A blog reader pointed out to me recently that I never mention alternative and more eco friendly menstrual products. I think I may have mentioned them briefly in the past but I agree I do not mention them nearly enough. Since the time I developed a need for them until my mid twenties I was using what is considered mainstream for menstrual products…disposable pads and tampons. I never really liked either of these options but I wasn’t really aware of alternatives. No, I take that back. I had heard of cloth pads but I didn’t think that was something women in “developed” countries used…sounds kinda snobbish huh? But I went through quite a few transformations when I had my second child. I started using cloth diapers when she came into my life and I quickly found that many cloth diapering mamas were also quite fond of mama cloth. I ordered some from a friend of mine that made them and the rest is history. After I tried reusable cloth menstrual pads one time I knew I would not use paper and plastic disposables ever again. I won’t go into details here but it was like finding silk after a life filled with sandpaper. I never knew I had sandpaper until I found the silk. But even better than finding the ultimate comfort is finding an eco friendly and less wasteful alternative.
Environmentally-friendly menstrual products provide clean and healthy choices for women seeking alternatives to the synthetic products that can harm the body and harm the environment. Disposable pads and tampons are just like disposable diapers…they are loaded with chemicals and they end up in our landfills. They don’t allow our skin to breathe, they can harbor bacteria, and they are really NOT all that comfortable. I am going to discuss some of the alternatives below.
In the safe disposable category are non-chlorine bleached all-cotton pads and tampons. These products are not as environmentally friendly as reusable products but they are chemical free. It is, however possible to find pesticides in 100% all natural cotton products. To reduce this exposure it is suggested that you choose a brand made with organic cotton. I used some of these that I got at Whole Foods and I didn’t care for them but if the options below aren’t your thing these are safer than conventional. Her are some organic tampons and here are some organic pads…both disposable.
Cloth Menstrual Pads
Reusable and pads are just like disposable pads except that instead of throwing them out after use they can be washed out and reused. Reusable pads usually consist of two parts: a liner and a liner holder. Although there are AIO or All-In-One options to. The liner fits into the holder which has wings that snap around the crotch portion of underwear to remain secure. On those days where the flow is lighter, the liner holder can be used alone; on heavy days, two or more liners can be used with one holder. This product is more expensive than traditional disposal pads but will result in significant savings over the long run since they will last for many years.
Here are my favorites:
Sckoon Organic Cotton Menstrual Pads– These are a favorite. They have quite a few great prints and they are made of 100% Organic Egyptian cotton; the rarest, softest, and the most luxurious cotton in the world. It has super absorbability, incredible breathability and silky softness. I love how comfortable and colorful they are.
GladRags– You can get these made from regular cotton or organic cotton and in several different earthy colors. They have a liner and holder as explained above and overall they make for a very sturdy cloth pad. I have had some of these on hand for several years now. They also have daytime and nighttime sizes.
LunaPads– These are very pretty pads a bit more on the luxurious side. They have some really fun colors and designs and even some panties with a pad built in. They have organic and non as well and some really nice panty liners too.
Sorella Luna Organic Pads – These are an All-in-One where the absorbent material is built into the pad with wings, so it is one piece. They are super soft and comfortable and one of my faves. You can get super and regular and a carrying bag too for your purse.
Caring for them is pretty easy. You can keep them in a container to soak until wash day or you can dry store and them give them a good soak in cold water and then wash. If stains bother you than soaking them right away might be best. I don’t particularly care about stains myself.
Sea sponges can be used as an alternative to tampons. These are the same sponges that are found on the ocean floor. The benefit of using sponges is that they are all natural. As far durability goes, one sponge will last for about 6 months. Are you trying to imagine how to use a sponge? It is very straight forward. Upon being moistened with water and squeezed the sponge can then be fairly easily inserted just like a tampon. After about 3 hours the sponge will have to be removed and rinsed out before reuse. At the end of the cycle the sponge must be cleaned and air dried.
These were never my thing but if you to give them a try I recommend Jade and Pearl Sea Sponges.
And we come to my all time favorites! Menstrual cups are popular with many all natural alternative users. Menstrual cups are small, rubber or silicone cups that are inserted into the vagina where they are positioned to catch menstrual flow.
The Keeper is a menstrual cup that is made of natural gum rubber (from trees). This cup is placed inside like a tampon and can be worn for 6 to 12 hours depending on the flow after which time it can then be simply emptied, rinsed with soap and water and reinserted. It can also be worn overnight. There are two sizes. Size A is for those who have had a vaginal birth and size B is for those that have not. I LOVE my Keeper. I find that I forget that it is even THAT time of month when I use one and unlike when I used tampons I need no back-up pad protection. The Keeper has a 90 day money back guarantee and it lasts up to ten years, potentially saving over $800.
For women with latex allergies there is the DivaCup. This product is made of silicone. The DivaCup can be worn and managed just like The Keeper and has two sizes as well. In comparison I like the sturdy nature and darker color of The Keeper better than the clear DivaCup which gets dingy after many uses. But The Keeper has a longer stem which some women find uncomfortable but you can cut the stem on either cup to a comfortable level. Both products cost between $25 to $35 dollars each. But again, they will save money over time as they can last for years. I have had both of mine for over 3 years now. Most women need about 2-3 months to get used to menstrual cups.
Reusable menstrual products are healthier to use and infinitely more comfortable. They may take some adjustment as some women/girls may be uncomfortable dealing with menstrual blood because of years of using disposable, traditional products. I will admit that I am not squeamish in that regard. Caring for them is pretty easy too. So what do you think? Do you already use one or more of these products or were you thinking about it?
Thursday, April 17th, 2008