Posted by: scottishboomerang | December 2, 2007

Moon Pads?

Which do you prefer?

stvwmp2.jpg  OR thealternative.jpg?

Well now, that really begs the question, doesn’t it?  Which look more appealing to you? Even if you are a bloke, I’d bet you’d say the second picture.

Let’s you think I am a feminist eco-crusader, I’d like to point out that I’m blogging on this issue but twice, before moving on to other current affairs issues. Since screwing my courage to the sticking place and demonstrating how to use a menstrual cup with the aid of a euphemism (and where would sex education be without the euphemism) on YouTube, and reviewing the mooncup on this blog, I was scared that my YouTube account would fill up with nasty comments from The Big Tampon MNC’s in-house legal department threatening to sue, and 1001 teenage boys with toilet humour jokes, I have been nicely surprised by the response to my video. It’s early days, but my video has been given five stars by YouTubers and been viewed some 988 times (I admit, this achievement is modest in terms of YouTube). And not a purile adolesent boy or a peeved in-house Big Tampon MNC Lawyer in sight. I’m almost disappointed. 

External products are available which are kind to the environment, your pocket, and your body, and which, in my opinion, are better for any woman who for medical, cultural, religious reasons or personal preference, prefer sanitary towels (STs) to internal products.  They are to STs what the menstrual cup is to a tampon. Better. 

Ewww. That’s Even Grosser than Mooncups!”

Believe it or not, convincing women to use a washable menstrual pad (WMP) is in someways more difficult than persuading them to use a mooncup. Personally I think the reason is that the “Marketeers” of disposable products get you, and condition you really young. Leaf through a teen magazine for girls and see the aggressive advertising from the leading brands. Their names appear on every page. They sponsor the teen advice pages. Even the manufacturers of internal products know that if a young woman isn’t comfortable with internal products now, she might be in the future, and she will have had years of brand exposure before buying her first pack of tampons. Meanwhile, she can use the bleached, absorbency gel filled STs instead. And since most women have periods, there’s guaranteed revenue as the manufactures laugh all the way to the bank.  In spite of their benevolence towards women, very few of the leading brands (at the time of writing) have women in their corporate management.  So we’ve all had years of advertising and cultural conditioning which tells us that our periods are a “wound” that needs to be “dressed” and that the “dressing” must be disposed of. The implication being that the “dressing” is sterile (which it isn’t, its just bleached white).  So suggesting to many women that they can wash and reuse a menstrual pad is a bit like suggesting that its ok to wash an reuse a dressing for a post-surgical wound. It runs counter to received opinion.

The received opinion, however, is a load of codswallop. The absorbency gels in STs aren’t allowed in disposable nappies, and women who use cloth nappies (my mother did for me) are lauded as being environmentally conscious. Ask many of those same mothers to consider laundering their menstrual protection and you’ll get some raise eyebrows.  Logically though, it doesn’t make any sense. Nor does the implication, oft-touted, that washable products are only for hippies, ecofreaks, lesbians feminazis and communists (yes, it all gets very political under the surface). Well, I use them, and I am entering one of the most  conservative professions there is: law.  One day, I’ll stiffen my upper lip and don the Barrister’s wig and robes. These will cost me upwards of $1000 US dollars, which, funnily enough, is exactly the amount of money I will have saved by not using disposable products. Call me a hippy if you dare.

There are many women who prefer external products: for medical, cultural, or personal reasons. My feeling is WMPs are best for young women at their first periods and for post-partum mums, and for women who, owing to their internal shape, cannot use a menstrual cup with complete efficiency (these ladies often combine menstrual cups with WMPs). Generally speaking WMPs are made from natural-fiber cloth which sit snuggly inside well-fitting underwear. They come in a variety of deigns (some have pop-clip wings which hold the pad in place) and are available in many colours and designs.  After use, you soak them in a jar of cold water (or a nappy bin that you use for this purpose) and then launder them in a normal wash. By all accounts, they come out clean if you follow the manufacturers instructions. Severe staining can be taken care of by spot treating with soap and cold water, hydrogen peroxide, or drying in strong sunlight. They cost about 5.00 sterling or $8 US each, and last for up to ten years. They are more expensive than disposable STs – but, like menstrual cups, they last much longer, and so still represent a considerable cost saving.

What do they look like?

I think the surprising thing for many women is their appeal. Expecting plain white “dressings”, when I first saw them I realised that they could have aesthetic appeal and you actually feel happier just by looking at them. Less like you have some awful chronic illness.  All come in very soft, texturally pleasing material and many have funky, creative, and beautiful fabric designs. I’ve includes pictures throughout this post to give you a feel of what they look like.

What about cultural or religious issues?

Some women eshew internal products for religious or cultural reasons. The choice to use WMPs may raise eyebrows at home and provoke conflict with those you live with,and as a result, women from cultures with strong separation taboos and rules may find it difficult to switch to WMPs. I’ve lived in many cultures with people of different cultural and religious backgrounds and know how difficult this can be. I am NOT an expert in halal or kosher laws, so please refer to your spiritual advisor – in Britain at least, there are female experts in Jewish and Islamic law who, I understand, can be consulted in these matters (if you are such an expert in the laws of your religion, your comments would also be greatly appreciated on this blog).

Here’s how I would do it. Treat your WMPs the same way you would treat a baby’s washable diaper. Have a separate soaking bin or jar like a non-transparent Tupperware box, which you keep either in the bathroom or in the laundry room of your home. Several manufacturers make special wet bags, bags to cover your soaking jars, where you can store used WMPs before you soak them.  Though I am not an expert on halal or kosher rules, my understanding is that above waist things are treated separately from below-waist things, and generally, kitchen things are treated separately from bathroom things. Therefore, your kosher, halal or other cultural/religious requirements are likely to be met if you simply launder your WMPs in a separate wash from your family’s clothing, or in a separate basin from “above-waist” clothing.  Washing them is quick and simple, and you can also tumble-dry most products.

I would be very interested to hear from Muslim, Jewish, Indian or African women who use washable menstrual pads to get your perspectives on these issues. Please send me a comment – I won’t publish it directly if you don’t want me to, and your comments are always sent to my email before they are published online.  Please let me know in your comment if it is ok for me to publish it.

Where can I get them?

Washable pads are available in most developed countries (I’ll have to include a post at some later date on the situation in developing countries), and most companies ship worldwide.

Australasia:

Wemoon Menstrual Pads.

Wemoon is an Australian company and ships world wide. They have stockists in Japan and in the United Kingdom. Prices are  in Australian Dollars if you order directly from the website. You can order using wire transfer or major credit cards, but unfortunately don’t have a PayPal button.  These are all-in-one (you don’t have to take them apart to clean them): after use, soak them and wash them normally.  They also have a nice range of other products such as a “moonpurse” for storing your used pads when out-and-about that looks like a make-up bag. Their site is lovely and worth a look. They are also really helpful if you don’t have a credit card.  I’d say they are the people to go to if you live in South East Asia.

North America:

Sweetcheeks New Moon Mads

New Moon is a Canadian Company and ships worldwide. I ordered mine form here because their prices were actually the most reasonable (in my opinion) on the market. You can order via Ebay, with major credit cards, and they have a PayPal button, which means that ordering is very easy if you live internationally (I use PayPal where I can). They have a good range of products and fantastic deals including bundles and starter packs and “whole-cycle” packs, and have some of the best value offers I’ve seen. I was impressed because Sweetcheeks have adjusted their prices for the strong Canadian dollar to allow their international customers to benefit. That sold me. They get the Big Button space for this!

Reference Chart

Lunapads:

Likewise a Canadian company but with a presence in Europe, and are available through several stockists in the UK.  Again, they have a great website and a great range of products, including internal products, but they are a bit on the pricey side. (I have a friend who uses them, and she said they are great, but expensive. They perhaps have some of the best marketing around though. Since they are the only ones who have made something that can be uploaded to YouTube, you can view this at the bottom.

The main sites which resell these products are Gladrags in North America, and Plushpants in the UK – both sites are highly recommended.

Well, that about covers it. Comments are welcome!

 lunapads.jpgwemoon-pads.jpgthealternative.jpgwemoon-bags.jpg

Left to Right: Lunapads, Wemoon Pads, Home made pads, Storage and carrybags by Wemoon.

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Responses

  1. I live n India and am 21 years old. I really appreciate the fact that SOMEONE is talking about this!!! We have been using reusable clothpads forever. I wanted to tell people that its not as unhygenic as they think it is. I’ve never had any kind of infection or anything … ever! And neither has my mother. Or my grandmother. Another nice thing about using cloth pads is that you can vary the amount of layering depending on your flow coz you know how your body works! We’ve always used homemade ones. They’re pretty easy to make yourself … and I’ve always washed mine in soapnuts … totally chemical free!


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