Apr 19 2012

Frugal supplies for ‘that time of the month’

This post is for the ladies. I’m sure you’ve gathered that by the title already, but I thought I’d put out a fair warning to any men who might be reading this. I do think men should understand how women’s bodies work, but I realize men (and women) may not want to read about it here. Fair warning!

How many menstrual cycles do women have over a lifetime? A lot. If you figure 12 or so per year, starting at around age 12 and continuing until oh, age 45-50, you’re looking at 400+ periods. Subtract for times of pregnancy or lactational amenorrhea, and you’re still probably dealing with a visit from Aunt Flo a few hundred times. Yay.

If you’re buying a pack of pads or a box of tampons each month or so, the costs over time can be expensive. Watching for sales and stacking with coupons is helpful, and I’ve also sent away for some free samples to have on hand.

Some current free samples and coupons:

There is some controversy regarding the use of tampons, though. Some people are concerned with the chemicals within, and dioxins and other stuff like that which could be harmful. Organic tampons do exist. But then there’s that pesky problem of regularly spending money on the products.

Some women use a reusable menstrual cup, such as a Diva Cup*, Moon Cup* or a Keeper*. Please note that most of these cups have two sizes — one for if you’ve not had a vaginal childbirth and one if you have.

A few years ago, I won a Keeper from a giveaway done by Mrs. Money (see her Keeper review). I didn’t have a chance to use it immediately after winning, but a few months ago I finally gave it a shot.

I had a hard time with it at first. There is a learning curve! I gave up and used disposable products for that cycle. The next one though, I thought I’d try it again, and I was able to get it to work a lot easier. I’m still getting used to it and it wasn’t totally leak-free at all times, but I think a few more cycles and I should be more comfortable with it.

In terms of actual comfort, it was more of a challenge to um, place the thing than a tampon. Removing it was also a challenge at times. But, once it was in position, I was fine and didn’t notice it.

Considering the Keeper is reusable and is made of a natural material, I definitely want to keep using it in the future at least part-time. A $30ish reusable menstrual cup could last 10+ years. Say you spend $5/month on disposable products and have 12 cycles in a year — that’s $600, plus inflation.

You can purchase reusable menstrual pads and liners, if you’re so inclined to do that laundry. I have 3 FuzziBunz menstrual pads, but I don’t think they’re made anymore. I’d like to purchase some additional reusable liners to use as backup, so if you have any recommendations I’m all ears. Then again, a disposable pack of liners can be inexpensive and last a lot longer, if used as backup.

If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can create your own reusable menstrual pads or liners. Also at that link is a no-sew idea.

Do you use reusable menstrual products? Your thoughts?

*Denotes affiliate link

16 Responses to “Frugal supplies for ‘that time of the month’”

  1. I don’t know about the Keeper, but I use the Diva Cup and the instructions say to replace it after a year.

    There are also other options like sea sponges and you can also knit or crochet your own reusable tampons. This site is great with lots of info: http://www.ecomenses.com/

    I noticed a lot of health changes after switching to reusable mama cloth/diva cups. I am not someone who frets over toxins everywhere, and I only tried mama cloth because my SIL made some pads for me. WOW! It was such a difference, I couldn’t go back. My cycle was shorter and my cramping was a lot less. Also, I just felt better “down there” – I think perhaps disposable pads dry out my skin. I am sure this isn’t the case for everyone, but it was significant for me.

  2. I’ve had a Diva cup for four years now, and have no inclination to go back to pads and tampons. There are chemicals in disposable feminine products that I really don’t want my body to absorb, plus I actually found that my cramps were less intense with the Diva cup. I’m not sure how it works, but I’m not complaining!

    The only thing I don’t love is that after a few years the cup started to discolor, even though I clean it carefully. But that’s very minor.

  3. I have a Diva Cup, i’ve tried it once or twice but couldn’t get it right, I was afraid to really leave it in for fear of leaks. I guess it just takes some time to get used to and get it in just right, it is a challenge for me, but then again, Tampons weren’t the most comfortable things when i first started using them either.

    As for reusable pads, i just can’t get myself to even try them, but i am grossed out by disposable pads too. I’m sure they do feel a lot better though!

  4. I had a Diva Cup, but it never felt super comfortable, but I did some research and found some great user-made guides on all the types out there. I ended up buying a Lunette, which was better, and then a Fleurcup, which is perfect for me — it’s a lot softer and easier to insert. I won’t ever go back! I still use pantiliners as a backup, but someday I’ll probably go cloth with those, too. There are a ton of brands out there, so don’t stop trying with the first one you hear about.

  5. I visit a website that sells reusable feminine products. Here is the web address: http://www.naturallycozy.com/order-pads.html
    They seem pricey, but as you noted it is much more economical than disposable. I haven’t bought or used them, so I don’t have an opinion.


  6. I’ve tried the DivaCup but never could get the hang of it.

  7. Seems like several of you (myself included) are still either getting the hang of a Keeper-like thing, or just gave up.

    That’s why I like to have some sort of backup liner or the sort just in case…but yeah.

    Ashley, I have noticed a difference in what you were describing too.

  8. I wanted to give the reusable cups a try but decided to do some research. I found that it would not be a good fit for me because I have a tilted uterus. So I never tried it.

  9. I forgot to mention that since my daughters started using pad, I have changed to Seventh Generation because it’s better for the environment. I buy them online at least 15 packs at a time for a good price.

  10. I’ve used a Diva cup for about 2 years (my information says to replace them after 10 years). There’s definitely a learning curve, and I still use disposable products if I’m going to be out and about on my heaviest day. My periods were really off after my last pregnancy. I would bleed like crazy for a day and a half, then just spot. The Diva cup has volume measurements on the sides, so I recorded the volume I was passing, and gave that information to my Midwife. She was able to tell me right away that everything was okay, my body was just “super efficient” at periods, and I needed to watch my iron levels on those days. Without that information, she said she would have recommended blood tests and possibly trans-vaginal ultrasounds to make sure there wasn’t anything causing me to bleed unnecessarily. I’m guessing the Diva Cup saved me an additional $500 that day
    If you’re having trouble placing the cup, try doing it in the shower.

  11. I’m a pads girl, and I love my cloth pads. They don’t gross me out at all (my husband is another story…) I never have had any desire to use tampons or a cup. I do agree with Ashley- my cycles seems shorter and lighter than with disposable pads.

  12. When I was dead broke I bought a few cloth pads for “in case” never used them and often chuckle when I think of the guys at Goodwill unpacking them! I DO look for freebies though since there’s 2 of us with the “visit” and we use very different products due to size, activity level, age, etc. Thanks for the links!

  13. I have also found the Diva cup works better on heavier flow days. At the end when it’s just a little bit, I prefer a cloth pantiliner.

    My sister-in-law told me that when she did the research, she found that manufacturers put chemicals in disposable products to draw out and attract the flow, which is why we notice a difference in our cycles when we go cloth. I have not done the research myself, but it doesn’t surprise me in the least.

  14. Getting my doc to prescribe the pill in a way so I only need protection 4 times a year has been wonderful! I basically take the pills for 3 months, then a week off. Wish I would have done it years ago.

  15. I’ve heard about those cups, but I never had the urge to try one though. It just seemed a bit difficult and reading about leaks made them a huge turn off. I have a thing about leaks…

  16. I have used a diva cup for 6 years now and would never go back. I do have to use a pantiliner with it because it can be a bit messy and I want the security, but I get the unscented ones from free all the time. I don’t remember the last time I paid money for feminine products. I have saved so much money by using the diva cup and it is better for me too.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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