be worn as your only period product on light to medium flow days, and they can also be used as backup if you're worried about a pad shifting or a tampon or cup leaking.
- Will you wear period underwear alone, or do you plan to use it in combination with another period product?
- Are you comfortable with changing period underwear midway through the day on a heavier flow day?
- Wearing period underwear is as easy as... well, putting on a pair of underwear.
- Period underwear is a great option in the days leading up to your expected period, or near the end of your cycle, when you're worried about unexpected flow.
- Girls who don't like the feeling of pads often find period underwear feels thinner and softer on their skin.
- Even high absorbency period underwear may not be up to a full day of heavy flow. You may need to plan to change your period underwear partway through a day (and bring a waterproof bag for the used ones.)
- Period underwear may feel more "wet" than a fast-absorbing pad; although many versions include a fast-wicking layer to minimize wetness.
Reusable Period Products for Tweens and Teens
Since their launch, women have loved Thinx period underwear, either alone or as a backup to another period product; now tweens and teens can enjoy them too! Thinx are washable, reusable period underwear with an absorbent layer in the gusset. Just like women's Thinx, there are a selection of absorbency levels to choose from, regular and super, so you can pick the pair that's perfect for you. Available in girls' sizes 9/10, 11/12, 13/14, and 15/16.
These period underwear from Tanscan are a terrific option for tweens and teens as a backup for their favorite period product so she'll never have to worry about leaks! These 95% cotton, 5% spandex underwear have a leakproof lining just in case a pad shifts or a tampon or cup leaks. Each pack comes with three colorful pairs, so she'll have enough for a few days before she needs to do a wash. Available in sizes to fit girls 70 to 100 pounds, 100 to 120 pounds, and 120 to 145 pounds.
This five pack of bamboo menstrual pads from Wegreeco even comes with its own wet bag! Wegreeco pads come in three sizes, including this small 8" long size that's perfect for tweens and young teens. The bamboo layer is soft on the skin, while the outer cover is both waterproof and comes in a variety of fun, colorful prints. Plus, girls will love how easy it is to pop the pads into the included bag for cleaning.
She'll be comfortable and secure in these hipster-style period underwear from Bambody! These period underwear include a leak-proof layer that extends all the way up the back of the underwear for maximum protection. Because these underwear are for light days, they don't include an absorbent layer, so they feel just like regular underwear! Plus, girls will love the sporty style. These underwear are available in women's sizes XX-small to extra-large.
Get her started on reusable menstrual products with this starter kit from Luna Cup that gives her a selection of products she can use! The Period Starter Kit includes Luna menstrual cups in small and large sizes, so she can figure out which fits her best; two reusable cloth pads; and two pouches, one silky and one waterproof, so she can carry her products discreetly. Luna cups are 100% medical grade silicone, so they're soft and comfortable, while the pads feature an absorbent bamboo charcoal layer on top and a waterproof layer on the bottom. This all-in-one kit gives her everything she needs to start trying reusable products!
Have a better (and more earth-friendly!) period with the Lunette Menstrual Cup! This bell-shaped cup gives you a comfortable, safe, odorless and ecological period for up to 12 hours a day. These menstrual cups are made of 100% silicone that's latex and BPA free, and their ridged exterior and air holes make it easy to remove and clean the cup. This model 1 cup is sized for younger and smaller users; it's suitable for a light to medium flow. It even comes in a selection of fun colors!
DivaCup menstrual cups are a great way to have a better period and protect the environment, all at once! These 100% health care-grade silicone cups are soft and flexible, and can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time with no leaks. The Model 0 is specifically designed for girls aged 18 and under, with a smaller, more slender design that's easier to insert and more comfortable. This set includes one DivaCup, a cotton storage bag, and a user's guide that includes advice on insertion as well as directions for cleaning.
If she'd like to try a menstrual cup for her periods, this menstrual cup from LENA is a great place to start! Made from 100% medical grade silicone and registered with the FDA, this cup is available in two sizes: the small size is best for first-time users and girls and women with a light flow, while the larger size is best for older teens and women or those with a heavy flow. While using a menstrual cup takes some practice, girls will love being able to do whatever they want — dance, run, even swim! — for a full day without worrying about their menstrual product.
She'll know she's got backup on hand with these period underwear from Yoyi Fashion! These 82.2% viscose, 17.8% cotton briefs feature a 84% nylon, 16% Spandex waterproof lining, perfect for catching spotting or small leaks. This four pack comes in a pretty floral design and includes four different colors, perfect for starting her period underwear stash. These underwear are available in women's sizes extra-small to 4XL.
Be ready for unexpected flow with these period underwear from Intimate Portal! These bikini-cut underwear are made from 48% cotton, 48% rayon, 4% Spandex modal fabric, with a cotton gusset and a waterproof outer layer. The absorbent layers can hold up to 20mL of fluid, equivalent to two regular tampons, and the protection extends up the back of the underwear for extra security. Plus, with 5 pairs in the pack, she'll have enough to get her through multiple days without doing a load of laundry!
This large waterproof pouch from Bumkins is the perfect solution for carrying larger reusable products like period underwear. This 12 by 14 inch pouch is made from Bumkins' signature polyester fabric with a waterproof layer; it's easy to clean and you can even carry a wet swimsuit in it without leaks. Girls will love this colorful Wonder Woman design and parents will appreciate that it's BPA, lead, and phthalate free.
Mighty Girls on the go will love this small waterproof pouch from Loomiloo! These zippered 8.6 by 5.3 inch pouches are just the right size for reusable pads, and since it's waterproof, she won't have to worry about leaks. A wide variety of colorful patterns ensure that every Mighty Girl will find a design she loves.