Before you jump to the list of some important feminine hygiene products, you must be clear with the actual concept of feminine hygiene. What does feminine hygiene mean? As known by most people, it refers to the intimate hygiene of women and women’s health in terms of menstruation and genitals.
However, this term is nothing but a marketing strategy to urge cisgender women to buy products labelled as “feminine hygiene products” and feel better about their vagina. The vagina is a self-cleaning organ, which means that it does not need external care for cleansing and maintenance.
Though young women can still use feminine hygiene products to lock odour, solve dry skin issues, or have a lesser itchy vagina. Do focus on how using feminine hygiene products is not a necessity but just an additional option you have to maintain your vulvovaginal health. Not using these products does not make you dirty!
Menstrual Flow and Menstrual Blood
Let us understand menstrual blood better now. When the egg in your uterus sits unfertilized, the body decides to let go of it. Hence, the soft cushion-like walls that hold the egg comes off with it. This soft layer, called the endometrium, flows to the cervix and finally gets out of your body through the vagina. That is what your menstrual blood is!
This happens about every 28 days. The repeated period that a female gets every month is referred to as the menstrual cycle. Many women get period cramps and body aches around their time of menstruation. They can also tell how their bodies are doing by checking their menstrual flow, consistency, texture, and blood colour.
Read Also: Breaking the menstrual taboos.
For example, thick red or dark brown flow suggests that the girl has a healthy and normal period. If girls get clots or a lumpy menstrual flow that is black in colour, it probably highlights infections, miscarriage, or simply suggests that the current flow contains older period blood.
Do check with a trustworthy healthcare provider of yours if you get abnormally heavy, smelly, or light-coloured flow. Reproductive health risks or health conditions may cost you a lot, so it’s better to be on the safer side as soon as you figure out something strange about your genitals or menstrual cycle.
Must-Have Feminine Hygiene Products
Now that you have a better understanding of what a menstrual cycle is and basic terms related to it, we can begin with our list of must-have feminine hygiene products. These are also known as menstrual hygiene products, which are made to take care of your body during vaginal discharge, menstruation, and other vagina or vulva-related bodily functions.
1) Menstrual Cups
While tampons absorb menstrual blood, menstrual cups collect it. These are made of medical-grade rubber or silicone, which is safe to insert and pull out of a vagina. It is soft and flexible, so you can fold and insert it into your vagina. This internal period product is reusable once you cleanse it and dispose of all the blood collected in it. If properly washed and taken care of, these menstrual cups can last for years!
One of the best features of menstrual cups is that, unlike tampons, they aren’t linked to the Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). After the female is done using a menstrual cup, she pulls on the tab to remove it from the vagina and then spills the collected blood into the toilet. It must be cleaned properly to prevent any kind of pelvic inflammatory disease or bacterial infection.
Many women are hesitant to switch from disposable feminine hygiene products to a menstrual cup as they believe that its usage is a lot to figure out, and it may be uncomfortable. However, it is a great alternative to tampons, especially if you use just a single cup for a very long time, since it is an eco-friendly option.
These cups come in various sizes depending on the flow and if the user has given birth vaginally. The producers take women’s health seriously, so you can stop doubting this innovation in the feminine hygiene market.
2) Period Stain Removing Liquid
Yes, girls, yes! You don’t need to worry about that little spot on your favorite pair of trousers if you have a period stain remover with you. Usually, these liquids come in spray bottles with a free brush to rub and remove that irritating stain from your clothes. Most brands offer antibacterial stain removers, which can be used on all fabrics.
The solution does not contain any harsh chemicals. To name a few, formaldehyde, parabens, and SLS/SLES are considered strong chemicals. But this solution is safe to use on clothes as well as on the skin! It also has a no-bleach foaming formula which is very gentle on all kinds of fabrics.
Now you must be wondering about the magic this solution does to remove period stains. It contains bio-enzymes that digest the protein of the bloodstain, while the foam removes the color and blood from the cloth.
3) Flat-fit Menstrual Cups
Women compromise on their love life and sexual desires many times due to their period. Not all women consider having period sex. But it’s time to stop giving up your sexual desires, girls! Companies in the feminine hygiene market also render cups that are safe for use during sex.
Apart from being hygienic, they’re also pretty comfortable to use. Unlike the standard period cups’ fennel-like shape, these cups are flat and made of medical-grade silicone, which provides much more comfort to the user. They also have a double-rim to prevent leakage.
Although this cup provides protection for about 8-12 hours, it is recommended to be washed every 3-4 hours to avoid the chances of getting infections or discomfort in the vaginal area. The folders that come for the storage of these cups, usually free with the cup, make the entire usage and maintenance a lot more convenient.
Inserting anything into your vagina, even a menstrual cup or tampons, can be a little uncomfortable. Lubricants are used for better insertion and pleasurable sex. These lubes are soothing water-based solutions that reduce dryness and discomfort in the vaginal region, making it one of the best feminine hygiene products.
It uses a glycerine-free formula to prevent infections and is safe to use frequently since it contains natural ingredients. On top of that, it is dermatologically tested too! These lubes maintain the pH of the vagina and are safe to use with latex condoms and toys. Those who try a menstrual cup for the first time can apply this lube on the rim of the cup for easy insertion.
5) Intimate Washes
The intimate area of girls is pretty sensitive and can get irritated or catch infections easily. So, to maintain the pH of the vagina and reduce or eliminate irritation in the vaginal and pelvic areas, concerned brands have created intimate washes for women.
Common or unscented soap could irritate your vaginal area. So an intimate wash is mainly used to cleanse the area and reduce irritation, itching, dryness, and bad odour of the intimate area. These washes also support your body in maintaining the acidic mantle of the skin to maintain the vaginal pH level, which is 3.5.
6) Period Panties
These are specially designed underwear that can absorb blood without the use of disposable cotton pads or tampons. The fabric is such that it prevents leakage and staining and locks odour. It is 100% washable too!
While some girls prefer wearing period panties with a panty liner, some are comfortable with underwear only. The only issue with this product is that it can be very costly as compared to the other feminine hygiene products.
Disposable Feminine Hygiene Products
Now that we’ve mentioned the reusable feminine hygiene products let us move on to the ones that are disposable. These are probably the most commonly used feminine hygiene products in the market. Let’s start listing them!
1) Sanitary Napkins
Generally known as sanitary pads, or simply pads, these are the most-used feminine hygiene product used by women and young girls. You can find women using pads throughout the world, in all countries. Old or low-income women use cloth during their period days, but they might contain harmful bacteria, which can cause bacterial infections and affect their overall vulvovaginal health.
The safer choice is sanitary pads which absorb blood and provide you comfort for 4-6 hours per pad. You can dispose of these pads in the packets that they come in or wrap them in menstrual bags or papers. The sizes and thickness vary on the different levels of flow that a female would have. It is supposed to be stuck to the underwear and worn for a few hours. Thin sanitary napkins that are used for lighter flow are known as panty liners.
Sanitary pads contain cotton for comfort and gels that absorb blood. However, women who are conscious of the environment do not prefer using this product as it is mostly non-biodegradable and not eco-friendly. Nonetheless, it is widely accepted and used by girls in all the countries in the world.
2) Pain Relief Strips
No matter what food a woman eats, how good her lifestyle is, or how much she exercises, women often get period cramps or pain around the abdominal region or lower back. It is not a health issue until it gets too painful to bear, so it is nothing to worry about. However, it can get annoying to just sit with a hot water bottle or heating pad stuck to your belly all day long.
What if you need to go out? What if, right in the middle of an exercise or a presentation, you get that stupid menstrual pain? Taking medicine can be a good short-term option, but it has side effects and makes the body a little weaker in terms of pain tolerance.
Menstrual pain or muscle pain relief strips and patches are the better substitutes for heating pads or hot water bottles. These strips provide up to 12 hours of relief from pain with the fragrance of natural oils. You can stick it to the inside of your pants or underwear. It can be used to relieve menstrual pain, back spasms, or muscular pain.
Tampons are internal menstrual feminine hygiene products that absorb menstrual blood when inserted into the vagina. Females consider it more comfortable than pads for activities like sports, swimming, jogging, etc. as it absorbs the blood internally. With many girls switching to tampons, this product has seen high growth in markets in the past few years.
These are made of cotton, rayon, or cotton and rayon combined, keeping the overall vaginal well-being in consideration. They come with an applicator for insertion into the vagina. If not, the user has to use their fingers to insert it. Public bathrooms usually have dispensers that provide sanitary pads or tampons for use.
4) Toilet Seat Covers
A big problem that every girl faces is peeing in public washrooms as the seat might contain harmful bacteria. If there’s bacterial overgrowth on or around the vagina, it might cause bacterial vaginosis, which needs medical treatment. That’s where toilet seat covers come into play.
Toilet seat covers are probably one of the best feminine hygiene products to ever exists! While many women use toilet paper to cover the seat, it won’t be as effective as an actual seat cover. It might cause infection too. So many plastic and paper-based covers are available in shops which are disposable. The paper-based toilet seat covers are friendly for the environment and hence, are a better option.
Tips for Feminine Hygiene
You can’t maintain hygiene just by using different feminine hygiene products. You must also know some basic things that we usually do wrong or aren’t aware of to be healthy in terms of intimate hygiene. So here are some tips for you: –
- Pee after sex to reduce the chances of catching sexually transmitted diseases.
- Don’t use chemical-based tampons as they might affect your vaginal health.
- Drink hot water to have a better and lesser painful menstrual cycle.
- Don’t use fragrant soap or deodorant around the vaginal area as it can cause irritation and affect the pH level.
- Healthy eating can improve menstrual health.
- Do consult someone trustworthy and a doctor in case you feel something abnormal or weird about your genitals.
We do hope that this article about feminine hygiene products brought you clarity with some basics of menstrual hygiene and the products used for it. We also included some tips for you to understand what to do and what not to do.
Stay safe and have a happy and healthy vagina!