Rita Lee used to say, woman is weird, every month she bleeds. When it comes to menstruation, a lot has changed since the time of our grandparents.
Increasingly empowered, women have been seeking practical and more hygienic alternatives to the menstrual period.
The use of traditional absorbents has been criticized by new generations because of the discomfort and unforeseen events they can cause; and even for the impact they have on the environment. More modern alternatives, collectors and menstrual panties have been gaining adepts in the country. Many, however, still have doubts as to whether these devices pose risks to their intimate health.
The menstrual collector, also called the “cup”, is shaped like a chalice and is used to collect menstrual blood. It is adjustable to the body, hypoallergenic and, above all, economical. It costs between R$ 70.00 and R$ 150.00, but it is reusable, and can last from five to ten years, if well preserved. The main advantage, however, is that unlike traditional absorbents, which have to be changed at intervals of a few hours, the collectors made of silicone only need to be removed, emptied and washed every 6 to 12 hours, depending on the intensity of menstrual flow.
“Women who wish to try the menstrual collector need first to know that it is placed in the entrance of the vagina and can therefore cause some discomfort the first few times of use. And although it offers a low risk of infection, it is essential that they are concerned about hygiene. It is necessary to clean it well before reusing it so that the vaginal canal is not infected by bacteria”, warns gynecologist Juliana Pierobon, from Altacasa Clínica Médica, in the capital city of São Paulo.
Keeping the collector clean is simple. Just wash it with soap and water during the menstrual period and then boil it and store it for use the following month. There is no bad smell. As the blood does not come into contact with the air, the collector also does not have the bad odor of the absorbents used.
“The brands available on the market offer two sizes of collectors, one for women who have not had children and another for those who are mothers. Those who have not yet had sexual intercourse need to assess whether it is worth using, since the hymen can break when introducing or removing the cup. Women who had children less than 40 days ago should also avoid using it mainly because of the risk of infection” guides the doctor.
Another novelty is the menstrual panty, which has antimicrobial tissue with odor blocker and high absorption capacity. It can be worn for up to 12 hours, including during exercises in gyms. “The menstrual panty is like the traditional one we know. The only difference is that, besides lingerie, it absorbs all menstrual flow. Since it has to be changed every day, at least three such panties are needed for the days of the cycle. And you have to wash them carefully as soon as they are removed so they can be reused. Cleanliness is fundamental,” emphasizes Dr. Juliana.
The prices of the master panties vary from R$ 75 to R$ 95. Who already wore them, approved. They say it’s even more practical than the collector. It doesn’t leak, it doesn’t leave the woman wet and, in general, it’s comfortable and well finished, but that varies according to the brand, since there are some on sale over the Internet. All have black lining to avoid possible stains and the absorbent fabric that “fills” the bottom is thick but soft. The biggest problem is the washing time. Avoid washing in the box because of the large amount of blood that comes out. Prefer the tank. On the Internet, women can also buy even bikini and menstrual swimsuits.
For the gynecologist at Clínica Altacasa, each woman needs to find the best option to replace the use of internal pads or plastic pads if she really doesn’t want to use them anymore. To do this, find out the advantages and disadvantages of menstrual collectors and panties before buying them.
- Price: Even if they are initially more expensive – they cost between R$70.00 and R$150.00, depending on the brand – in the long run it is more economical, since it eliminates the need for women to buy absorbents monthly. It can last up to ten years.
- Autonomy: Unlike absorbents, which must be changed at intervals of a few hours, menstrual collectors need only be removed, emptied and washed approximately every 12 hours – but this recommendation varies according to the manufacturer and according to menstrual flow.
- Comfort: For many women, who have little menstrual flow, collectors are particularly useful. Traditional pads can dry out the vagina and irritate the groin, causing discomfort. Not the cup.
- Sustainability: As it is reusable, the collector eliminates the need for plastic packaging, boxes and applicators. Moreover, it does not produce waste, not even plastic.
- Adaptation: It may take a few months for the woman to adapt to placing and removing the collector, and no longer feel uncomfortable with the silicone cable that is outside the vaginal canal.
- Size: You have to keep an eye on the right size. There are two sizes and the choice depends on factors such as cervical height and menstrual flow. In some cases, it is also necessary to use, in addition to the collector, a thin absorbent to prevent leakage.
- Blood contact: For some users, the use of the collector is a challenge because it increases contact and visualization with menstrual blood. It is necessary to remove and empty the cup every 12 hours after all.
- Hygiene: Since it is necessary to wash the collector after emptying it, it is necessary to have access to a private bathroom where this can be done with privacy. The common absorbent can be disposed of more easily.
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- Sustainability and comfort: Women who wear do not usually feel a difference between menstrual panties and traditional panties. Menstrual panties are reusable, have smell blocking fabric and, unlike plastic absorbents, have high absorption capacity.
- Durability: Can be used for approximately two years. If we put it on the tip of the pencil, the value you would spend on disposable absorbents in this period is much higher.
- Security : The menstrual panty has several layers, is super absorbent and does not let the blood leak if used the correct model, since there are different models for each type of flow: light, moderate and intense.
- Antiallergic : The panty tissues are hypoallergenic, i.e. they are not aggressive to the skin.
- * It is recommended that the wearer has three different models of menstrual panties, choosing each one according to the day of the cycle (less or more flow) and the period of wear on a given day (if you stay out longer, wear one with more flow).
- Product quality: As there is still no strict enforcement in the country regarding the use of materials to make these panties, many Brazilians still find bad menstrual panties in the market, contrary to what occurs in countries such as the USA and Germany, where the use is already common.
- Size: Many women find it hard to find the right size for their menstrual panties when buying over the Internet, as they need to fit their bodies well but not so tight as to bother.
Young woman hand holding menstrual cup. Selective focus and shallow DOF