7 unusual alternatives for girls who hate tampons

30 October 2018, 19:19

Tampons/Menstrual cup
There are some surprising alternatives to tampons out there. Picture: Getty
Jazmin Duribe

By Jazmin Duribe

Let's talk menstruation.

Periods/Shark Week/The Crimson Wave/Aunt Flo, or whatever you like to call it, isn't a taboo subject anymore and we need to get discussing.

On average, us girls have 13 periods a year with a 28-day cycle, and a woman uses around 22 tampons. That's 22 tampons per month – that's 286 tampons a year. That's whopping £1,412.84 in a lifetime. And that's not even taking into account the painkillers, days off and chocolate we sometimes need. Yep, we're seriously splashing the cash on these things and we NEVER even ask for it. Rude, really.

7 Weird Facts You Never Knew About Your Period

Although tampons are the most common period product, with around 70% of women using them, some of us can't and won't use the things. But surprisingly, there are a number of other alternatives out there beyond your standard sanitary towel – and some of the options are a littler weirder than others.

If you're looking for a change, here are seven strange alternatives to tampons that you might want to try.

Menstrual cup

INTIMINA menstrual cup
The menstrual cup is growing in popularity. Picture: INTIMINA

There's a lot of buzz around these things, which claim to be eco-friendly and save you some £££. Offering up to 12 hours coverage of leak-free protection, these reusable babies seem like a steal at just £22.00.

Simply insert like a tampon and the cup will spring open inside. Instead of absorbing the flow, the device collects it, ready for you to dispose of when you pull it out. Now it can be a little tricky to position but there are lots of step-by-step guides on YouTube.

INTIMINA's menstrual cup is made of medical grade silicon and can last up to 10 years. You just wash it with soap and water, and replace. At the end of your cycle, you can sterilise your cup in boiling water. No awks tucking your tampon up your sleeve moments at school or work either.

Sea sponges

Sea Sponges.
Sea sponges are a cheap alternative to tampons. Picture: Getty

Remember Spongebob Squarepants? Well, this is Spongebob.

Sea sponges – which are available on Amazon – aren't as terrifying as they look, we promise. This sponge comes from the sea (obviously) and is super absorbent. They're cut into the right shape and go soft when moistened – oh, and they're dead too.

You can use it, take it out, clean it and pop it right back in. However, they do need a rinse every three hours which could be majorly awkward if you're not at home. They last between six and twelve months and are super cheap to buy. And many people find them more comfortable to put in than a tampon or menstrual cup.

However, some doctors aren't too keen on sea sponges. They could contain potentially harmful bacteria, grit and dirt which you would be putting straight into your vagina. The rough texture could also cause cuts and it could break off up there. Not cute.

Period underwear

So, the idea of just letting nature do it's thang in your knickers can be a weird concept for some, but there are brands out there if you're brave enough.

Thinx makes period-friendly undies with four layers of protection to prevent leakage. However, unless you have a light flow, you might need another period product as back up. To reuse them, just rinse immediately after use and then wash in the machine (separate from your other laundry). And then simply hang to dry and wear again.

Stacked sterile gauze

A hand in a blue medical glove is holding a white gauze
A hand in a blue medical glove is holding a white gauze. Picture: Getty

Now you probably have this in the back of your medicine cabinet for the odd graze, but it could come in handy for periods too. Cheap, cheerful and hygienic, these would work just like a sanitary pad would.

However, you won't be able to use the gauze again and don't expect it to last more than a few hours.

Reusable pads

Now, you can save money and the environment. There are a number of brands offering reusable pads, which can be washed like clothing. Like a traditional pad, you just slip them in your underwear but instead of throwing it into the never-ending waste pile, just wash and they're ready for your next period. And, if you're feeling extra creative, you can knit them yourself. Cute!

Menstrual disc

Unlike tampons and reusable menstrual cups, the disc is designed to sit at the base of the cervix and not in the vaginal canal. Much like a cup it catches the blood rather than absorbs it, can last for 12 hours and is made of silicon. Caring for it is pretty much the same too and it can be worn during sex. 

Free bleed


This one isn't for the faint-hearted. Some people prefer not to have any menstrual product and feel more comfortable bleeding onto their clothing. While the concept may seem alien for some, it's obviously free and 100% natural. There's even a whole movement dedicated to it.

The Free Bleeding Movement kicked off in the 1970s as a reaction to toxic shock syndrome, a fatal condition that can be caused when bacteria grow in tampons. The movement had a revival back in 2014 and women campaigned for their right to menstruate openly and without shame.

However, some are still too grossed out and embarrassed to join the revolution. Leakage problems can be a major issue and depending on your flow, it's inevitable.

Have we missed one? Tweet us @popbuzz and let us know!