Is your little girl going to start her period soon? If so, this is a must-read. We offer the pros and cons of menstrual hygiene products to help empower girls from adolescence into womanhood.
Menstruation has been spoken about in hushed tones since the beginning of time. Even now, it is still considered to be a taboo subject in many cultures. Menstruation should be a confident rite of passage for teen and tween girls. Research suggests that many teenage girls experience anxiety and embarrassment about menstruation, which plays a role in their lack of confidence and self-esteem. A study published in the Journal of Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology found that over 60% of adolescent girls reported feeling self-conscious about their periods.
Girls who feel positive about their periods are more likely to approach it in a healthy manner. They will use appropriate hygiene products and get proper medical care when it’s needed. However, girls who feel negativity around menstruation are likely to miss school and social activities during their period.
Menstrual health must be discussed openly and positively so that young women feel empowered when they start their periods.
Nowadays, there are a wide variety of products on the market designed to provide women with their health and hygienic needs. By exploring these options and understanding their differences, girls can find the best solution to meet their individual needs and feel empowered to manage their periods with confidence.
Here are 7 menstrual hygiene solutions worth talking about:
- Period starter kits
Starter kits are perfect for adolescent girls about to menstruate. Usually, a pack will include a range of menstrual products and educational materials to help girls to confidently manage their first period.
Pros: They are a comprehensive solution for girls and reduce the stigma associated with menstruation.
Cons: The kit may not include all the menstrual products or information that a girl needs, and they can be quite costly.
Purchase online from www.lunalove.co.za
- Menstrual cups
Menstrual cups are made of medical-grade silicone, latex, or elastomer and are inserted into the vagina during menstruation to collect menstrual blood. They are reusable and therefore eco-friendly. They can be comfortably worn for up to 12 hours and are cost-effective in long run.
Pros: They are eco-friendly, cost-effective, and can be worn for long periods of time without having a negative impact on health or hygiene. They reduce the risk of *Toxic Shock Syndrome.
Cons: Learning how to insert a menstrual cup can be challenging, and it may take some time to find the right size and fit.
- Menstrual sponges
Menstrual sponges are a natural option that are made from soft, porous sea sponges. They are inserted into the vagina like tampons to absorb menstrual blood.
Pros: They are eco-friendly and can be reused for up to 6 months with proper care. They are also soft and comfortable.
Cons: They require regular cleaning and sterilisation and are not as absorbent as other options. They can carry the risk of infection if not cleaned properly. They aren’t readily available.
Buy online from www.faithful-to-nature.co.za
- Period proof panties, leggings & swimming costumes:
These 3 products provide leak-proof protection for girls during their periods as they are made of special, high-absorbency fabrics and padding, all designed to absorb menstrual blood and prevent leaks.
Pros: They are comfortable to wear and can be worn alone or as a backup to other menstrual products. They are reusable and can be washed and worn for several cycles.
Cons: They may not be suitable for heavy periods or prolonged use without being changed. They are expensive compared to other options.
We highly recommend this local business for re-usable menstrual pads: Thanaps
- Reusable menstrual pads
Reusable cloth pads are easy to use, soft and washable. They are reasonably new to the market and are a comfortable and eco-friendly alternative to disposable pads and tampons.
Pros: They are more comfortable to wear than disposable pads, eco-friendly and can save you money in the long run.
Cons: They need to be washed after each use and may not provide full protection during heavy periods.
Clicks stores stock various brands of reusable pads. Or, purchase socially responsible Palesa Pads online at http://www.palesapads.com/ or at Pick n Pay stores – they supply free pads to disadvantaged schoolgirls.
- Organic pads & tampons
Organic disposable sanitary pads and tampons are eco-friendly and gentle to use as they are made from raw cotton and biodegradable materials. They are completely free of fragrances, dyes, bleaches and parabens so won’t cause any irritations.
Pros: They are eco-friendly and kind to sensitive skin.
Cons: They are more costly than normal disposable pads and not as easily available. Tampons can cause Toxic Shock Syndrome if not used correctly, however there is less risk of TSS with organic cotton.
Dis-Chem stores stock the ANNA brand. Or, purchase the Masmi brand online via www.faithful-to-nature.co.za or www.worthyco.co.za and other health and wellness stores. Flo Organic cotton tampons are available at Clicks.
- Disposable menstrual pads & tampons
Pads and tampons are a popular option for many girls as they are easy to use, cost effective and widely available. They come in various sizes, shapes, and absorbencies. Unfortunately, they are not eco-friendly.
Pros: They are easy to use and can be changed as often as needed. Pads do not require insertion into the vagina, while tampons are discreet because they are inserted.
Cons: Pads can feel bulky and cause irritation. They can also shift around during physical activity and may not offer 100% protection during a heavy period. Tampons can be painful to insert, need regular changing and increase the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome.
Find them in most grocery stores and pharmacies, countrywide.
What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?
Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) can occur when tampons are left in for longer than 8 hours by producing a staph bacteria which grows and forms toxins in the body that can lead to TSS. Symptoms include high fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, and a rash on the palms of hands and soles of feet. It is important to use tampons according to the instructions on the packaging and change them regularly.
Written by: Laurel Pretorius