I have to start this off with a warning. I’m about to talk about menstruation. I’m going to be very open and honest. If you have a problem with that then you probably should not read on.
It has been about eight months since I switched to using cloth menstrual pads. I made the decision based on the way my skin was reacting to disposable pads. I was experiencing unusually long periods due to a hormone imbalance which meant that I was exposed to disposable pads for longer than the usual amount of time. I come from a family of escema sufferers and sensitive skin is just a given for us. A lot of products can give my mother, my sister, and myself, a rash. I am the luckiest of the bunch with the least sensitive skin but after sometimes weeks of using chemically treated disposable pads my skin was not happy.
I had been researching reusable menstrual products for a few years because I knew that my sister was having a similar problem and switched to a menstrual cup (similar to the commonly known Diva Cup). I have never been a fan of using internal menstrual products such as tampons, my personal preference is external protection, so a cup was not a good option for me. Coincidentally around the time I was starting to seriously consider swapping to a less irritating product, i had began teaching myself how to sew. My grandmother had passed away a few months prior and I was sewing as a way to feel connected to her. She bought me a sewing machine for my eighteenth birthday which had barely been used since, although it’s getting plenty of use now.
It only took a couple of YouTube videos before I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to make my own cloth pads. The first one I made was constructed from an old T-shirt and a face washing towel cut and layered to fit. I had sewed it by hand which made it less structurally sound than is ideal but it did the job. I was inspired to make more.
I’ve now made over a hundred cloth pads in various styles and different fabrics. I’ve become much better at sewing and now know my sewing machine like the back of my hand. My sister and a family friend have received sets of the pads from me but I don’t think I will sell them to the public.
I now use cloth pads exclusively. My cycle is much more comfortable and I don’t break out in a rash from the chemicals in disposable products anymore. I find myself excited to get my period for the first time in my life. I love the patterns and how comfortable the cloth is. Yet I still hesitate to tell people that I make pads and it’s even more intimidating to let people know I actually use them. I expect that people will think they’re “disgusting” or “unhygienic”. My husband is surprisingly supportive of my choice. My family know about my project and I’m now known as the “green” one for wanting to avoid chemicals and reduce my waste production. The few friends I’ve talked to about it have been accepting of my choice to my surprise. I’m sure I will get mixed reactions when this goes up however.
The thing I have noticed the most is that people are more comfortable talking about menstruation than you would first expect. Using cloth pads has made me much more comfortable with my body and my period. In the end it is a normal occurrence, yet I spent so many years ashamed and confused. I was uncomfortable with my own bodily functions. I am so grateful that cloth pads have changed my life and my outlook. If anyone is reading this because they’re considering the switch. I would definitely recommend trying it. If you’re reading this and you’re finding yourself repulsed… that’s your viewpoint and I respect that.