In June 2020, I reflected on how stagnated the mainstream menstrual care category looked. While start-ups were offering innovative solutions to move the experience of having a period forward, mainstream supermarket brands were still offering the same technology as they did 20 years ago. Women’s expectations were changing, and brands were not keeping up.

Fast forward to present day – it’s September 2021. Some things have stayed the same: I’m still not sure what we’re supposed to call this category (is it personal hygiene? Women’s care? Period stuff?); attempts to make talking about periods more inclusive is still being met with disdain; and yes, Covid is still a thing.

But some things are changing: over the last few months, I’ve noticed a shift in how mainstream brands are approaching periods, and it’s got me hopeful for the future of how people experience them. Here’s a quick round up of the main movers and shakers in the category.

First up, Tampax’s Period Tracker. Launched earlier this year, the Tampax Period Tracker encourages women to record their cycles to avoid being caught unaware as Mother Nature comes knocking. Sure, it’s partly just a way to make sure Tampax products are top of mind when the moment comes, but to me, this is also about breaking down some of the taboos associated with menstruation. Rather than being a scary moment in the month that creeps up on you, it’s something that you can take control of. Rather than being something to shush away and ignore, it’s something to really get to know and understand. With the success of apps like Natural Cycles and the ever-increasing integration of biofeedback into our daily lives (think FitBits and Apple Watches), Tampax seem to be tapping into something.

Next is BodyForm’s Period Pants. While Thinx have long been beating the period pant drum, seeing them hit supermarket shelves shows a great shift in the options open to women. And it’s not just BodyForm making period pants more accessible: M&S and Primark now make their own, meaning there are options for women across the whole price scale. It would, however, be nice if comfort and choice were a legitimate reason for people to ditch their single use alternatives, and not have to be saving the world at the same time.

And finally, while it’s not a period solution per-se, an over the counter contraceptive pill caught my eye. Advertised no less on ad breaks for Love Island, Hana contraceptive pills, which are taken daily as a preventative contraception, can now be accessed without a doctor’s consultation. On the one hand, the commercialization of what many women would see to be almost a right in modern society might raise some eyebrows. But on the other, giving women more choice and more accessibility when it comes to being in control of their own bodies is not something to dismiss. And it also finally means a contraceptive pill with a name I can remember!

So, it seems times are a-changing (a little) in the world of menstruation (and beyond). But don’t fret, there’s plenty more to be done. The hugely successful Alice Liveing launched her workout app this year, Give Me Strength, which includes tailored workouts and plans for when you’re menstruating, and DAME are still the only business I have seen to make applicator tampons less wasteful – and these are just a few ways in which the category could keep moving forward.

What do you wish the category would do better, and get right for people who menstruate?

Categories: Health, Travel & Lifestyle

BY ENGINEER Lucinda Toole

Lucinda.toole@thevalueengineers.com