Make 2017 a year of exploration and break free from old habits of using tampons and pads. Here are some alternatives that you might like.
FLEX is probably the most innovative product to enter the feminine care market, solidified by more than $4 million dollars in seed round. The menstrual disc is a class II medical device worn internally and works by covering the cervix, collecting fluid instead of absorbing. “Because of its position, it leaves the vaginal canal free of obstruction, which can help alleviate cramps and allows for mess-free period sex,” says Lauren Schulte, founder and CEO of The Flex Co. In addition, FLEX is made of a proprietary blend of medical-grade polymers. “These materials were chosen because they do not disrupt the pH of the vagina and have antimicrobial properties,” Schulte says. “It’s made without natural rubber latex and is vegan and hypoallergenic.”
Seeing a recent resurgence in popularity are menstrual cups, which were originally invented in the 1930s. At the forefront are the Ruby Cup and DivaCup, both made of 100-percent medical-grade silicone. “Consumers are becoming more savvy and educated,” says Daniela Masaro, brand marketing manager of Diva International Inc., creator of The DivaCup. Its product is a bell-shaped menstrual cup, free of chemicals, plastics and dyes. The cup is worn internally and collects menstrual flow, providing 12 hours of leak-free protection. “In today’s world of disposable products, consumers are looking for products that will not have a detrimental effect on their health or the environment,” she says. DivaCup is recommend for one-year use.
The menstrual cup is here to stay. “It’s a product that is getting noticed more and more. Five years ago, market data available was close to zero, but this year the first market report on menstrual cups appeared [and] predicts a four percent annual growth,” says Amaia Arranz, strategic partnerships manager for Ruby Cup. The initial reaction toward the menstrual cup is usually skep- ticism—but after a learning curve, something happens. “It’s like something changes in your mindset,” Arranz says. “You feel more clean, you feel nicer during your period and you start to get this wow feeling and begin asking, ‘Why did I not know about this hundreds of periods ago?’” Ruby Cup can be used for up to 10 years.
There’s also Thinx, pretty underwear that help further contain your period. Styles include hip-huggers, hi- waist, cheeky, thongs and more. Created by sisters Radha and Miki Agrawal and friend Antonia Saint Dunbar, Thinx is suggested in addition to tampons or cups. An extra protection layer, Thinx’s inner lining is treated with an antimicrobial application of silver, which becomes embedded within the fibers and fights bacteria.
ADVANCING THE CONVERSATION
Sadly period stigma is a very real thing, particularly in developing countries. “The taboo of menstruation is a perpetuation of the patriarchy, and its dismantling is paramount of women’s equality and rights,” says Hayward, of Cora. To help continue advancing the conversation about menstruation, these companies donate time and money to nonprofits and organizations.
Kali partners with Girl Up to help girls understand that menstruation is healthy and natural. Lola launched its own program to improve access to feminine care in the U.S. and has donated more than 100,000 tampons through partnerships with Support the Girls, Distributing Dignity and Simply the Basics. Cora gives products to girls in developing countries for every monthly supply sold. For every Ruby Cup sold, the company donates a cup to a schoolgirl in Africa. “The problem no one talks about is the millions of girls and women whose lives really do stop when they have their period because they are not allowed to participate in daily routines for cultural or religious reasons or they do not have access to products to manage their menstrual flow,” Arranz says. “This is what the conversation should be about, not so much about blue liquid and white hot pants.” Thinx donates funds to AFRIpads, a social business in Uganda that hires local women and trains them to sew and sell washable, reusable cloth pads, in turn creating entrepreneurs. “If we lived in a world where every woman lived unashamed of her own body, think of the collective mind space we’d free up for women to focus on solving the world’s most pressing problems,” says FLEX’s Schulte.