Would YOU make and wear your own reusable sanitary pads?

5 June 2019

The team at ActionAid made our own reusable sanitary pads, tried them out and reviewed them. What was the verdict?

We asked two women to trail our reusable sanitary towels. Photo: Lyle Lindgren/ActionAid

Reusable sanitary pads are one of the best ways of beating period poverty around the world. They're cheap to make, effective and great for the environment...but would you use them?

This Menstrual Hygiene Day, the team at ActionAid decided to test them out for ourselves. We took inspiration from a method used by women and girls in Nepal, as part of our work ending period poverty, and got handy with scissors, needles and thread for a Crafternoon.

See the instructions now

We didn’t just want to make the pads though – we wanted to put them to the test and find out how they compare to supermarket-bought pads.

So we challenged two women to trial the homemade reusable pads during their period (possibly one of our more unusual work assignments) and then asked for feedback. Here was their verdict. 

 

We followed instructions for reusable pads similar to the ones taught to women and girls in Nepal. Photo: ActionAid UK

Reusable sanitary pads...what was the verdict?

Matilda, 19:

I was really surprised by how much I liked using them. Pads often cause me irritation – I find wearing a pad a bit itchy and feel its presence the whole time. But the reusable pads are made from cotton and are so soft, so much so I forgot it was there! It felt like wearing a pair of pants.

The only negative point I have is that the towel underneath did bleed through a tiny bit and I don’t normally bleed very much. So if someone’s a heavy bleeder, the reusable pads might not be great or they might need to change them more (I wore one all day and one at night).

I think I might actually start using them now!"

 

Test-driving our homemade sanitary pads. Photo: ActionAid UK

Liz, 38:

I was quite skeptical about the pads, particularly as they looked quite big and bulky. I thought I’d feel really aware of wearing one and imagined that the button would be uncomfortable.

However, the pads were not at all what I was expecting – I might genuinely be a convert now! They were quite ridiculously soft and comfy, and they stayed in place. The button was fine and didn’t move – and I was glad to avoid all issues with the sticky bit you get on normal pads! I was worried the pads would feel visible when I was wearing one, but they didn’t and I felt really confident."

 

Everyone got involved with our Crafternoon making pads. Photo: ActionAid UK

Can I make my own reusable pads?

It's cheap, easy(ish) and great for the environment to use your own pads: download the full instructions and a handy video guide here

They're also a crucial part of ActionAid's work ending period poverty for women and girls around the world. 

No girl, anywhere, should be held back by her period. But the shame and stigma that millions of women and girls experience during their periods is yet another way of men exerting control over their bodies.

That's why we want women and girls around the world to reclaim their rights to their bodies and lives, and say: #MyBodyIsMine.

It sounds simple, but we’ve seen sanitary pads literally changing lives in countries like Malawi and Nepal, where our programmes teach women and girls to make their own pads. Now, not only are girls able to stay in school when they are menstruating, but the reusable pads have created long-term business opportunities for them and the women in their communities.

Find out more about what we do to end period poverty and donate to help us reach more women and girls with the support they need to manage their periods with dignity.

Donate to help end period poverty

ActionAid UK; Samantha Reinders; ActionAid Nepal