Alternative Menstrual Products

Alternative Menstrual Products

Alternative menstrual products are designed to offer you a wider variety of options for your period. These products are chosen for many different reasons, including health, environmental impact, economic considerations, social factors, and comfort. It is completely up to you as to which menstrual products best suit your needs.

Health Considerations

If you find that regular tampons irritate you, or you’d rather not use regular tampons for other health reasons, there are both reusable cloth pads as well as 100% cotton organic pads and tampons that don’t contain rayon or dioxin.

Health concerns regarding tampons sometimes arise from the material used and the manufacturing process. Regular tampons are made with a cotton-rayon blend. Dioxin, a carcinogen, is added when bleaching the rayon. Dioxin levels in regular tampons are just at or below the detectable limit, meaning that exposure is many times less what one gets exposed to regularly in the environment.  There is no proven link between an increased risk of toxic shock syndrome and rayon or dioxin.

It is important to note that the best way to prevent toxic shock syndrome is to use tampons with the minimum absorbency needed to control menstrual flow, and to change your tampon frequently, never leaving one in longer than eight hours.

Environmental Impact

It is estimated that 11-14 billion disposable menstrual products are landfilled in North America each year, excluding their packaging. It also takes more than 500 years for one pad to decompose completely. Also, the process of bleaching the pulp that is used in tampons and pads releases dioxins into the environment. Some people choose to use reusable alternative menstrual products in order to be more environmentally friendly.

Economic Considerations

Many alternative menstrual products are reusable. Though initial costs are higher than disposable menstrual products, some alternative menstrual products such as the Luna Pad and The DivaCup can be used for several years, saving you money in the long run.

Social and Comfort Considerations

Alternative menstrual products are sometimes chosen as a means to combat the stigma surrounding periods. Some find cloth pads more comfortable or feel more in touch with their body and cycle with the DivaCup. Others like the simplicity and convenience of having only one or a few products that they can depend on at any time.

So, what are some of the available alternative menstrual products?

Luna Pads

The Luna Pad is a reusable, washable cloth pad made from organic and fair-trade cotton. It is considered an external protection, since it absorbs the menstrual flow after it leaves the body. The Luna Pad comes in two parts: a liner and a reusable pad.  The Luna Pad and liner both come in different absorbencies and sizes. The liner is inserted into the pocket of the reusable pad then the pad is fastened to the underwear with the Velcro attached to the wings (similar to a non-reusable pad). One is encouraged to change the pad as often as one would change a disposable pad. Reusable pads can last for years, since they can be washed easily in a washing machine.

The Diva Cup

The DivaCup is a top grade silicone menstrual cup that is worn at the back of the vagina to collect, rather than absorb, menstrual flow. Since it is reusable, the DivaCup is also an environmentally friendly and economical alternative. This products contains no latex, rubber, plastic or BPA. The DivaCup comes in two sizes:

For those under 30 and have not given birth (vaginally or c-section)

For those who are over 30 and/or have given birth (vaginally or c-section)

The Soft Cup

The Softcup works similarly as a DivaCup but is intended for single use only. The manufacturer claims that this product could be kept in for any activity, including sexual activity. The SoftCup can usually be found in pharmacies and supermarkets.

Please note that we do not sell this product at The Shag Shop.

Organic Pads & Tampons

Natracare Organic products are chemical-free; non-chlorine bleached and made from only certified organic 100% cotton. They are disposable and used like other pads & tampons.

Did you know that some of these products could be purchased through The Shag Shop at McGill?

You may find the link to the products and order from this webpage.


“Period Products: Information about tampons, pads, and more” The Center for Young Women’s Health, 2014. Retrieved November 4, 2015 from

“Tampons and Asbestos, Dioxin, & Toxic Shock Syndrome” US Food and Drug Administration: Patient Alerts (Medical Devices), 2015.