A Definitive Guide To Tampon Alternatives

Say goodbye to toxic period care.

Three satsumas that resemble vaginas.
Image: Charles Deluvio via Unsplash

‘Cause ICYMI, non-organic tampons can be hella toxic for your system, not to mention the impact that these single-use products are having on the environment (and your purse—did you know that the average woman can spend up to $23,000 AUD in her lifetime on her periods? Yikes!)

Well luckily, there are some great options for women who are no longer into conventional period care. These options flawlessly combine innovation, practicality and—you guessed it—sustainability.

Here are 4 period-proof alternatives to tampons:

Menstrual cups

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll likely have heard the hype around period cups. Designed to reuse, reuse and reuse, cups are built to last for 2-3 years and sit in the vaginal canal to create a vacuum seal that catches the menstrual blood, as opposed to tampons which absorb the blood.

This is my menstrual cup. It catches the lining of my uterus so i don’t have to use tampons or cups, saving me $120 a year and $5,280 over the course of my menstrual years. HELLO, THAT’S A EURO TRIP ✈💵 . My cup is made of medical-grade silicone and is reusable, stopping me from contributing 9,600 feminine hygiene products to our planet earth. 9,600 products is the average # a mensing woman contributes into the earth in her lifetime. (when you dispose of these items in the trash, it doesn’t just disappear. It goes SOMEWHERE)🌍 . My cup has helped me get more comfortable with my body, a gift I could have never imagined would be so life changing 😚 I’m more confident and feel safer in my womanhood. Because of the cup, I really get to know my body by way of my most intimate part: my flow 🚺 . My cup is convenient. During my period, the cup is always inside me, so I never forget or run out of tampons. In fact, I like to insert it the day before I’m expecting my period to start so I don’t deal with unexpected leakage when I begin to bleed.💆🏼‍♀️ . It took me 4 months (or 4 cycles) to get used to the insertion, flow, and emptying process of my cup. But once you get used to it, it’s so worth it. To say I’m in love with my cup is not a far stretch. ❤ #leefromamerica

A post shared by Lee Tilghman (@leefromamerica) on Jun 26, 2018 at 5:04pm PDT

The majority are made from non-toxic, medical-grade silicon, which means no latex, weird dyes, BPA or bleached rayon (yup, BLEACHED), making them a much safer alternative to tampons.

A cup is convenient as hell (because, obviously, it’s already inside you) meaning that getting caught short without a tampon or pad will become a thing of the past. You simply have to change it every 12 hours or so depending on your flow, which will make a welcome change from stressing over having your tampon in for a second more than 8 hours. Toxic Shock Syndrome, no thanks.

If you’re wondering where to start, this quiz helps you work out which cup is best for you based on questions about your cycle and flow, and FYI, this cup claims that you can use it while gettin’ busy, so there’s that.

Menstrual discs

Similar in nature to a menstrual cup, discs sit in the vaginal fornix, which is at the base of the cervix and the widest part of the vaginal canal (as opposed to cups which sit in the vaginal canal.)

Menstrual discs stay in place by using your vaginal muscle walls and your natural anatomy. It’s essentially propped up behind your pubic bone which keeps the disc nice and snug. They tend to be made from a medical-grade polymer that is used in many medical devices and surgical tools.

The downside is that they’re disposable, not reusable, but they’re a super popular choice among women who want to have sex whilst menstruating.


Period-proof underwear are basically the granny pants that you always reach for when you’re on your period, with a built-in pad that can hold up to two tampon’s worth of blood. These comfy-as-anything- knick knacks are moisture-wicking, anti-microbial, leak-resistant, odour-fighting and they can be worn with or without a tampon or cup.

Image: www.shethinx.com

For a full review, check out that time I test-drove a pair of period-proof undies.

Sea sponges

Yup, slightly less conventional sounding but hear us out.

Sea sponges come from, well, the sea. Which sounds weird as hell, and they do have to be rigorously cleaned prior to use, but they do have significant benefits. They’re completely natural, and one sponge is said to last around six months.

Inarguably, they take some getting used to. But once you’re accustomed to inserting, retrieving (both of which can be done with the assistance of unwaxed dental floss threaded through their centres and knotted tightly) and washing, it simply becomes part of your usual period routine.

Whether it’s a cup, a disc, a sponge or a pair of good, old-fashioned pants, it looks like the jig is up for conventional pads and tampons.

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