The only time I remember coveting my period was when all of my friends had gotten theirs and I was still waiting. Since that fortuitous moment nearly a decade and a half ago, having a period was never something I looked forward to. In fact, it was something I sought to medicate as heavily as possible, or do away with altogether.
Now that we know that our periods (much like our skin) are important communicators of hormonal health, we popped the cork on a formerly clandestine conversations around our cycles. With a modern mentality about our menses, we were forced to ask why we were reaching for the same tampons our mothers used. Sure, there were new scented, braided pearly varieties, but when it came to our well-being as women, what were we putting in our bodies, and what effects did they have?
Sure enough, a new guard of women took to answering those questions, and we now have a small selection of forward-thinking startups focused on creating better products and supporting women in developing countries who are still hindered personally and professionally by their periods. It's a win-win.
1. Organic tampons
First we scrutinized our food, then our beauty products, and now, finally, our feminine hygiene. While it took forever for this to change, it makes perfect sense: What we put in our body has an effect on our hormones, toxicity and well-being. For tampons, especially, since they are in our bodies for an extended period of time, it's very important that they're made with materials that aren't synthetic or laden with chemicals. Many of these companies also give back to women in need, which is just one more reason to jump on the bandwagon. Here are our favorites.
- CORA: We love that the packaging would be subtle enough to keep them out in the open on our desks. Gives a girl in a developing country a month's worth of pads so she can do anything on her period, bonus!
- SHE. tampons are organic and free of chemicals, dyes, and synthetics.
- LOLA has been around for a while and has many different varieties of natural menstrual accessories: two types of pads, applicator and non-applicator tampons.
- Conscious Period gives a box of tampons to a homeless woman in need when a box is purchased. Tampons are made of organic cotton, and applicators are BPA-free.
- Kali is one of our personal favorites because it comes with mist and wipes. A box of Kali makes you feel like a very prepared #queen.
- L. tampons are organic and hypoallergenic, and the company spends time and effort distributing health products to women living in Sub-Saharan Africa. They also have better-for-you condoms, if you're interested.
2. Organic pads (because pads are a thing)
Pads seemed like a thing of the past until the period trend gave permission to women who realized that sometimes it's better to just let things flow. LOLA, L., and Kali, mentioned above, are also purveyors of pads.
3. Menstrual cups and smart menstrual cups
If you've made the jump to menstrual cups, whether your reason was to save the environment or get in better touch with yourself, we applaud you. And if you've heard some weird stuff about them, don't fret; they're not as out-there as you may think. Below are our top picks.
- LOON Cup is the world's first smart menstrual cup that connects to an app to tell you more about your hormonal health.
- Diva Cup is super accessible, available at drug stores and was the "OG" menstrual cup.
- Lena Cup is an office favorite; we've personally experienced its comfort and flexibility. A+
- Ruby Cup is a menstrual cup with a social mission, donating to developing countries so young girls with their periods can stay in school.
4. Period panties
Ever ruin a perfectly good pair of underwear or have some already-ruined underwear you reserve for this special time of month? Period panties are the solution for this: Good panties everywhere don't need to stuffer! They're fine to wear by themselves on your lighter days and will catch any overspill on your heavy ones. Pro tip: We've heard these are especially helpful when switching to the cup.
- THINX are the most sophisticated period panties. You'd never know that they're different from your regular undies. Pro tip: Our features editor swears by them!
- Dear Kate is more playful in style and color options and offers yoga pants with extra-wicking technology as well.
- Luna Pads offer excellent starter kits and many different styles, if prints are more your speed.
5. Menstrual discs
It's not a menstrual cup, not a diaphragm' it's a menstrual disc! We haven't tried it yet, but FlexFits looks as though it combines the best of both worlds. It's more eco-friendly than pads and tampons since one disc lasts for 12 hours and, unlike the cup, it's disposable and doesn't need to be washed. Also, it makes sex on your period a much...cleaner...endeavor.
6. Period-tracking jewelry
If you're not into updating a journal or calendar on your own, Leaf urban jewelry by bellabeat tracks your reproductive health as well as sleep, activity, stress levels. It provides important information about your period and fertile days based on your period all in the context of your anxiety and activity levels.
7. Period care and subscription packages
If after all this, your period is a particularly painful time of month—treat yo'self. Or feel good about treating someone else. Camions of Care is kind of like sending a period care package to someone in need, by donating. And Monthly Gift is a subscription box delivered monthly full of tampons, pads, liners, and chocolate and also gives you access to their in-depth period-tracking app.