Choose Any Three: How Papaya changed the menstrual pad game

Menstrual pads: Better for Your Health, Better for the Environment, More Comfortable. Choose any three.

It’s an obvious joke, but a non-obvious design challenge. Almost without exception, focusing on any particular goal comes at the expense of the other ones. So for example consumers are used to the “fact” that if something is good-for-you, or good-for-the-environment, then it is necessarily less comfortable.

The only way to achieve all three (a “win-win-win”, if you will) is to change the game – and this is exactly what we did.

Before Papaya was ever a company, it was a messy experiment in Shagun’s apartment. (Sadly, we don’t have pictures from back then) She knew what she wanted to achieve (some manner of preventing menstrual pads from being a bane on the environment and the enemy of your skin) but didn’t know how. After more than a year of reading and experimenting, an idea emerged…

See, most menstrual pads retain menstrual blood using the mechanism of absorption. Because of that, they’re driven either to Ultra-Absorbent Plastic cores (thin, dry, but with all the health and environmental burdens of using plastics) or to less-absorbent natural fiber cores (thicker, not as dry, but healthier). Either a win-lose, or a lose-win. A compromise any way you look at it.

Shagun changed this game by creating pads that use the body’s own natural mechanism of blood coagulation. Since the pads no longer need to super-absorb in order to retain menstrual blood, they can lose the plastics and use natural-fiber cores instead. And since they don’t use absorption, they also can’t un-absorb if squeezed by something like a bicycle seat.

The innovation didn’t stop at the core layer. Once plastics were banished from the core, it became logical to banish them from the entire layer stack that constitutes the pad. And from backing sheet. And from the packaging.

With Papaya pads, dry means literally dry. Period!


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