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I tried free bleeding into cloth period pads. This is what really happened

Let me be honest: I was pretty worried about trying out reusable pads.

Presented in partnership with Lunapads.

I have been wary of reusable pads because they seem unsanitary, inconvenient, or both.

Although I know people who have tried alternative products with great results, I mostly stayed away from reusable pads and menstrual cups.

Partly because I’m stubborn about changing my ways, but mostly? Because I’m lazy. Throwing out – and quickly forgetting about – an old tampon or pad always seemed much easier than going through the trouble of washing a reusable menstrual product.

But I also recognize just how bad disposable pads and tampons can be. For one, women’s bodies suffer: there has recently been more research on the chemicals in traditional, disposable tampons and pads, and the results are alarming, to say the least. Dioxins, chemicals that are known human carcinogens and the byproducts of the bleaching process, are found in tampons and of course, pads and tampons are expensive: a woman will spend about $1,800 throughout her lifetime on period products.

So, I caved in.

I decided to give Performa Pads by Lunapads a try. I’m all for normalizing the period and I wanted to challenge my own preconceptions about washable pads (while also saving some money).

Another disclaimer: I hate pads – have since I was in high school. I usually stick to tampons and light liners, because wearing a pad literally feels like I’m wearing a diaper. Which is a totally uncool feeling when I’m trying to work, go to class, hit the gym, hang out with friends, or literally any other waking activity. So I wasn’t sure what to expect with the Performa Pads.

I chose the Performa Mini and the Performa Maxi: both are super absorbent, and one of these pads is equal to three tampons or three disposable pads. As soon as I took them out of the package, I was skeptical. The pads felt too… normal. 

Here’s how my four-day period week went down in my new pads.

Day 1: Heavy flow means…possible leakage?

The first few days of my period tend to be the heaviest for me. On the first day, I used the Performa Mini, because it’s smaller and more discreet than the Maxi. I decided to go all in and continue about my day as I normally would. I was worried about the pad sliding around or being uncomfortable at the gym, but there were no issues.

I worked out, as usual, doing cardio, abs, and doing several different weight machines, and the pad stayed in place the whole time.  I immediately noticed how soft and unobtrusive they are, even while doing harder physical activities, like exercising.

I wore the pad to work later that evening. I work at a retail store, and my job includes a lot of walking, bending, and general activity. I noticed throughout the day how little I thought about the pad; it wasn’t annoying like a disposable pad. It was comfortable and super absorbent, and I forgot I was even wearing it while rushing around at work.

And, as much as I love to exercise, I also love to sleep, and the Maxi ended up being perfect for nighttime (and taking casual midday naps). In the past, I’ve found that disposable pads move out of place during the night, but the pads never leaked, and my underwear was spared.

Day 2: The ultimate test

I washed the Mini that morning and continued to wear the Maxi until the other pad was dry. Washing the pads was much easier than I anticipated, so I definitely don’t have a valid excuse anymore to keep tossing out used pads and tampons. I machine-washed them in hot water with my regular clothes.

Looking back, I realize that at least some of my discomfort with these sorts of pads was my misconception about the lack of sanitation, but in reality, they’re not difficult to clean, nor do they stain the rest of my laundry. They air-dry quickly without losing shape, becoming lumpy, or losing their soft texture. Lunapads includes cleaning instructions with your package of goodness, and there are actually several ways to wash the pads, so you can choose which method works best for you.

I wore the pad during a horseback riding lesson and it turned out better than expected. Riding, and particularly jumping, guarantees a lot of movement for the rider.

Walking on a treadmill is one thing, but flying over jumps with your ass sticking out in the air? That is quite another. I’ll be honest: I was shocked by how the pad stayed in place. And since it didn’t get bunched up or lumpy like a disposable pad, I could ride without being distracted by any discomfort.

The author rides a horse.
[Image description: The author rides a brown horse.]
That night, I switched out my pad again. I didn’t mind washing them every day for this trial week, but if you decide to go the route of the Performa Pads, I would definitely recommend starting out with a decent supply so you can go a few days without running out.

Day 3: The lighter days are here again

By day three or four of my period, my flow tends to get lighter. So far, I had not experienced any leaking, and the heaviest days were over!

The pads truly are absorbent and keep you feeling dry. On day three, I worked an overnight shipment at my job, meaning I had to put boxes of new shoes and replenishment out on the floor. This means that I’d be hustling all over the store, quickly putting shoes in their proper places and helping my manager lift boxes. The pad didn’t restrict my movement, and once again, I continued with hard physical activity without any problems.

And unlike a disposable pad, the Performa Pads don’t crinkle or irritate the skin. Some disposable pads have given me small rashes in the past, but these pads were barely noticeable – and didn’t hurt me in the least.

Day 4: We’re almost done!

My periods are short due to my IUD, so by day four, my period was almost done. I wore my Mini to another riding lesson, and then swapped that out for a wash and changed into my Maxi for dinner with friends. I wore a dress and had no problems.

A group of five women standing together.
[Image description: The author stands in front of a tree with four of her friends.]
I might have shamelessly plugged Performa Pads to them over drinks, but can you blame me?

I also like how there is no foul smell associated with them. I feel like disposable pads aren’t absorbent enough and they end up smelling bad after a few hours, which used to make me very self-conscious. Or they’re scented, which is almost worse. But the pads easily wick moisture away and don’t smell bad.

The final verdict: 

Overall, I had a great experience with my Performa Pads, and I’ll never scoff at reusable menstrual pads again. These are not messy and they’re more convenient than I thought they would be. I like the fact that they don’t get in the way of all the activities I do. I’m giving these a 10 out of 10.

I am constantly moving, whether I am at my riding lessons, at the gym, or fixing the sales floor at work. I’m really active, and I don’t want to feel restricted by the menstrual product I use. I also felt less wasteful because I wasn’t throwing out pads and tampons. Yay, environment!

SO. Now that you know what worked for me (yay Performa Pads!), take this cool matchmaker quiz and see what works for you. Because nobody’s body is the same – and I definitely figured that out the hard way.

Having your period is not fun for anyone, so #treatyourself, right?