If you get a period, you've likely had to deal with the annoyance of wearing huge pads that feel like adult diapers, especially if you have a heavy flow. But menstrual product company Cora is trying to raise the bar with the release of Cora Pads. The company's organic tampons have been wildly popular, especially because they come in subscription boxes that also give back to women in need, and the new pads are the menstrual hygiene products of the future — they're 50 percent thinner than the ultra-thin pads already on the market, even for the overnight version, and they can absorb not only menstrual fluid, but bladder leakage as well. There's another a huge bonus, too: You can buy them at Target.
"As we looked around at existing pads on the market, even new brands were offering antiquated, bulky, diaper-like pads," Cora co-founder Molly Hayward tells Bustle. "After a ton of customer research with hundreds of women to understand what 'the pad of the future' should look like and how it should perform, we spent a full year working with top designers and material engineers to bring our truly innovative pad to market."
Talking openly about your period isn't as taboo as it once was, but there's still a lot of embarrassment and period shaming that surrounds menstrual cycles. From an objective standpoint, it feels silly to feel shame about a natural process that happens to approximately half of adults in the world, but being vocal about your period can still feel unnerving. If you deal with incontinence and have trouble with bladder control, it can feel even more humiliating, even though the condition is widespread. According to WebMD, 25 to 45 percent of women experience incontinence, and it happens to women of all ages.
"Light bladder leakage has been portrayed as something experienced only by older adults, even though it's often experienced by younger women," Hayward says. "We wanted to address the issue of bladder leakage in a way that let women on the younger end of the spectrum know that we don't believe they're experiencing bladder leaks because their bodies are broken or shameful, but because they're incredibly powerful, and that this experience can be easily managed without indignity or embarrassment." The new pads can be worn for either bladder leakage or period protection — or if you experience both at the same time.
There's also a social good aspect to get excited about. For every monthly subscription ordered through its website, Cora donates a monthly supply of menstrual products to women in India, and the company also gives 10 percent of profits from its Target sales to provide pads for girls in Kenya. "We believe that all women and girls should have access to the products and information she needs to manage her period and her health safely and with dignity," Hayward says. Millions of people with periods can't afford tampons or pads and are forced to skip work or school as a result.
Many of us likely haven't thought about what we'd do if we couldn't afford pads or tampons anymore. But underprivileged people who menstruate face more than stigma — they're also often left with unsanitary ways to deal with period cleanup, according to Hayward, who says 300 million people use rags, plastics, sand, and ash to manage their periods because they don't have access to menstrual products.
Your period may be uncomfortable, but there are things you can do to make it slightly more bearable. Instead of feeling like you're wearing a very puffy napkin, you can buy pads and tampons that are organic AND comfortable. Cora's new hybrid pad sets a higher standard for menstrual product companies around the world, and I'm excited to see how they respond. I grew up more comfortable about my period than previous generations, and I can only hope that my future children don't see anything wrong with having a period and talking about it without fear.