Your Guide to Reusable Menstrual Products


Author: Erin Leeder (she/her)

So, you’re someone who cares about the environment (and your dollar) and you’ve decided to make to switch to reusable menstrual products. Now what? 

Here’s a quick and easy guide to some of the many options for reusable period products, from someone who has tried them all. 

Menstrual Cups

These are little silicone cups that sit up against your cervix inside your vagina and collect your menstrual blood. They typically cost around $35 CAD and can be found in many drugstores. 

There is definitely a learning curve when it comes to using a menstrual cup. There are a variety of techniques for inserting, removing, and cleaning the menstrual cup that you will want to learn. Since there is much to learn, menstrual cups can be a little intimidating and overwhelming. However, most people who try a menstrual cup love them after figuring them out! 

Once inserted menstrual cups are similar to tampons. You will not be able to feel it, and they leave you feeling dry. When you are ready to empty the cup it’s easy to take it out, dump out the contents, rinse, and reinsert. Unlike tampons, there is not a maximum amount of time that a menstrual cup can be left in. Depending on your flow, you could leave it in all day! Just be sure to check the recommendations for whichever cup you choose.

Perhaps the most well-known brand of menstrual cup is the DivaCup, but there are a variety of options. I personally only have experience with the DivaCup, and I couldn’t recommend this Canadian product enough! The only reason I stopped was that I had an IUD inserted, and my doctor advised me to not use a menstrual cup anymore. So if you have an IUD, this is something to talk to your doctor about before trying a menstrual cup. 

Period Underwear

These are exactly what they sound like! Period or leakproof underwear fit just like regular underwear but with an absorbent material that prevents any menstrual leaks. There are multiple different styles and cuts of period underwear that have different levels of absorbency, so you’ll be sure to find one that fits your flow and comfort level. However, with each pair clocking in around $40 CAD, it can be a little pricey. Especially when you consider you may need multiple pairs to get through just one day of your period! 

Which brings me to another potential con: you may need to change your underwear multiple times throughout the day.

This wouldn’t be a problem if you are at home, but I can imagine having to do this in a public washroom may not be to most convenient. Many people choose to use period underwear only on their lighter days when they can wear one pair all day, or use it with a tampon or menstrual cup if they are worried about leaking. 

The period underwear I like to use is from the Canadian company, Knix. I like that they have so many options for styles and levels of absorbency. I also love that they always have fun colours and patterns to choose from. They even offer leakproof sleepwear, and products specifically made for teens!

Reusable Pads

Way back when...these were the norm! Again, these are pretty self-explanatory. They function very similarly to the single-use pads you’ve probably used before, except when you’re done with it you wash and reuse it instead of throwing it out. These tend to be about $15-$25 CAD each, and if you’re crafty you may be able to sew them yourself! Since they’re so similar to typical sanitary pads, they’re very easy to use! However, some people may find these a little bulky and uncomfortable, especially if you aren’t used to using pads. If you are a regular pad user this would be a simple swap to reduce the amount of waste you create on your period!

My go-to reusable pads are from another Canadian brand, Omaiki. They’re easy to snap in place and have a bit of sticky elastic to keep them in place. They come in lots of fun colours and patterns and have a few different styles to fit your flow and preferred type of underwear (even thongs). They also make cloth diapers, so you know that they’re good and absorbent!

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Finally, an important point to make when discussing reusable period products is that whatever you choose to use is your choice! These products do have a larger up-front cost than many single-use period products and require water access to wash the products so they can be used in a hygienic way. Not everyone can use reusable menstrual products because of these limitations. Additionally, not everyone is comfortable with reusable menstrual products for whatever reason. 

If you have the means to do so, then I encourage you to think about reducing the waste created by your period, but nobody should be shamed for how they choose to deal with their period. 

Erin Leeder (she/her) is a graduate student from Saskatchewan, Canada. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram @leederin.

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