Ad – This post is in collaboration with WUKA (stands for Wake Up Kick Ass) who have a size inclusive range up to 6XL of period protection pants. I received gifted items in exchange for this post, however all opinions remain my own. You can shop online at www.wuka.co.uk
As a plus size person that wants to make eco concious changes to their life I have looked into as many options as I can for sustainable period protection and wanted to create this ‘start here’ guide to help other plus sized menstruators find comfortable period protection. I was absoutely thrilled when WUKA reached out to me to offer me a chance to review some of their period protection wear because I’ve been wanting to try period pants for a while now. I am also passionate about women in business and companies that get a kick out of breaking down stigma surrounding traditionally taboo issues such as periods.
WUKA have a great range of period protection pants available including a brand new lingerie range which is absolutely wonderful. We already feel a little rubbish when on our periods and sometimes a little bit of lingerie can make us feel better, particularly if they’re comfortable, stylish and have a bit of a pretty edge to them. The new lingerie range is also available in sizes XS – 6XL and includes a high waist, hipster brief and thong option in various flows depending on your personal preferences.
Start Here for the Plus Size Persons Guide to Sustainable Period Protection
Getting sustainable period protection or making the change to reusable period wear is honestly a fantastic solution. There is a real issue with period poverty and alongside sustainability we need to talk about the options around affordable sustainable period protection as well as considering that not everyone can afford or has the facilities to wash and clean resusable period products. As someone that frequently talks about how sustainability needs to include all class systems and consider both financial and time poverty I couldn’t continue this post without mentioning that. However, I do want to encourage any person if they have the means to swap, do to so because they are really simple swaps that will save you money (and underwear if you’ve had a particularly heavy flow!) and I would also encourage if you can donate period protection to any charities hat you opt for plastic free products.
What are my options for a Plastic Free Period?
There are currently a choice of three swaps you can make for a plastic free period depending on your flow and personal preference. However I want to bust the myth that plus size period are restricted in what they can use. More companies are making their period products size inclusive and increasing their plus size ranges as well as catering to different styles and shapes. This is all really encouraging. I am going to talk about Menstrual Cups, Cloth Pads and Period Pants sharing what I think are the cons and benefits of each.
Are Period Pants Suitable for Plus Size People?
Period Pants have come a really long way in increasing their size range and I’m happy to say that WUKA cater to a 6XL which their size guide recommends up to a size 26. They are exactly what you think, pants made for your period without the need for extra period protection such as pads and tampons. Some folks like to combine period pants with a cup or tampon for very heavy days if they aren’t feeling comfortable or they feel they need to adjust depending on their flow type or if they’re just new to period pants. Most of them are black, and have high waist or a midi brief option. The WUKA pants are black with a super soft layers of absorbable material to wick away the blood and absorb it. They are made to be breathable to limit odours and keep you feeling fresh, dry and comfortable.
Caring for Period Pants
Period Pants do not really require much extra work to keep clean and dry. After use it is recommended to give them a quick cold water rinse. WUKA suggests you can do this in the sink, shower or, if like us, you use other reusable products, a rinsing bucket. They can then be washed on a dark coloured garment wash at 30 and air dryed. It is not recommended to use fabric conditioner with reusable products as this can affect the absorbancy of them. They should then be air dried inside out ready to use for your next cycle.
Pros of Period Pants
There are a great range of options available depending on size, flow and comfort style. I personally find them comfortable to wear however I haven’t worn them with my cycle yet so I will update how I found them during my period before the end of the month. I like how they feel, they feel soft, comfortable and doesn’t feel like i’m wearing any extra protection. The WUKA pants fit me nicely and I like that there is a lingerie range on offer too. Some companies also offer a Swimwear bikini brief which allow those that don’t feel comfortable using a cup or tampon to continue finding joyous movement during their period. WUKA period pants are completely carbon neutral plus, and they have recently released their full carbon footprint analysis report which you can find here.
Cons of Period Pants
More sizes are needed to make this truly inclusive for all body shapes and sizes, particularly when considering a swimwear range which is very new at the moment. I did try searching for period protection swimwear and couldn’t find anything above a size 18. Hopefully, sizes will increase making this a fantastic option for plus sized people who want to try period pants. There are menstruators above a size 26 so I hope to see an increase in size inclusivity in the future.
Cloth Sanitary Protection or CSP – Reusable Cloth Pads
The second option is CSP or cloth pads which are probably the most size inclusive as they work exactly the same way as disposable pads do. I have personally been using cloth pads since the birth of my son, now three years and I am really glad I made the swap. I have a collection of around twenty cloth pads now ranging in size, flow type and shape. I have got mine from small businesses on Etsy and have a preference for fleece lining as they are the most comfortable for me. Like period pants cloth pads work by wicking the blood away from the skin into absorbable layers. They are cared for in the same way as period pants when rinsing, washing and drying. Some individual garment businesses use excess fabric to make CSP which is great for reducing waste.
Pros of CSP
No need for a particular size, you shop based on your flow and if you want nighttime (longer/bigger) day time and panty liners. Can fit in most underwear and does up with a popper. Very easy to clean and feels softer than a disposable pad. I haven’t needed to replace mine in three years and find the absorbancy still very good. I love that you can get funky patterns for your period protection and can support a small business.
Cons of CSP
Some menstruators don’t like the feel of a pad so it’s down to personal preference. Depending on colour and how well you rinse them they can stain. Need a good stash depending on your flow which can be a high expense at first.
Using A Menstrual Cup/Disc as a Plus Size Person
I will be completely upfront and honest here but I don’t think cups are for me. I personally never really liked tampons anyway but that is not to say that a Plus Size Person can not use a menstrual cup and I would still like to give it ago in the future particularly as I love to swim and feel my current options restrict me from this during my period. The feedback from friends has been that a cup has been ‘lifechanging’ for them and if it means we can embrace plastic free periods and give more options to my fellow period people then I’m happy! The first step is finding a cup that suits you and I recommend the website Put a Cup In It who have a fantastic quiz to help you find, potentially, your ideal cup for your flow and size. Using a menstural cup is similar to using a tampon but does require some flexibility and dexterity. There are lots of options and videos to help guide you exactly how to use your menstrual cup or disc. It should not be painful or umcomfortable to wear. A cup or disc usually lasts around 8-12 hours depending on flow, requires you to remove, rinse and replace during your cycle and should be boiled to sterilise between cycles.
Pros of a menstrual cup/disc
Great for those that like a tampon but it holds more blood so reduces the need for continous changes. Loads of different options for people of all sizes and flow types. Can be inserted with a water based lube to prevent irritation and well, it just makes it easier. Doesn’t require a lot of maintenance to keep it clean. Once you have the one that works for you, you don’t need anymore.
Cons of a cup/disc
Personally, I just can’t reach. I have a belly, short arms and limited flexibility. Being able to self insert at the moment just doesn’t work for me and I don’t think its affordable to continue buying multiple cups just to try and find the right size. However, this does not affect all plus size people it just depends on your own personal limits, arm and finger length.
Is there a ‘best’ option for sustainable period protection
Personally, no I don’t think there is a best option because it is all about what is comfortable for you, your size and flow. Find what works best for you, what appeals to you most and what you can afford. Now I have a mix of period pants and cloth pads I feel like I’m sorted. I’m glad that I don’t have to make a quick stop for emergency disposables if I feel I’m caught short – although I do track my period monthy so I usually know when I’m about to start bleeding which helps. I am all about comfort during what is usually a painful time of the month and I’ve not had a problem with leaking using plastic free period protection which has limited my stress. I am an advocate for plastic free period protection for all plus size people and I hope this guide has helped to encourage you to try resuables in time for your next cycle.