How can menstrual pillows affect the environment?

What is a sanitary napkin?

A sanitary napkin is a feminine hygiene product that is used to capture menstrual blood flow. It is usually attached to a woman's underwear under the vulva and touches her body so it can be positioned to catch the flow of blood during menstruation. Disposable sanitary napkins are a very popular feminine hygiene product in industrialized countries. Alternatively, however, reusable fabric sanitary napkins can also be used.

When people use the term "sanitary napkin" they are usually referring to a type of disposable sanitary napkin that is used once to absorb menstrual flow and then thrown away. These types of sanitary napkins are commercially available and come in a variety of designs. Usually, sanitary napkins are marketed by thickness and absorbency, although length and added fragrance can also be factors that influence purchasing decisions.

When shopping for sanitary towels, women can choose between ultra-thin, normal and "maxi" towels, which are particularly absorbent. Regular pads are those designed to absorb an average menstrual flow, and maxi or superabsorbent pads are better suited for heavier flows. Ultra-thin pads can also have normal to high absorbency potential. However, as the name suggests, the pads are thinner and more comfortable for the wearer. Additionally, panty liners can be marketed as a type of sanitary napkin that can be used to absorb accidental, excessive flow when the wearer is using a tampon, and overnight pads can be longer to capture flow in the supine position.

While disposable sanitary napkins are inexpensive and convenient, their use can be environmentally detrimental and become expensive over time. Women who fail to properly dispose of their sanitary napkins, either by not placing them in the correct container or by not rinsing them, run the risk of their sanitary napkins ending up in oceans or other unsuitable locations. In addition, some chemicals used to make sanitary napkins are not biodegradable and can be harmful to the environment. Flushing a sanitary napkin can also create installation problems in a home or building.

A cloth pad can be a useful alternative to a disposable pad for women who want to save money and have less impact on the environment. Cloth menstrual pillows have been used for a longer time than disposable sanitary napkins. Although they have lost popularity since the advent of disposable sanitary napkins, they remain an affordable and reusable option for feminine hygiene products. They are made of hemp, cotton flannel or highly absorbent materials and can be attached to underwear with buttons, ties or another fastener. Women who find disposable sanitary napkins uncomfortable or allergic can choose fabric sanitary napkins as their preferred menstrual product.