Since launching Blushproof period panties in South Africa last year, I often get asked or told, "But surely period panties are for those that cannot afford disposable sanitary products?".
This actually isn't really the case. Although this is a nice idea, there's a couple of problems with this scenario. Firstly, period panties are an investment - spend now and keep using for two to three years. This would make the initial investment unaffordable for those living below the bread line. Secondly, period panties require rinsing and washing after every use. Limited access to running water in rural or poorer communities could mean that the panties are worn repeatedly without being properly washed. This is less than ideal for vaginal health.
I personally feel that reusable cloth pads are a better option for disadvantaged communities. They're made from similar fabrics (Blushproof cloth pads are made from the exact same fabrics as the period panties) but require less water for rinsing and washing. A quick scrub with soap and water and they can then be hung out to dry and used again the next day. It also means the cloth pads can be used by anyone of any shape, size or age as they are simply worn in regular panties and kept in place with "wings" that snap together (just like disposable sanitary pads). There are a number of suppliers entering the South African market that are either selling cloth pads at an affordable price or are donating cloth pads, which is just amazing to see!
So, back to my original question, "Who should use period panties?". Well, the easy decision is for tweens. They're not used to pads and definitely haven't tried tampons, so, for them, it's an easy choice. Either keep a pair of tween period panties in a discreet pouch in your school bag or gym bag for when needed or possibly be caught off guard if you haven't replenished your disposable sanitary napkins. It's also an easy decision since tweens have no preconceived ideas of what products should be used to handle menstruation or aren't stuck in the "Well, I've always used pads and tampons, so why should I change now?" scenario.
The next group that it's easy to decide on are the teenagers. They want to live an active lifestyle filled with school camps, extra murals like running and swimming, going out with friends or having sleepovers. We've all been there and know how tricky it can be to carry on with these "normal" activities when you're constantly worrying about pads moving around or falling out; embarrassing leaks; waking up at your friend's house with a leak on the sheets; telling the gym teacher that you can't swim because you're on your period. The great thing about period panties is that they are extremely handy in all of these situations. They don't move around, they don't leak, in fact, anyone else wouldn't even know you were on your period, even if you're swimming (an interesting fact is that Blushproof Bikini Swimwear period panties can be worn under school swimming costumes so teens can still compete in galas and at waterpolo matches).
From there, it comes down to personal choice. People that are most likely to make the switch are those that care about the planet and all the disposable non-biodegradable products ending up in the landfills. Why buy, buy and buy again (every month) if you can just invest once. If you love running but HATE running with a pad or tampon, then period panties are the answer! You work long shifts and cannot easily get to the bathroom to change your disposable, then period panties are the answer! You're allergic to disposable products or react badly to tampons or pads, then period panties are the answer! You're worried about your vaginal health or about toxins close to your lady bits, then, you guessed it, period panties are the answer. You love hiking or camping or being in the great outdoors but know that disposing of your sanitary pads is a problem, then period panties are the answer. Your culture is against using tampons and you're sick of using pads for the last 15 years, then period panties are, again, the answer.
The list goes on, and on, and on...
Every time I think of a new reason to try period panties, I get so excited by the prospect. Just imagine a world without all those disposables?!? Just as new moms are moving back to cloth diapers, so should the rest of use be moving back to what is essentially a cloth pad (as they used in the good old days) but just so much sexier, more comfortable, more discreet, more everyday lifestyle.
I'd really recommend that you try them for yourself, your teen, your tween... just once. I promise, you won't regret it.