By our product tester Niamh Edwards
Period Cup vs Reusable Pads.
This is something I had been meaning to try for years now, I don’t know why I kept putting it off. Perhaps the thought of spending £30 on a period product I wasn’t absolutely sure I was going to love kept me umming and arring…
Two friends of mine have been on the reusable period product hype for years now and haven’t looked back, so I decided to take the plunge and join them.
Having had my period since my first year of secondary school, around 13 years old, I dread to think about how much money I have spent on tampons and pads (not to mention the food cravings and painkillers). A rough estimate of how much I have spent in that time on products alone is £936.
That is not taking into account the many times I’ve been caught short and had to buy emergency supplies.
So now, doing that calculation, reusable products seem even more viable.
But with a seemingly never-ending selection of products to choose from - different brands of period cups, pads and period underwear (even activewear!), where do I start if I'm completely new?
Precious Stars, is a UK based brand started by CEO Bryony when she was 15 years old. I wish I was that business minded at 15!
Precious Stars believe that everyone should be able to have access to comfortable and eco-friendly period products, they also give 1% of their sales each month to a charity named Empowerment Collective, based in Nepal.
They have budget friendly options that are more plain in colour but do the exact same job as their patterned and more colourful pads.
With period poverty being a global issue, if young, homeless or deprived people that can’t afford to buy products every month were given reusable pads like these from charities or their own government, it would save missed days from education, financial worry and a lot of shame and embarrassment from what is a naturally occurring process.
I bought the budget version because I didn’t know if I was going to like them and I myself an on a budget. Though the budget-friendly pads are made in China, Precious Stars pay a fair-wage price, and their sparkle range (slightly more expensive) is made in the UK.
How I got on
I wore the nighttime pads at (you guessed it) night. And I was so surprised with how well they absorb and how dry I felt.
I was fairly heavy over the night, and I had no leaking at all! This would have been perfect during my teenage years.
Sometimes the outer coloured fabric felt a bit scratchy (which may be my personal aversion to pads however…), but the absorbency was fantastic, they were easy to use, put on and clean (just pop them in the washing machine)
Precious Stars don’t contain harmful chemicals like many traditional pads and so if you have sensitive skin, endometriosis or fibroids, they may be a good option.
I you don’t like tampons and are looking for a more eco-friendly way of using pads, these can last up to 10 years!
The downside with all reusable pads however, I that when you’re out and about, you will need a wet bag or some kind of storage to put them in to take them home to wash.
Grace and Green period cup. Grace and Green make organic and eco-friendly period products, not just the cups but liners, pads and tampons. They are plastic free, chemical free and biodegradable. We also have a 25% off code and freebie for you at the end of this article!
I was drawn to this one because honestly, I’m a sucker for packaging and presentation.
The period cup is made from 100% hypoallergenic medical grade silicon and comes in two different colours and sizes:
Size A (21ml) for beginner cup users, normal to light flow and people that haven’t had children vaginally.
Size B (26ml) is for experienced cup users, normal to heavy flow and those that haven’t given birth vaginally.
Colours are translucent or and rosewater pink.
The size information was interesting to me, because I’ve not used a cup before and I haven’t had a baby BUT I do however have a heavy flow, so I apprehensively chose Size B. I don’t know if this was the right choice, but maybe it was - and I'll go into why.
In order for the cup to work, it has to create a seal within the vagina, like a tampon but it doesn't expand. You have to fold the cup to get it inside, then get it to open up, then manoeuvre and twist it so it creates an air-tight seal.
I'm not sure if this worked or not for a few reasons.
The first time putting the cup in, I wasn't sure I had it in right (as I had never used it before) so I kept it in for a few hours until I decided I wanted to see if I can get it out easily.
It was strange, I needed to pinch it out and that is quite hard to do with your finger and thumb when you're on the toilet and it was difficult to grip. The silicon is particularly thick and sturdy.
I didn't panic because I knew it had nowhere to go and eventually I got it out.
The second time I took it out was because I had leaked. I don't know if that was because I had filled it up and/or because I was laying down. But there was hardly blood when I tipped it into the toilet.
When I wasn't as heavy, trying to take the cup out proved more difficult, it had moved higher up, and was even harder to grip for some reason. I still seemed to leak even on this lighter day, however perhaps the cup hadn’t opened inside properly.
For these reasons, I don't know if the seal was made, if I had filled the cup up or if it was both or neither of these reasons.
I would recommend putting the cup in and taking it out in the shower where possible, because it is SO much easier and less messy!
The Grace and Green cup is great if you want a thick, shallow and sturdy cup and it is brilliantly eco-friendly and independently made. For me personally I think I need to try the smaller size, or a different brand of cup that is perhaps longer and maybe more flexible.
Update: I have had four Periods since starting using the Grace and Green period cup and I have managed to get to grips with it, even though it was quite daunting to start.
It does take some manoeuvring and getting used to (it makes it hard to urinate for some reason) but the actual ‘ins-and-outs’ become much easier. However, like the reusable periods pads, it’s not the greatest thing to change when you are out of the house. I was stuck in my friend’s bathroom for 10 minutes trying to sort myself out - I can imagine a public toilet being even more challenging and unhygienic if the sink is outside of the cubicle.
Another (maybe slightly petty) con of the cup is that period blood loves to settle in the base of the toilet unless you have a mighty powerful flush.
Overall, I was excited testing out the different products, and though there were draw backs, I am actually, now, fully behind the reusable products! I know that I'm going to have them there and not run out like I do with tampons or pads, and I also feel like I am being financial and sustainably savvy.
I just need to find the right cup for me, because I know they work, I just have some more fiddling around to do. Literally.
Precious Stars - https://preciousstars.co.uk/shop/cloth_pads/ (Range from £3-£8)
Grace and Green - https://graceandgreen.co/shop/ (Cups all £24.99)
Grace and Green have kindly offered our readers a 25% discount all first subscription orders or 25% off cups! Use the code SELFCARE at checkout.
All new subs or orders over £25 also receive a free botanical face & body bar!!! Thank you Grace and Green!