Products to Buy in Singapore for Your Period (including Sustainable Options)

Sustainable Period Products

Walking down the aisles of the feminine hygiene products in Watsons and Guardian, the shelves are mostly filled with sanitary pads. However, there are other period products you could buy. Relatively new to the market, we have sustainable and reusable period products like cloth pads, like menstrual cups, period underwear to replace disposable pads and tampons. These period products will help you save money and the environment!

While it may be considered taboo to talk about periods, it’s a topic we shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about. As women, there comes the “time of the month”. For as long as I could remember, I‘ve always used sanitary pads. it all started when my mum gave me “the talk” and showed me the sanitary pads she bought for herself.

Sticking to what I knew was working for my mum, when I went to buy pads, I would always reach for the same brand without thinking twice. However, as I was exposed to platforms like Youtube where other women shared their “period stories’ I realised that there was more than just pads for us to use. 

While it is not as common in Singapore, there are several other menstrual products. These alternatives also include sustainable options to reduce the amount of waste produced by their disposable counterparts. But let’s take a look at all our options.

From stained underwear, having to buy pain relief medicine for the cramps it made me wonder how much we’re spending on our periods. According to Dollars and Sense, the average amount we spend on pads is about $144 in a year. Include the other products that you checkout (new bedsheets, underwear, chocolate, heating pads, etc..) and the total financial expenditure on period products a woman pays in her lifespan is at least $17,000. Switching to reusable products like menstrual cups and cloth pads might just help you save your money and reduce the waste produced.

Pads

Whisper pads available on Watsons.

Sanitary pads are probably a staple for most Singaporean women. As our beauty stores and supermarkets are more populated with pads than tampons, it is more common for us to use them. Not to mention, whenever someone in the bathroom gets a surprise from their monthly friend, pads are our best friends.

Pros:

  • Available at pharmacies and supermarkets
  • You can wear them overnight

Cons:

  • Contain plastics  chemicals which may not be labeled on the packaging
  • Creates a lot of waste

How often to change

You should change your pad when you feel that its filled its capacity or every 3-4 hours. 

Things to take note

The options seem to be endless with pads. Wing or no wing? Heavy or light flow? Day or night usage? And let’s not forget the length of the sanitary pad. Different pads also have different levels of absorbency. You may want to experiment with different brands to find which pads you find the most comfortable.

Cloth pads

Reusable cloth pad available on The Period Co.

Cloth pads are just like normal pads. Except for the fact that they can be washed and reused. They are estimated to last for up to 5 years spending on how each pad is used and washed. These pads cost about $15 which will lessen the load on your wallet.

Pros:

  • Commonly made with cotton which is more comfortable
  • Eco-friendly
  • Most are machine washable (Soak/rinse the used pad in cold water before putting it in the washing machine to remove as much blood as possible)

Cons:

  • You’ll need an extra bag to carry the used pad when you’re out

How often to change

Similar to disposable pads, cloth pads should be changed once every 3-4 hours to prevent leakage and bacteria growth.

Things to take note (size)

These pads also vary in sizes and width. It’s also best to purchase more than 1 pad, along with a pouch.

Tampons

Tampax tampons available on Watsons.

You’ve probably heard of tampons when watching an American teen movie. While it is not as common to use tampons in Singapore, they are still available on shelves in beauty stores. Tampons are another disposable option. When inserted into the vagina, the tampon is able to absorb the blood.

Pros:

  • You won’t be able to feel it if they’re in properly
  • More comfortable to use if you’re working out

Cons:

  • Inserting a tampon may take some getting used to
  • Risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)
  • Best not to wear them overnight

How often to change

Tampons should be changed every 3-5 hours (similar to pads). It is also said that the risk of TSS increases with higher absorbency of the tampon. So to reduce the risk of TSS, you should use a tampon with lower absorbency.

Things to take note

While TSS is a rare disease, it may result in death. TSS is caused by bacteria that can release toxins and damage tissue when they get deeper into the body. Using a tampon for too long (or a super absorbent tampon) can increase your risk of getting TSS.

Menstrual cup

Menstrual cup from OrganiCup

Menstrual cups are one of the most sustainable period products. You don’t have to change them as often as pads or tampons and can last a significantly longer time. While more official looking sites such as Organicup, Divacup and The Period Co, these cups will range from $40-60 per cup. Shopee alternatives cost significantly lesser and are made with medical grade silicone.

Regardless, using a menstrual cup could save you loads in the long run. If you spend an estimated of $10 a month on sanitary pads, you’ll be spending $120 a year on pads as compared to a one-time investment in a $40 cup.

Pros:

  • Eco-friendly
  • Up to 12 hours of wear
  • You can wear them overnight
  • Collects the blood instead of absorb
  • You can still use the toilet without having to remove the cup
  • Lower risk of toxic shock syndrome
  • Rinse with water or wash with a perfume-free and pH-balanced soap

Cons:

  • You’ll have to learn (and practice) insertion and removal of the cup
  • Washing it when you’re in a public toilet may be difficult as not all cubicles have sinks in them
  • While there are different sizes, it may take some trial and error to find the right fit

How often to change

Your cup should be emptied whenever its full or can be worn for up to 12 hours. The cup itself can last for up to 10 years!

Things to take note

Do be sure to sterilise the cup in boiling water before using it for the first time. Wash the cup after every use and leave it to dry.

Check the material that the cup is made of (usually silicone or latex rubber) and that you’re not allergic to it.

When first switching to another feminine hygiene product, you may want to wait for a day when your flow is lighter, in case of leaks. You may also want to use a combination of products when you first make the switch. For example, using a menstrual cup and a pad together, in case the cup was inserted incorrectly or leaks occur.

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Writer: @furdoors

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