All menstrual products are valid

Whatever you choose is right for you

Illustration of various menstrual products, such as tampons, pads, and cups
ILLUSTRATION: Aliya Nourlan / The Peak

By: Hailey Miller, Staff Writer

There’s no wrong product to use when it comes to menstruation. Some people prefer pads, tampons, menstrual cups, leakproof underwear, or a combination of all of the above. Some people choose the more environmentally friendly route by using reusable products, while others prefer disposable hygiene products for convenience or accessibility reasons. All of these choices are valid.

The stigma that surrounds period products and menstruation is still problematic today. Some cultures see tampons as “dirty” and believe their use is an indicator of non-virginity. This is based on ideas around having menstrual blood outside the body, and ensuring the hymen — a “thin piece of tissue” sometimes present in the vagina — is preserved. In reality, a preserved hymen is not a true indicator of virginity, as explained by Planned Parenthood. In contrast, others see tampons as the better choice and claim pads are inferior or seen as an “adult diaper.” Neither of these outlooks help people access period products. 

Debunking the myth of “the best menstrual product” is long overdue. Some of us dabble in using many kinds of menstrual supplies, and this can change depending on our cycle or preference at the time. 

Some individuals are more sensitive to certain ingredients in menstrual products, which can include fragrances, dyes, and other toxins. People can also opt for toxin-free, organic cotton, or reusable options. Some say the cost of reusable products pays for itself over time. However, the upfront cost needed for these products may be a barrier for unhoused people, who don’t always have access to a space to change, carry, or clean these products. In many places where access to supplies is limited, people often use cloth pads made from fabric, or plant materials as their own period product. Product choice isn’t a determinant of one’s health. It’s relevant to comfort level, as some are more comfortable using certain products over others — like pads over tampons.

The availability of supplies isn’t the only deciding factor for period products, either — accessibility is also a huge component. Some disabled people have difficulty using one product over the other, especially if they have dexterity, muscular, or coordination issues. Others have medical conditions that prevent them from using certain products such as tampons.

Everyone should have the liberty to choose what’s right for them, but this is not always possible. Choosing a menstrual product can be difficult when it comes to options and availability. In some cultures, menstruation is still taboo, which can result in a lack of access to menstrual products and resources, as well as individuals being excluded from daily activities. Period poverty and affordability are significant factors that impact personal decisions based on product choice. Some don’t have the luxury of picking whichever product they desire based on cost and availability, which makes menstruation and hygiene more difficult and can result in people missing work and school. We must work to fight the stigma against menstrual products and menstruation itself. 

Whether you prefer one product over another, menstruation is different for everyone. Advocating for access to options is key to menstrual rights.

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