For my last period, I couldn’t find my much beloved Diva cup.
(I can literally hear all the guys reading this instantly click off this blog post, but if you are brave enough to make it past that first sentence I think you’ve made it past the hard part.)
Well, I was debating whether to use the cloth pads my daughter uses or break down and use a tampon, which I haven’t used in years and years.
I didn’t really love the idea of going through my week wearing cloth pads exclusively around the clock… but in the end I couldn’t use a tampon.
I just couldn’t do it… so yep, I used cloth pads around the clock just like I was a preteen again!
And you know what? I LOVED IT! Something comforting and natural and healthy feeling about it. No, I’m not going to do that every period… but maybe every couple of months.
Anyone else out there do that? Leave me a comment and tell me I’m not alone 🙂
But the bottom line is that re-deciding if I was going to use a tampon or not reminded me of all of the reasons I’m glad I have stopped using them. So, I thought I’d share the reasons with you here, so you could give tampons a second thought too:
Reason #1 — it’s not eco-friendly to use disposable tampons or pads.
- A good general estimate for lifetime tampon usage is roughly 12,000 tampons per woman. That’s one woman. Using tampons for roughly five days per cycle, for an average of 40 years of menstruation.
- The cotton alone is not something we really want to put up inside our bodies to sit for long periods of time. About 84 million POUNDS of pesticides are sprayed on the cotton grown in the US each YEAR… and typically the cotton grown here is GMO cotton. So not only are you supporting GMO crops but those pesticides are now finding their way into your body in a most personal way.
Even if they are organic and unbleached, the pads and tampons have to go somewhere.
- Meghan Telpner has a fabulous blog post where she gives away a free printable expose that she wrote on the tampon industry. In it, she finds that in 1998, the estimated amount of menstrual products that ended up in sewers and landfills was 6.5 million tampons and 13.5 BILLION pads… plus all of their packaging.
- Sadly, a statistic from the Center for Marine Conservation states that they collected over 170,000 tampon applicators from the United States coastal area that year alone.
- You can print out your own free copy of her report from her blog here.
Reason#2 — tampons are not healthy for you… even organic ones.
- Most tampons are not actually all cotton anyway… they add rayon fibers to increase absorption, chemical deodorants and fragrances, and other nasty synthetic compounds.
- The rayon fibers are known to increase the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, as they in particular love to host the growth of bacteria.
- When those fibers are sitting in your vaginal canal for hours, plastered up against your delicate porous mucosal membranes… well… literally the pesticides, chemicals and bacteria harbored on the typical tampon are throwing a little party in your body, and you are the guest of honor. That’s why the tampon industry itself *must* recommend changing tampons at least every 8 hours… they know after 8 hours, that tampon is such a time bomb of bacteria and chemicals that it needs to get out of your body! Do not wear tampons overnight, ladies!
Are you ready for more?
- One of the worst parts about tampons is that the bleaching process creates dioxins, a horribly toxic substance.
- To avoid this, the tampon industry developed a â€œnon-bleachâ€ bleaching process, called Elemental Chlorine Free (EFC) bleaching. This process lowers, but does not eliminate, the amount of dioxins in tampons and pads. They are still present in detectable amounts.
- Given that dioxins accumulate and persist in human beings, and that their toxic side effects are disruption of enzymatic and hormone pathways, their presence leads to grave consequences. First of all, they accumulate in fat and breast tissue, so their main modes of elimination are through breast milk and the placenta. Yuck… dioxins are passed along to the fetus and the nursing baby. Dioxins are a known human carcinogen, with teratogenic effects. Meaning a known *human* (not laboratory rat) cancer causing substance proven to cause birth defects.
- And we are putting our tampons where? In our vagina, to sit pressed up against a super porous and absorptive mucosal membrane.
- Tampons physically damage your body. The fibers in the tampon causes microtrauma and tears to the mucosal membranes every single time a tampon is inserted or removed, often even leaving fibers behind.
- So now, through these micro-tears, the chemicals are having a direct line of entry to your blood and circulation.
- The truth is that women who use conventional pads and tampons have direct exposure to dioxins… albeit at very very small doses. But those small doses, around the clock, for almost a week every month, every month out of the year, for forty years straight is no small exposure. Especially given that these dioxins are very slow to be excreted, they accumulate during your entire lifetime.
(Why, exactly, does a product intended to absorb and dispose of menstrual fluid need to be stark white and bleached in the first place? I have no idea.)
- Using organic unbleached tampons are a step in the right direction, but it’s not one of my favorite options. This will reduce the chemical exposure to your body… yet not reduce the micro-trauma to your vagina or reduce the amount of waste produced by using these items.
Hmmm… time to rethink things a bit.
Filling our bodies with chemicals and our oceans with refuse is a bit scary to me, especially when there are other options.
1. The first option is cloth pads.
GladRags is probably one of the most popular brands… and they are awesome. Like I mentioned, I used them day and night for my last period and was again reminded of how totally DIFFERENT and comforting these were compared to the disposable pads I used long ago. These are soft, stayed in place… no pad winding up sticking to my butt or making plastic sounds when I walked. It was lovely!
They feel like the softest, most comfy worn in t-shirt, warm and gentle, snapped onto your underwear. They are colorful (hooray for no more stark white bleached things!) and washable and reusable.
Best of all, there is no tell-tale diaper sound of plastic and paper rustling around when you walk. Even organic unbleached pads feel like a diaper to me. Not Glad Rags… these are as soft (actually softer) then your underwear. You can add extra inserts and get larger pads for overnight use.
Just rinse in the sink, hang up to dry, and reuse by night. Once the entire period is done, at the end of the menstrual cycle, toss in the washing machine and you’ll be all set for next month. Because you re-use them, cloth pads wind up saving you hundreds of dollars a year. 5 cloth pads equal 300+ disposable ones.
There are lots of handmade cloth pads on Etsy… super soft and made from recycled fabrics and even more inexpensive… check them out!
2. My personal favorite option is the Diva Cup.
I simply can not sing their praises enough.
I have been using mine for about four years straight now and love it more and more.
I have not purchased a single tampon or pad for four years… not one.
I have not had to throw away plastic wrappers, tampon applicators, or expose myself to cotton fibers, micro-trauma, or dioxins. Once you feel how smoothly menstrual cups are inserted and removed, remembering how the cotton in the tampons you used used to scrape in and out of your vagina will be a little bit like the feeling of scraping your fingernails down a chalkboard. Gives me a shiver just thinking about it!
My favorite thing about the Diva cup is that it makes periods odor-free.
Since the menstrual fluid sits in the cup until you empty it out into the toilet, it does not come into contact with air, so there is no bacterial odor at all. No bacterial growth and no Toxic Shock Syndrome risk at all. No odor and no risk whatsoever of Toxic Shock Syndrome makes this method an instant winner in my book.
There is no messy blood soaked string, no gooey pad, nothing. I literally forget I have my period except for the two or three times a day that I wash it out and reinsert it.
You just flush away the menses, wash the Diva Cup in the sink, dry it, and reinsert.
My second favorite thing about the cup is that you can use it over night fearlessly. Because there is no risk at all of TSS, you can leave it safely in place for 12 hours. Just empty it at whatever frequency you need to accommodate your flow.
No pads, no leaking, no mess, no smell. You use the same cup over and over and over… just wash and reinsert, no need to purchase more then one.
Not only does the Diva Cup make my periods more comfortable, not only is it incredibly environmentally friendly, but it is the cheapest way to have a period. One upfront cost (I’ve seen it cost anywhere from $19.99 to $30 at stores and on-line) saves you from purchasing LITERALLY thousands of tampons and pads.
So the two healthiest ways to deal with your next period are actually the two cheapest ways as well. It’s win-win!!!!
Tell your girlfriends… they’ll feel healthier, spend less, reduce chemical exposure, decrease GMO cotton demand and save the landfill space.
Who knew one little thing could make such a big difference? Every day women stress over the food they put into their body, spend mega bucks on vitamins, organic food and gym memberships to take care of their health.. but then they send bleached out, chemical laden tampons scraping in and out of their body during their period.
It doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t have to be that way. So spread the word, peeps!
And tell me if you’ve given menstrual cups a try and if you like them… and also which brand you prefer! I have only ever tried the Diva cup, so would love to hear feedback about the other brands!
PS — want to lots more female health advice… everything from how to handle PMS, mood swings, food cravings, hormonal acne, perimenopause, hot flashes, bone density and WAY WAY MORE?
Maybe even… *gasp*… ENJOY your next menstrual cycle and find a NEW SENSE OF FREEDOM AND POWER during your transition through perimenopause and beyond?
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