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The cost of menstrual products might seem negligible. What’s one more 25-cent tampon, anyway?

But according to market research, feminine hygiene products represent a $23 billion global industry, with the expectation to grow — a figure that hardly qualifies as throwaway income.

Additionally, the consulting firm Frost & Sullivan released data indicating that people with a uterus are 75 percent more likely to use digital tools for healthcare than those without. Not only that, but working-age females spend 29% more per capita on healthcare compared to men.

In short, the business of fertility and menstruation is big. And the market is responding by developing products that are about convenience, comfort, and control.

Are you ready to think beyond the sanitary pad? Read up on these eight innovations created to track and deal with periods in new ways.

To select the best next-gen menstruation products on the market, we considered the following factors:

  • Budget: There’s a wide range in pricing in these next-gen menstruation products. We’ve included something for most budgets.
  • Product type: Whether you’re looking for a high-tech health monitor or environmentally friendly period products, we’ve covered the bases, allowing you to choose an option that suits your needs.
  • Reviews: Companies always stand behind their products, so it’s important to see how real users feel. We’ve read countless reviews and found the products that people love.
  • Reputation: We chose brands that prioritize high-quality materials and a commitment to customer service.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = $10-$100
  • $$$ = over $100

Best menstrual pad

NannoPad by Nannocare

  • Who might love it: anyone that wants a pad with benefits
  • Price: $

This pad is made to multitask. In addition to handling heavy flows, NannoPad contains microsized “nanoparticles” that are said to help with circulation and ultimately lead to less discomfort — say goodbye, cramps! The trademarked Nannogenic technology also claims to purify the pad to reduce odor and bacteria. What’s more, it’s made with 100% organic cotton and gets rave reviews for its breathability.

Pros

  • improves period symptoms
  • made of USDA standard 100% organic cotton
  • ultra-absorbent layers in a thin, breathable pad
  • FDA-certified manufacturer

Cons

  • users report that the package is difficult to open
  • comes in plastic wrappers
  • technology isn’t available in tampons

Best for pain relief

Livia

  • Who might love it: those who consider ibuprofen their best friend
  • Price: $$$

Pain-relieving pills go hand in hand with periods. This gadget by Livia is out to change all that. It’s said to work by sending pulses to your brain that trigger it to not sense discomfort. Just attach two stickers to your skin, roughly around the area you feel pain, and clip the connected pulser to your pants. You can adjust the pulse rhythm to increase or decrease in intensity, depending on how ick you’re feeling. You can find one here.

Pros

  • relieves pain within 30 seconds
  • one charge should last all day
  • discreet and easy to wear

Cons

  • expensive in comparison to pain-relieving medications
  • may not work for everyone
  • its research was performed on few participants

Best for tampon users

Dame Tampon Applicator

  • Who might love it: anyone who hates waste
  • Price: $$

Dame is touted as the first reusable tampon applicator. If you’re on the fence about the reusability aspect, consider this: It uses self-cleaning technology and medical-grade materials. Additionally, each applicator comes with its own storage tin, travel pouch, and six Dame-brand organic tampons.

On the website, this applicator currently has a 4.7-star rating from more than 150 shoppers. The brand claims that it can be used up to 3,000 times and fits all size tampons, ranging from lite to super plus.

Best of all, it works like any other tampon applicator — after loading the tampon inside, you insert it using the product, and then rinse or wipe it clean.

This product ships from the United Kingdom and the company also offers reusable pads and period pants. They also offer a 60-day refund policy if you’re unhappy with the product for any reason.

Pros

  • uses self-sanitizing technology
  • easy to use
  • reduces plastic waste

Cons

  • costs more than disposable tampons
  • requires cleaning after use
  • will have to purchase tampons that don’t have applicators to use this product

Best for health tracking

IvybyBellabeat

  • Who might love it: the ovulation-curious and fashion-conscious
  • Price: $$$

This accessory by Bellabeat is made specifically so people can get to know their inner self — stress levels, reproductive cycle, and all.

Worn as a bracelet, this pretty, natural stone effect jewelry monitors heart and breathing rate, activity, sleep, and more. The smart technology syncs wirelessly to an app where you can get various stats — including when you’re ovulating — as well as reminders, like when to take your birth control pill.

Pros

  • tracks multiple health metrics
  • attractive design
  • suggest tailored self-care improvements

Cons

  • expensive
  • no data display
  • customers found it to be fragile and easily undone

Best for the environment

GladRags

  • Who might love it: Earth-lovers everywhere
  • Price: $

Sign up for the GladRags club and get a new sanitary napkin delivered monthly. It’s a great way to build your collection, or you can choose from a huge range of pads and pantyliners from their online shop. You can also buy selection packs of assorted pads and menstrual cups.

GladRags are handmade in Portland, Oregon from cute, all-natural fabrics. And that’s just one of the perks. Because you can reuse them after washing, you’ll be saving money versus buying disposables. Plus, you’re not sending anything to the landfill. You can find a box here.

Pros

  • saves money
  • environmentally friendly option
  • large range of pads to choose from

Cons

  • high initial cost
  • less convenient than disposable pads
  • require washing and drying

Best for social impact

Cora

  • Who might love it: anyone that believes there has to be a better way to manage feminine hygiene
  • Price: $$

If you tend to gravitate toward brands with a philanthropic edge, then Cora is for you. Sure, every 3 months you’ll receive beautifully packaged boxes containing everything from tampons and pads to body cloths that you can use to refresh yourself. But the best part is that for every month you purchase, Cora donates a month’s worth of menstrual products to a person in need. You can start a free trial to gauge how it works for you.

Pros

  • donates menstrual products to people in need
  • large range of products
  • organic materials

Cons

  • shipping costs vary
  • slightly more expensive than other pads or tampons

NannoPad by NannocareLiviaDame Tampon ApplicatorIvy by BellabeatGladRagsCora
Price$$$$$$$$$$$$
Why it’s differenthigh-tech pads that reduce crampingwearable pain reliefreusable applicatora fitness tracker that provides helpful insight like your ovulation window washable padsdonates menstrual products
Highlightsexclusive infra-red nanoparticlesworks all day on one chargesaves plastictracks multiple health metricssubscription servicesorganic materials
Type of productpadswearable pain-relief gadgettamponswearable health trackerpadsrange of menstrual products

There are a few things to consider when choosing a menstrual product:

  • Flow: If you have a heavy flow, you’ll need a product that can absorb a lot of fluid, like a menstrual cup, pad, or tampon. Before purchasing, make sure that the product you choose is the best fit for your flow.
  • Activity level: Depending on how active you are during your period, pick an item that aligns with your day-to-day. For instance, if you don’t have frequent access to a space where you can wash something out after use, the Dame Tampon Applicator may not be the best option.
  • Budget: Menstrual cups and cloth pads can be more expensive up front, but they can save you money in the long run. Tampons and disposable pads are more affordable, but you have to buy them each month. Make sure that whatever option you choose fits your budget, especially if you have to repeatedly buy supplies.
  • Environment: If you’re concerned about the impact of menstrual products on the environment, some options are certainly more environmentally friendly than others.
  • Physical ability: Some people find using tampons and cups difficult to insert, making pads a better choice.

If you have any concerns about your period, it’s best to see a doctor. Some things that warrant a trip to the doctor include:

  • periods that last longer than 7 days
  • heavy bleeding that soaks through a pad or tampon every hour for 3 hours in a row
  • bleeding between periods
  • pain during periods
  • periods that are very irregular
  • missed periods
  • bleeding after menopause

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor. They can help you figure out what’s going on and offer treatment options if necessary.

Are reusable menstrual products safe?

There’s no research that suggests reusable menstrual products are less safe than traditional products.

Although reusable pads are generally safe, you must still wash and dry them thoroughly to keep them clean and free of bacteria. Additionally, reusable applicators should always be washed before and after insertion.

Regardless of which period product you use, remember to also wash your hands before and after using or changing them, too.

Is the cost of menstrual products covered by insurance?

Yes. Changes to legislation in 2019 known as the CARES Act reclassified menstrual products as medical care spending. The changes mean that tampons, pads, pantyliners, and menstrual cups are eligible within flexible spending accounts (FSA), health savings accounts (HSA), and health reimbursement arrangements (HRA).

Can you get menstrual products for free?

Yes. There are ways to get menstrual products for free. According to Free the Tampons, five states have passed legislation requiring schools to provide free menstrual products. The states are California, New York, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Virginia.

There are also organizations that work to provide free or low-cost menstrual products to those in need, including:

  • The Red Box Project: This organization places red boxes filled with free tampons and pads in schools and colleges across the United States.
  • Period: This organization provides free period products to people in need through a network of partner organizations.

There are many different types of menstrual products available on the market today, from pads that ease cramps to reusable tampon applicators.

Deciding which product is right for you and your lifestyle can be overwhelming, but you can make that choice easier by considering your needs and experimenting with different products. This can help you find the perfect solution for your menstrual challenges.

If you have any concerns about your period, don’t hesitate to see a doctor. They can help you figure out what’s happening and offer treatment options if necessary.


Kelly Aiglon is a lifestyle journalist and brand strategist with a special focus on health, beauty, and wellness. When she’s not crafting a story, she can usually be found at the dance studio teaching Les Mills BODYJAM or SH’BAM. She and her family live outside of Chicago and you can find her on Instagram.