Organic cotton pads provide a safe and comfortable alternative during menstruation, writes Meera Murugesan.
WHEN I was growing up, sanitary pads were secret little things which had to be kept away from prying eyes.
If you stepped into a sundry shop to buy a box, the shopkeeper would use a long stick with a hook at the end to bring down a box from a not-so-visible upper shelf. Pads were never openly displayed.
He would then proceed to wrap the box completely in newspaper (in an attempt to hide what it contained) before you left with your odd-looking “gift-wrapped” package.
The taboos surrounding menstruation (which are still prevalent today) turn a basic bodily function among women into something so burdensome.
What women need are clean, comfortable, convenient and affordable options during their time of the month.
I have always felt that if men had to undergo menstruation, we would have fulfilled this requirement a long time ago.
But because it’s women, we are expected to make do with what’s available. In some poor countries, this means old rags because hygienic commercially produced sanitary pads and the convenience that comes with it are out of reach financially for women in certain communities.
But even these pads don’t fulfil the requirements of all women. The use of gels, fragrances and other chemicals in conventional sanitary pads don’t suit certain women, resulting in rashes, itchiness and a burning sensation during their monthly cycle.
Given this huge discomfort, some women today actively seek out alternative options, whether it’s cloth pads or silicone menstrual cups.
Elaine Hong, the co-founder of Enya, decided the solution lay in organic cotton sanitary pads.
Like some women, she found conventional pads very uncomfortable to use and wanted a safer yet convenient alternative.
Enya organic cotton pads were born from Hong’s own search for more effective options during menstruation.
THE ORGANIC OPTION
Coming in an elegant, sleek silver box, Enya pads have a 100 per cent organic cotton topsheet, a safe option for all kinds of skin. The pads also contain no fragrances, harmful chemicals and toxic adhesives.
Like many women, Hong used to buy conventional pads. But last year, after constant bouts with skin irritation, she decided she had had enough and decided to source for safer options.
But she still wanted the convenience offered by conventional pads.
A fashion designer who is now working for a social enterprise, she started to research extensively into the benefits of organic cotton and eco friendly textiles on our skin.
“I realised there wasn’t much innovation on pads despite them being used by women every single month,” says Hong.
She also realised that available disposable organic cotton pads, while comfortable, were very expensive.
They can retail for between RM28 and RM32 for a box of 10 pieces, which makes them out of reach for many women.
Enya pads use organic cotton from the United States but are compressed and packaged in China.
At RM18 for a box of Enya Premium (12 pieces), these pads are very much within the reach of the average woman.
WHAT WOMEN WANT
Through conversations with women, Hong also discovered that they prefer pads which are thin but can absorb well to avoid leakage.
Enya pads deliver exactly that as they are just 0.2cm thick with an absorbency rate of 80ml for the day pads and 120ml for the night ones.
They have also been designed with a U-channel that prevents leakage and a strong adhesive to hold the pad in place.
They also have the added advantage of being environmentally friendly as organic cotton is free of pesticides besides being safer for our bodies.
“We believe that if fewer ingredients go into a pad, the better it will be,” says Hong.
With the launch of Enya, Hong hopes to spark conversations among women about menstruation and how it’s tied to a woman’s general health and wellbeing.
Women need to understand how the regularity of their cycle and the colour and amount of flow is all tied to their health.
Enya will always strive for a balance between practicality and sustainability, she says.
“Our mission is to create comfortable, eco-friendly pads without sacrificing on performance. I started out wanting to solve my own problems until I realised I was not alone.”
Enya products retail online. The company will soon have a monthly subscription service where customers can place orders and have pads sent to their homes every single month.
Besides Enya Premium which contains 12 pads a box (six for day use and six for night), the brand also has Enya Basic which consists of 10 regular pads.
For Enya Basic, consumers will only have to pay a nominal handling and delivery fee of RM10 per order to have the pads delivered to their homes. It’s aimed at offering women affordable and healthier feminine care options.
For more information, go to www.enya.my