Alternative Period Products: What Every Tween and Teen Girl Should Know

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: Alternative Period Products: What Every Tween and Teen Girl Should Know

Written by: Marybeth Bock

There are some things about having a period that haven’t changed all that much in a generation. The sheer inconvenience of it all, the annoying mild to somewhat painful cramps that most girls experience, not to mention the worry (especially on heavy days) of having an accident and leaking at the most inopportune time – like during gym class or when you’re in Algebra class in the middle of a test.

The good news is, there are several things that have changed for the better since we were teenagers grappling with our monthly periods. As with most physical and mental health topics, discussions about menstrual periods and all that surrounds them are much more open and honest today.

(Does anyone else remember being handed a box of pads and a little, pink booklet with a title like “You’re a Woman Now” – with that being the entirety of the mother-daughter exchange when you got your first period?)

The unspoken message was that it seemed shameful and too private to talk about.

Thankfully, the stigma and taboos surrounding menstrual hygiene are fading fast in most parts of the world. 

Today, there are a myriad of helpful resources to access information and dispel myths about reproductive health. Gone are the days of discreet booklets and awkward slide shows in gym class. Young girls can easily search for and find websites and videos full of medical facts, helpful advice, and the latest products that make life easier when they are period novices. 

Of course, as with every other aspect of our lives, a breadth of knowledge along with technology has brought about significant changes in how girls and women deal with their periods. Here are a few advancements tweens and teens should know that might make getting their period a little less of a hassle.

Alternative Period Products: What Every Tween & Teen Girl Should Know

Period Tracker: There’s an App for That!

Did you know that there are smartphone apps to help your tween or teen track their menstrual cycle? Period tracking apps do the basics of prompting users to enter what day they start and stop menstruating each month.

Many apps also have useful features that allow you to track symptoms such as headaches, moodiness, and cramping throughout the month. Some even connect users to anonymous message boards where they can ask potentially uncomfortable questions of other users.

It’s helpful for your tween or teen to get into the habit of tracking her cycle – especially considering that in the first two years after a girl starts getting her period, it’s not uncommon to have irregular cycles and, in some cases, even skip some months. Also, according to, cycle lengths vary, some coming as often as every 24 days, and some as long as every 34 days.

Another reason for girls to know when their period typically starts each month is so they can plan ahead and have supplies on hand. No one wants to experience that panicky feeling of thinking you’ve started your period when you’re sitting in the middle of a crowded classroom.  

Want to get to know your cycle better? Here are the 10 Best Period Tracking Apps to Try. According to, the best period tracking app for teens is the free “MagicGirl” app.

Period Underwear is Rising in Popularity

If you’re not yet familiar with period underwear, it’s become a game-changer for many girls. They’re great for tweens and teens who may not want to wear tampons, who don’t like the feel or bulkiness of pads, or who don’t want to contribute to the environmental waste of traditional period hygiene products.

According to Global News Canada, “Over the course of a lifetime, a person who menstruates is predicted to throw away roughly 400 pounds of packaging from these products, and those harmful plastics often end up in landfills, sewer systems, and waterways.”

The cool thing about period underwear is that it’s constructed to look and feel like regular underwear, but it’s made with extra layers and highly absorbent fabrics to soak up menstrual blood. Many manufacturers offer styles in various levels of absorbency that are designed to be worn at different times during your cycle. One pair of period underwear can hold anywhere from one to five tampons’ worth of flow, so it can be helpful for a user to experiment and find out how many pairs they’ll need during their cycle, dependent upon their unique flow pattern. Period underwear can be worn by itself, or as an extra layer of protection.

If it seems like cleaning period underwear might be a hassle, it’s actually a simple process. They just need to be rinsed in cold water, then machine washed on a delicate cycle, and hung to air dry. Most period underwear will last for about two years if cared for properly.

The best thing about period underwear is that it comes in a variety of sizes and styles, such as briefs, hiphuggers, bikinis, boyshorts, thongs, and sleep shorts. Some brands even offer swimwear. A few of the most popular brands for teens are Thinx, Rubylove, KnixTeen, and Bambody.

Menstrual Cups – A Sustainable Alternative to Consider

A menstrual cup is a small, reusable period product that is funnel-shaped and made of flexible rubber or silicone. It’s worn internally like a tampon to collect period fluid. Cups can hold more blood than other period products, so many teens use them as an eco-friendly alternative to tampons. Depending on a user’s flow, a cup can be worn for up to 12 hours.

If your teen is interested in using a menstrual cup, they should visit their pediatrician or gynecologist first, to be certain they purchase the correct size – most teens will likely need the smallest available size – and to learn how to insert, remove, and properly clean the cup. It may take a little practice for a teen to get used to using one versus a tampon, but once she gets the hang of it, she’ll likely find it’s not all that difficult.

Reusable menstrual cups, which typically range in price from $20 to $40 for a single cup, are durable and can last from six months to ten years with proper care, making them both a budget-friendly and eco-friendly choice. Another upside is that they don’t contain any chemicals and are not associated with toxic shock syndrome, a rare, life-threatening condition linked to tampon use.

Some of the more popular menstrual cup brands for teens are Saalt, Lunette, Blossom Cup, and Cora Cup.

No matter which period products your teen decides to use, she can always benefit by having increased awareness of what specific options are available. Remember, encourage open communication at home. Both our teen daughters and sons stand to gain when we invite open and honest discussion about periods and that they are a completely normal and healthy part of teen girls’ development.

About Marybeth Bock:

Marybeth Bock, MPH, is Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing – as long as iced coffee is involved. Her work can be found on numerous websites and in two books. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.


If you enjoyed “Alternative Period Products: What Tween & Teen Girls Should Know,” here are a few other posts you might enjoy reading: 

10 Best PMS Home Remedies for Teen Girls

10 Tips for Dealing with a Moody Teenager

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