Having a blog of this nature means that I am regularly being asked “have you tried…” and the answer is often “yes”. I’m lucky enough to sometimes be sent things to try out, like Natural Cycles and Thinx, and more oftentimes I buy things out of genuine intrigue. Today I want to write a few short reviews about three period/menstrual cycle products that I’ve been playing with lately.
Thinx – period-proof pants
Technically speaking, Thinx call them “period-proof underwear” but I’m British and I can enjoy that alliteration!
My first impression was, “they look bloody massive!” And that’s coming from the queen of ginormous pants. Honestly I think it was just because I’m not in the habit of laying out a new pair of pants for a photograph, but what makes them feel bigger is the fact that they are quite substantial. The Thinx site boasts of its four-layer technology including a layer of “moisture-wicking cotton,” whatever that means.
I’ve heard a lot of good things about period pants and even more about Thinx as a brand itself so I was excited to give ’em a try. Supposedly they can carry up to two tampons worth of blood, impressive. Thinx recommend you either use them solo on lighter days of your period or as back up for a tampon or cup on heavier days. I tried solo on a lighter day first and was immediately alarmed by a smell. Am I doing that TMI thing again? Who cares. There was an odour that I can’t say I am used to, and it wasn’t like that sanitary towel smell you get if you open a draw of pads, it was an unhygienic and unpleasant smell. Funnily enough, I didn’t ask anyone to sniff me to see how noticeable it was, but it was pungent enough to annoy me.
Rinsing them is no ickier than rinsing out a menstrual cup and after that you just throw them in the wash and air dry them. I was disappointed that after the first wash there were a couple of threads pulling away from the waistband but it hasn’t affected how they feel which is undoubtedly more comfortable than a sanitary towel. The next time I tried them as a back up to a cup and they worked really well. There was still a smell but not nearly as potent.
Conclusion: I love the idea of having a totally waste-free period but I’m not sure I’m sold on period pants after this experience. I’m open minded though and as always, I think it’s a step in the right direction! Also heads up, it’s a US company and I had to pay import tax before I could collect the package, but this might be because I didn’t pay shipping since the company sent them to me for free.
Well this is what they called it when I purchased it but that word seems to have disappeared now. It seems it’s now a “Clue Membership”.
We know I love Clue. As a menstrual cycle tracking app I have raved about it since my second menarche (I know that’s not actually a thing). I don’t think #Periodically would exist without it. I’m even a Clue Ambassador. I do wonder if what I’m about to write might get me kicked out of that club. I hope it doesn’t because I think part of an ambassador’s job is to raise any red flags.
Last summer it became pretty clear that Clue were looking for ways to make money, fair enough. The app is so clean and lovely that it would’ve been a shame to see it riddled with adverts or if they’d started selling users’ data to third party companies. So they announced they were going to introduce some paid features into the app – Clue Premium. I defended the decision at the time. Clue has served me well for a long time, I was, am, happy to support the company in all the good it’s doing. Until I saw how much they were charging. In the UK, if you want to pay month-by-month it will cost £9.99 each month. To pay for six months in one go it’s £31.99 and for a year it’s £42.99. That’s bonkers. One of the main reasons I’m trying menstrual cups and period pants is to save money on my period. Now I’ve got that money back, I’m hardly likely to invest £40 a year on my period all over again. However, Clue promised that everything that was available on the app before Premium would still be available on the free version of the app.
So what extra features could Clue possibly introduce to justify £40 a year? When Premium was rolled out to everyone, it made itself known by sending notifications every now and then saying “you have a new Forecast today,” and when you tried to view the forecast it would ask you to pay. Again, fair enough. So I paid for a month. I was very sceptical, but I wanted to see if it was worth £9.99. The notifications stopped. Every time I clicked the forecast button I was told “we can’t see your Forecast yet. Track your health everyday so Clue can provide a personal Forecast.” “The more you track, the smarter Clue gets,” it told me. Let’s be clear, I input an incredible amount of data into Clue every day. In fact, I’ve just checked and the last time I didn’t track was in March 2017. I have tracked upwards of 20 different categories daily for over a year, and more sporadically almost three years. If Clue can’t create a Forecast from my abundance of data, whose can they?
An entire cycle went by without a single forecast. I was ten quid down, nothing up and pretty pissed off. And then, a couple of days before my subscription was ending I got a forecast, and then proceeded to get it for a few days. At the end of the second day of my period it told me that today and tomorrow I could expect to feel focussed. That figures, it’s something I’ve noticed thanks to Clue and that I try to exploit. It had some interesting information about hormones and asked me to confirm if I was focussed, both good things but it was pretty anti-climatic.
I reached out Clue half way through my trial to check I was doing everything right, they were as friendly as ever and explained that, “we’re currently working on improving the algorithm which shows Forecasts, so that it can pick up more from the patterns the user has tracked. Keep an eye out for improved forecasts (and additional Premium features) that will be launching in the next month or so.” Typically, the day my subscription ended there was an app update which included notification of your cycle going out of range as a new Premium/Membership perk.
Conclusion: Maybe I need to give it a longer trial but honestly I cannot justify spending more money on an app reading data for me when the app makes it so easy to read in the first place. This might be the problem with Clue Premium; the free app is so good that it’s difficult to imagine what premium features they could make worth the money. Forecasting is an interesting idea, but as it is now, it is not worth £42.99 a year. I think it was wrong for Clue to charge so much for so little so early on.
Me Luna Menstrual Cups
Me Luna is the only cup brand I’ve tried but it hasn’t given me a reason to look elsewhere.
I’ve talked about my early experience with a menstrual cup in way too much graphic detail, but I haven’t really mentioned it since. I started with a soft Me Luna cup and while I think it was right for learning how to use it and going easy on my messed up reproductive system, I was still having some issues with leaking and wanted to master the art.
So I upped the anti and ordered a classic cup, which was terrifyingly rigid in comparison to the soft cup. And yet, since I’ve found my fold (#FindYourFold) it wasn’t an issue, in fact, it was an improvement. I find it never moves out of place any more, it pops open easier and I only leak when I am extraordinarily heavy, which is a rarer occurrence now I’m on the pill. I do notice my internal pain issues a little more with the firmer cup, but only on insertion – once it’s in there are no issues.
On a slightly ickier note, this time I got a dark blue one and I’ve found that staining is far less of a problem compared to the pale cup of my past.
Conclusion: I can’t fault my Me Luna cup. I feel like I’d already fallen in love with the art of menstrual cupping but changing to a firmer cup has only made me love it more.
Let me know what you think if you’ve tried any of these products or if there’s anything you think I should try, get in touch: @Hilarysaysblaah