Is there actually a tampon shortage right now? Evidently, yes. As if the recent formula shortage hasn’t been hard enough on (mostly) women, now…this. Sigh. But at least there are some great alternatives, if not permanent solutions to tampons or pads. And fortunately, we’ve tried a lot of them for you over the years.
Related: 8 single-use products that will go away in our lifetimes. Here’s what to use instead.
Tampon alternatives we’ve tried:
From period underwear to menstrual cups
- If your’e thinking about THINX Period Underwear (image at top), Kristen tried them a while back and offers all the honest details you need to make a decision. They also now conveniently offer THINX Period Underwear on Amazon — including new athletic styles on Amazon, should that make things easier (and faster) for you to get what you need.There’s also Thing BTWN Period Underwear made for tweens and teens.And on top of it all, they’re great supporters of menstrual equity in general — acknowledging that it’s not just women who menstruate, and not just skinny women either. Whatever size you are, whatever your body, you will definitely find something that suits you from THINX.
- Knix is another popular brand of leak-proof and period-proof underwear that includes the Knixteen (or KT by Knix) line made just for teens with lighter flows. They were a podcast sponsor several years ago, and you can find info about them on this helpful post about how to answer all your daughter’s questions about menstruations and periods that I wrote a while back. One of the benefits are the multi-packs that include a selection of underwear made for different flows, since we all know that day one is nothing like day four.
Important Update: It’s come to our attention that both period underwear brands are currently facing lawsuits for the inclusion of PFAs or “forever chemicals,” while claiming they don’t contain PFAs. The brands deny the allegations. Note that PFAs are harmful if consumed, not worn, however manufacturing runoff can potentially create problems. Also note that a lawsuit is no guarantee of guilt or malicious intent but please do research before choosing to use any period underwear products.
- The Flex Cup is another tampon alternative that tons of our readers swear by. While we don’t have a full review here, I can recall quite a few of our own writers over the years have been fans of Flex, as well as the original menstrual cup brand, The Diva Cup. It now comes in three different sizes, to suit different flows.If PFAs are a concern, these may be the best choice for you — and tens of thousands of satisfied users can’t be wrong.
- Last, there’s the Flex Disc disposable tampon alternative. It didn’t get the highest marks from our tester, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be right for you. Take a look at our full Flex Disc Review and see if this comfortable alternative to a menstrual cup could be a good solution for the short term. Or hey, maybe for the long-term.
It’s not such a bad thing to wean ourselves off disposable, single-use products of all kinds, and yes, that includes tampons and menstrual products. I just wish it didn’t take another incredibly stressful product shortage to get us thinking about it.
If now isn’t the right now (or you have tween or teens who feel more comfortable with tampons), we’ve had luck finding them at pretty normal prices at Target. We can’t say the same for Amazon, where prices on the ones Kristen uses (OB) are outrageous (Like $42 a box). You’ll also want to check drug stores online, like CVS or Walgreens), or shop local at your supermarket, or your small family-owned pharmacies that might have good stock. It’s a good idea to grab a couple of boxes on your next shopping trip, and if you can, grab one more to donate to a local shelter. Menstrual products are the number one most needed item for many shelters.
Good luck out there, menstruators!