Let's be honest, periods are no woman's favourite time of the month - but there are a number of products on the market designed to de-stigmatise and help make them easier.
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 paracetamol 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 then worrying “have I given myself toxic shock syndrome?!”
Enter, my.flow – a Bluetooth device which 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.
The product is the brainchild of Amanda Brief and Jacob McEntire, but the team are still trying to crowdfund to bring it to market.
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 heat patch or hot water bottle, sure, but neither are particularly discreet or portable solutions to the problem.
Livia is a 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 – which prevents pain sensation from traveling to the central nervous system.
The product transmits a pulse that keeps the nerves “busy” – therefore blocking cramps and pain.
Kind of weird, but kind of brilliant?
Tampon for period sex
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.
Flex 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.
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 menstrual 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…
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 $ 72.00 (around £55) 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.
Thix 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.
The Frederick 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.’