Before using a menstrual cup I was very weirded out by menstrual cups, then when my periods returned after having my third kid I decided to give them a whirl and have since become one of those people who spends their time trying ‘convert’ people to using them. Imagine my joy when Kiera of @mamadesigns came forward to write this list about the fact she has branched out into reusable period products (and why she loves them).


  • I was a late starter, starting my periods at 15. I was the last of my friends and desperate to start them. I was more than ready, my mum had had the chat years earlier and I knew what to expect. I felt embarrassed that I had started late, like I was not yet part of the club! 

  • My memories are hazy re timings but I know that I moved on from pads (they were so bulky 25 years ago!) to tampons in my teens, finding them much more comfortable and discreet and that was with the big cardboard tube.  I remember a pink plastic case to carry Tampax to the toilet in at school.

  • In developing our new reusable sanitary pads I did a lot of research and some of it blew my mind. It occurred to me how many other women didn’t know this stuff? How many people were suffering every month without realising there was an alternative. Also making the switch was so much easier than I thought… Here are some facts you might want to know.

  • In your lifetime, it is estimated that you will use 11,000 menstrual products. If these were lined up alongside each other, they would be the equivalent of 26 Big Bens!!! Now that’s a lot of waste. (Source: Natracare and The Marine Conservation Society).

  • Making the switch to reusable period products is the right thing to do for so many reasons. Yes, its greener and that’s obvious, but you might not have realised the extent of just how bad your disposable products are. I hadn’t.

  • Approximately 700,000 panty liners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million sanitary towels are flushed down the toilet (in the UK alone) EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!! (from figures published in the Journal of the Institution of Environmental Sciences

  • Eight per cent of all waste that enters water treatment works comes from period waste (source Water UK.)

  • What happens when you flush? Tampons and pads can cause plumbing blockages that can lead to sewage backflow, which can result in a health hazard and expensive repairs. Our sewers our overloaded, then heavy rain can mean sewage is discharged into rivers and seas. Plastic harms marine life and pollutes our beaches.

  • Over the course of a decade, Marine Conservation Society litter pickers have collected more than 20,000 tampons, applicators and sanitary pads from UK beaches. (source The Independent) The very same beaches our children play on.

  • One pack of sanitary pads can contain the equivalent quantity of plastic as four carrier bags? No wonder it feels a bit sweaty and uncomfortable having them in your pants! Plus that is at least 4 carrier bags you are sending to landfill every month for 30 years of your life.

  • One pad can take as long as 500 years to fully break down! 500 years!!  That’s 25 generations later and your pads will just about be decomposing!!!   (Source Independent newspaper) That to me is just a horrendous thought.

  • Disposable sanitary pads and tampons contain a whole host of ingredients that aren’t listed … from adhesives to pesticides, chlorine, fragrance, and all sorts of harmful chemicals. Tampon and sanitary pad manufacturers are not even required to list the ingredients on their packaging!

  •  It’s no wonder that some women have discomfort from disposables. Napkin dermatitis or “pad rash” has affected seven out of ten women, who have experienced some form of skin irritation around the intimate area during their period. (Source Straitstimes.com).

  • I have recently heard that in spite of experiencing this derma irritation every single month, some women just accept it, not realising there was an alternative, so making the switch has been life changing for them.

  • So not having those irritants next to your skin or in your body is going to make for a more comfortable period. Whether you choose a cup, reusable pads or period pants, or a combination (as pads are great alongside cups or even as a pantyliner). ALL of these options are going to be kinder and gentler to your body. Periods are crappy enough without being uncomfortable right?

  • My research told me that some women report reduced period pains after switching from disposables to a natural alternative and others report a reduced flow.

  • I have heard of midwives warning pregnant women against disposable pads for use during pregnancy and postnatally due to the ingredients. I have read that the pesticides in pads and tampons are related to delays in conceiving, harm to embryos, and spontaneous miscarriage.

  • I have never really suffered much with my periods and I realise that I am lucky. Don’t get me wrong, I have been super grateful for pregnancies and breastfeeding that stopped them for a year or two but never experienced much pain or discomfort.  Since switching over to reusables, I have found my periods don’t bother me as much.

  • So you are reducing landfill, you aren’t being responsible for pads or tampons being washed up on beaches, you are going to be more comfortable every month and in the long run you are going to save money. “There must be a catch” you are thinking? Right?

  • Wrong, using reusable products is easier than I thought it would be. Rinsing or handwashing before popping into the main wash is as difficult as it gets. For anyone thinking “yuck”, it’s a bit of blood. Your own blood.  Yuck is a landfill mountain of this, a tampon on a beach or a pad on a walk like we saw a few weeks ago that had escaped from a bin bag. Now that is what I call yuck.

  • Reusable products are far more absorbent than disposables, meaning you won’t have to change them as frequently. Our maxi pad, holds 40ml of liquid whereas a disposable maxi pad holds 10ml. A large cup holds three times more liquid than a tampon.  So you are going to spend less of your day focussing on your period. It’s a no brainer.

  • So how much money will it cost you to switch over to reusable sanitary pads? Well a pack of 3 pads costs between £13-£15. 3 packs would be £42. Then you will never buy pads again. In a women’s reproductive life cycle she will spend approximately £5,000 on period products. Kind of puts it in perspective right?

  • “How will it work when I’m out?” Is a question I have been asked a few times about the logistics of reusable pads. Well the good news is the increased absorbency means you won’t have to change as often. They simply popper into your pants with little wings and bingo, you are good to go.  When you do need to change them, our pads fold into themselves like a little envelope and popper shut. The outer layer of the envelope is waterproof, so you can store them like this unused or used. Pop them into a little waterproof bag or a neoprene clutch and you are good to go. Hand wash them or rinse them through when you get home.

  • I believe that reusable period products can help to begin to put an end to period poverty, which is why as a business we are going to support schools to provide free pads to those in need, on a not for profit basis.

  • You know the best thing that happened when I made the switch, it felt great. I felt virtuous. I was doing something good and it was so easy and it was good for me too as well as the planet.

  • My mum was always really open about periods and I have tried to be the same with my children too. My 13 year old son knows all about the Mama Designs reusable sanitary pads, what they are for and I think that is a really good thing. He even asks me how the new pads are doing with no awkwardness and this makes me really happy. My daughter is 10 and we have talked about periods too.

  • I love the fact that I might be able to encourage people to make the switch to a greener period product, and the impact that might have as a collective group. If I can make

  • I think periods are definitely less taboo than they were before and that is such a good thing. Even in terms of people posting about them on Instagram! They happen to us all so we may as well be open and talk about them.

  • If you are thinking of making the switch, give it a try. Start with one pack. You won’t look back I promise!! 

  • Keira is the founder of Mama Designs. https://www.mamadesigns.co.uk/product/reusable-washable-sanitary-pads/

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