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Monday, August 8, 2011

The Period, can you be more natural?

Okay first a disclaimer. Today’s topic is about that time of the month, so if topics like this ick you out. You can leave now. But if you would like to learn how to have a more natural time read on.

I was recently asked if there is a more natural way to handle that time of the month. We all know that with that week or so we use many products. But is there a way to use less? A way to use more natural products? A way that is good for our bodies and the environment?
But why would we want a more natural way of handling this time of the month?
  • Disposable pads and tampons are bleached and contain chemicals – dioxins whose long-term effects on the human body are unknown
  • Pads give certain women an awful skin irritation akin to diaper rash
  • Some women  find that already bad cramps are made much worse by tampons
  • Approximately 20 billion pads and tampons find their way into North American landfills every year
  • The average North American woman will go through 16,800 disposable pads or tampons in her lifetime
  • A disposable pad snugly wrapped in its plastic packaging will take hundreds of years to decompose
  • Tampons absorb not only menstrual blood, but also natural moisture.  Have you ever experienced that awful dry pulling when you use a tampon close to the end of your period?
  • You have to go back and buy more every single month, which will cost thousands of dollars over your lifetime
  • They're not even 100% cotton! Synthetic fibers are added to increase absorbency but also amplify toxins of a certain bacteria and that’s what can cause the dreaded Toxic Shock Syndrome.(Remember, tampons actively absorb the flow, they don't just catch it naturally.) When I was younger Toxic Shock Syndrome was a very real thing. Young ladies were dying from it.

Greener Options to the Big Red
So what options are out there?
Menstrual Color Cotton Pads - 3 - PackCloth Pads These are not your grandma’s cloth pads. No straps and belts. Okay I am giving away my age here. But I do remember the nurse showing us these  Cloth pads today are pretty, come with liners that you can remove and replace and come in sizes, suitable for light flow, heavy flow and overnight.

Menstrual CupIs a medical grade silicone cup. It catches the flow. These cups are shaped like a large cervical cap, and worn somewhat lower in the vagina than a cervical cap would be. They are folded twice lengthwise to insert, and then released, forming a suction that holds it in place. To remove, use the tab on the bottom to get hold of it, and pinch the bottom to release the suction. Rinse out, or wipe out with toilet paper, and reinsert. Empty several times a day, depending on your flow. Once you get the hang of it, they leak rarely. If you are having trouble with leaks try: putting the cup higher up, being careful not to let it unfold until it’s in the position you want, moistening the rim with a little water, and giving it a circular twist once it’s in place. Holds one fluid ounce, often compared to a super-plus tampon. Comes in two sizes, before childbirth and after childbirth/after age 30. There are several manufacturers. The Keeper, is a rubber one and has been around the longest. For those with latex allergies, go for a silicone one (Diva Cup, Moon Cup, or Lunette). They can all be sanitized between uses in a mild vinegar solution.
Instead Soft cup. If the reusable cups are like big cervical cap, this is like a disposable diaphragm. One lasts 12 hours. The Instead is one-size-fits-all. Insert by folding once lengthwise, and pushing up and back, so it rests over the cervix and is held in place by the pubic bone. The special medical plastic is supposed to mold to the vagina's contours inside. Remove by hooking a finger under the rim and drawing out. Empty and dispose of blood.

Natural Sea Sponge Tampons  When I came across these in my research I had a doh moment. It makes perfect sense. These tampons are made from "sea sponges" that naturally grow in the oceans and can be cultivated and harvested like any "land crop." They are harvested, cleaned and cut to shape. Unlike a tampon it can be used over and over again. You will need to disinfect it before using it again.  Added benefits of s sea sponge tampons are that they do not dry out your vagina and if the fit is not quite right you can customize it by trimming the tampon yourself.

Natural and Organic Feminine ProductsThere are some natural fiber and organic products out there. Yes they do cost more but they do not contain dioxins.

Benefits to Making Your Period Green
Women who change to a more natural period will often discover that they experience fewer cramps. This may be  due to the fact that tampons actively drawn blood out. As someone who has suffered from cramps that can range from severe to debilitating at times this is a definite benefit.
You will save money.  Yes these products do cost more to start. However,if you consider that the average woman menstruates for ? years and you multiply that by $8-12 a month for supplies the savings begin to add up in about year 2. And no one says you have to go out and get all the supplies in the same month. You can slowly build your stash or if you are crafty make your own.
You save the environment. Feminine disposable product by all rights should not be flushed down the toilet. Ever see those signs in public women’s bathrooms? Come on, I know you have. But what do you usually do with a tampon? That’s right. You flush it.  Municipal waste water in most parts of the US goes to the waste water treatment plant. Just think about that. I am getting the hebby jebbies just thinking about tampons floating in the water. If you don’t flush your feminine hygiene items down the toilet but instead put them in the trash, keep in mind that they will be going to the landfill where it will take 100’s of years to decompose.


Patti @ Jazzy Mama said...

I switched to cloth diapers for my 3rd baby, but I used disposable menstrual pads for my post-partum bleeding. Crazy, eh?

When my fourth was born I bought a huge quantity of cloth menstrual pads and now that I have used them I would NEVER go back to disposables and tampons. In fact, my fertility just returned at 12 months post partum and I actually LOOK FORWARD to using my pretty pads!

As the mother of 3 daughters, I can say that I will not be introducing their bodies to disposable pads when the time comes.

And I intend to try the menstrual cup which I've heard is very convenient and easy to use.

This was an interesting post--I enjoyed reading about the harmful effects of pads (although I switched because cotton flannel is just so SOFT in the post-partum days!)

Eden Angel said...

I've used organic pads but they were pretty bad to be honest. I heard really great things about the menstrual cup but from what I read (probably on the mooncup website, I can't remember) they can break the hymen like tampons so they're not suitable for everyone.

Debbie said...

My family have made their own pads out of old towels and diaper flannel. I started using them because store bought pad made me itch.

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