Warning: May be TMI for some men.
A number of years ago I started exploring alternative methods of taking care of my menstrual needs. My motive at the time was frugality, but non-disposable products are also very useful to have on hand for situations when disposables aren't available.
My first purchase was a Keeper. http://www.keeper.com The Keeper is a latex cup worn internally in place of using tampons. There is also a silicone version called the Moon Cup, but I have not yet tried that one. The Keeper comes in two sizes: 'A' for after vaginal childbirth and 'B' for before childbirth or having only had children via C-section. It was a little awkward to use at first and felt a bit strange, but by the end of the second month using it I was confident enough to empty and replace it even when out and about and using public restrooms. For my comfort I found it necessary to trim the stem until it was about a centimeter long. I now find it every bit as comfortable to wear as a disposable tampon. When I need to empty it in a public restroom, I take a wet paper towel with me to wipe my fingers on. Sometimes I put a wet paper towel in a baggie in my purse before I leave home so I can be more discreet in public. Care and use directions, complete with simple line drawings, are on their website. There are several other similar products available, but I've been so pleased with the Keeper that I haven't tried them.
My next non-disposable feminine purchase was cloth pads. I ordered a few each from two different companies. I do not like 'wings' so both styles were wingless. One style was backed by a leak resistant material that was smooth. I found them to be very slippery and apt to slide out of place. It was suggested to use a small safety pin to keep them in place. When I tried that I ended up with holes in my underwear. I ended up throwing them away and 'losing' the web site. This was a number of years ago so I can't give a product name, just a caution to keep your first order of non-disposable pads very small so you can see if they work for you.
The other style I ordered has proven to be perfect for me. They are New Moon Pads. http://www.newmoonpads.com In my opinion, the best feature of these pads is the comfort level. Disposables rub and irritate my skin. These are soft and gentle on my skin. The backing on these is fleecy and friction keeps them in place beautifully. I've never had a real problem with them. I've leaked over the side a couple times, but have never leaked through them. The few times I did leak over the side, it was always a situation that would have been worse if I had been wearing disposables. I would estimate that I leak over the side about ten times more often with disposables. These pads come in a number of different sizes. I have one XL (overnight/postpartum), four L (called Full Moon) and ten M (called New Moon). That quantity is enough to get me through my cycle with only one washing in the middle. I've chatted with some ladies who soak their pads after wearing until they can wash them. I prefer the dry pail method. Simply drop them in a plastic container (used ice cream pail is great) and let them sit for a day or two until you can wash them. I run them through a quick rinse in cold water by themselves then add enough regular laundry to fill the washer and run a load with warm water. I've not had a problem with odor and only slight staining which doesn't bother me since no one else gets to look at them.
I've used both the Keeper and the New Moon pads for five or six years now. I do occasionally use disposables for convenience (usually when out of town for more than one night) but overall prefer the comfort, and monetary savings of using non-disposables. I do plan on purchasing a few more New Moon Pads so I don't have to worry about getting them dry in time to use again should I be without my electric dryer, and also ordering a silicone version of the Keeper as a backup, but those are the only changes I have planned.
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