Let’s be honest – periods are no woman’s favourite time of the month.
Despite an estimated 800 million women around the world having a period every day, the options to make them slightly more bearable are limited to a generous dose of paracetemol and all of the chocolate in the cupboard. And in this day and age, pads and tampons still seem like fairly rudimentary methods of dealing with them.
However, there are innovators in the world who are trying to make periods easier to manage – it’s probably that you’ve just never heard of them.
From a pair of pants that negates the need for sanitary products to a tampon you can share with your friend (yep, really!), here are some of the weirdest period products we’ve ever come across – now it’s just for you to decide whether you’d actually want to use them!
Toni the Tampon colouring book
Artist and menstrual health educator Cass Clemmer wanted to de-stigmatise periods, so she started an Instagram account dedicated to following the adventures of Toni the Tampon. Since Toni’s huge success online, Cass has created a trendy, fun AND educational colouring book.
In the 20-page colouring book, The Adventures of Toni the Tampon, Toni takes a trip to outer space. Which is not only adorable, but fantastic for teaching pre-teens about their bodies.
My.flow bluetooth tampon
We’ve all experienced the panic of remembering you haven’t changed your tampon in several hours, and you’re wearing a white dress, and ‘have I given myself toxic shock syndrome?!’.
Introducing my.flow, a Bluetooth device that tells the wearer when exactly they need to change their tampon. Made with an extra long string that comes out of your underwear and connects to a Bluetooth device worn somewhere on your body (pocket, clipped on to your trousers etc), the Bluetooth sensor then sends data to an app on your smartphone telling you how saturated the tampon has become and when you need to dash to the toilet.
You can even set your own percentage warning for those days when you just don’t trust your body not to go into complete meltdown all over your friends’ new white sofa…
Despite sounding promising, we’re not sure it’s worth deviating from the tried and tested approach of, well, guessing!
Livia pain relief system
One of the worst parts of living with periods is having to go about your day pretending you’re not experiencing cripplingly painful cramps. You can use a heatpad or hot water bottle, sure, but neither are particularly discreet or portable solutions to the problem.
Introducing Livia, a new product which claims to be ‘the off switch for period pain’. The drug-free, long-lasting device, which can be worn as you go about your day, is based on the ‘Gate Control Theory’. ‘Livia is transmitting a pulse that is keeping the nerves “busy”‘, the Indiegogo page for the product explains. ‘Busy nerves means that the nerve-gate is closed, therefore pain signals cannot pass through and are unfelt.’
Kind of weird, but kind of brilliant? We think so – but you’ll have to wait til October 2016 to get your hands on one. In the meantime, it’s back to the ibuprofen…
Tampon for period sex
Image: The Flex Company
The subject of having sex during your period is one that splits people, but things could become a lot easier thanks to a new product.
Called Flex, this new invention is a disc-shaped device that temporarily blocks menstrual blood by creating a soft barrier to the cervix. Just like any other tampon it’s disposable, so no washing necessary after usage (thankfully), and it can be worn for up to 12 hours.
The company, who say their aim is to make women feel more comfortable during their periods, also guarantee their product is hypoallergenic, BPA-free and won’t cause toxic shock syndrome.
Although they’ll only start accepting pre-orders this month, they’ve been giving out free samples and reviewers seem to love it – from men who are thankful for more sex, to women who say they can get ‘swept up’ by the mood of any occasion without having to worry about the situation down there.
Image: Jade and Pearl
Menstrual sponges are a natural and environmentally-friendly alternative to your usual sanitary products. Made from biodegradable sea sponge, they’re reusable for three-six months, and, according to those who have trialled them, easy and fuss-free to put in. You simply soak them in water and insert like a normal tampon, with many women reporting similar levels of protection. Some even say that sea sponges make their cycle lighter and more manageable.
So why aren’t we all using them, you may ask? Well, the difficulty seems to lie in getting them out again. One user, who reviewed menstural sponges for Mashable, explains, ‘Imagine letting a sponge become fully absorbed with warm water. No matter how gingerly you pick up that sponge, that thing will leak. Now replace the water with blood and you have a mental picture.’ Yep.
You’ll also need to clean your sponge after use until it comes to the end of its life cycle. If you can handle the mess, sponges might be a viable alternative, but if not, it’s back to the tampon box…
Moss, and sticks wrapped in lint?!
We don’t wish to alarm you, but all of these are legitimately things women used to deal with their periods in the past! YouTube star LolPervz created a video which details 5,000 years of period protection, and it’ll make you very thankful for the pads and tampons of today.
According to the four-minute film, women in Ancient Greece would wrap sticks with lint to manage their blood loss (a tool that apparently doubled as, we’d imagine rather unsuccessful, contraception), while medieval women filled rags with a particular type of absorbant moss. Egyptians used paper, while women in the Dark Ages bled freely – and in the 19th century, menstrual pads were finally invented, but could only be worn with an attractive set of suspenders…
See 5,000 years of period product history in full
We all know how annoying menstrual cramps can be, but would you consider inserting cannabis-filled suppositories into your vagina to get rid of them?
Yes, you heard right! That’s exactly what some women in America have been doing, in a bid to stop their period pain.
The product, called Foria Relief, is basically like a tampon and promises to ‘relax muscles and release tension and cramping in the body’, according to their site, for £30 ($44) a box.
Of course the cannabis product is only available in American states where marijuana is legal, and given that the substance is illegal in the UK, don’t expect to see it in your local Boots anytime soon.
The Fredrick App
Let’s just start by saying that we are not a fan of this product at all.
This iPhone app is designed for men who supposedly live a life full of ‘grief’ from their menstruating girlfriend or wife.
It claims to be able to help the man in your life navigate your hormonal emotions and decide whether or not to bother interacting with you that day. Charming.
The process is simple – he types in when you start your period and the app can roughly work out your cycle. It even has a ‘mood tracker’ and gives men a percentage likelihood of getting ‘grief’.
The app, which is available in the App Store, reminds men who are considering a purchase; ‘Mate, you’ll thank us. Really.’
The Looncup is a Kickstarter-funded invention which is similar to a Mooncup, but comes with a related app that can tell you everything from the dates of your cycle to, erm, current fluid volume (sorry). It analyses your period stats each month, therefore becoming smarter and more intuitive each time you use it, and the makers say it’s reusable, comfortable to wear and can last for up to 12+ hours each time you use it.
Their fundraising campaign to create the product had over 1,000 supporters, so even if you don’t like the sound of one, it seems like there’s plenty of women who do…
The Friends Forever tampon
This period product isn’t for the fainthearted – it’s two tampons, connected by one string, designed to be worn by friends whose cycles are in sync. The aim of the product is, supposedly, to reduce the stigma surrounding menstruation, and ‘let friendship flow’.
But what if your period isn’t synced up with your best friends, we hear you cry?
‘Then you’re probably not actually best friends,’ says the creator of the Forever Friends franchise, Kat Thek. ‘Maybe take a road trip and try again next month.’
Read more about the Friends Forever tampon
Thinx period pants
They might look like your normal underwear, but Thinx are actually a pretty special pair of pants, designed to back up or even replace your usual sanitary products. There are three designs – the thong (which can hold approximately half a tampon’s worth), the ‘cheeky’ (which can hold one tampon’s worth) and the ‘hiphugger’ (which can hold up to two tampons worth) – and the secret is four ultra-thin micro-layers which work together to absorb the blood.
You can wash your Thinx and use them again each month, making them an economical option long-term – however, they’re made by an American company, and just one pair can cost between $24 (£15) to $34 (£22) plus delivery, so your first usage would be pretty darn pricey!
Would you be tempted to try any of these products, or will you be sticking to tampons and sanitary towels? Let us know in the comments below!