This article is for the ladies mainly! I am not one to discriminate against men, but let’s just assume that the majority of readers for this will be the fairer sex… it has to do with that special time of the month!
Now that we have the women of the world reading and the men have clicked off to read about something else, let’s talk about our menstrual cycle (and yes – this is definitely going to be over-sharing time, but it is the internet so let’s speak frankly here!!).
This is an ongoing journey for me since a pap smear proved to have results of CINII which is moderate cervical dysplasia (luckily this range is only moderate!). I have undergone several more pap smears and have had laser removal of the cells but now have 6 monthly pap smears which will become yearly. This is a big thing for any woman to discover and during this time I have evaluated my life and how I treat my body. I read up on eating better, stress reduction, better fitness, I took the Gardasil injections (I had absolutely no negative effects except a sore arm) and the main thing I did was read up about tampons and sanitary napkins.
There has been no evidence to suggest that either one contributes to cervical dysplasia or cervical cancer but after a the Laser Treatment the doctor told me no sex, no tampons for the 2 weeks following while my cervix healed I took this as a point to look for other options. I figured that tampons were just not natural in my body and I needed an alternative!
So it may not have started out as the most greenest endeavors but it has turned into one!
The bad things about tampons and sanitary napkins is according to the information on menstruation.com.au
16800 Pads or Tampons per Lifetime
The average woman will use 16,800 pads or tampons in her lifetime. Just take a moment to imagine a pile of pads / tampons that big. Huge isn’t it?
The National Women’s Health Network, estimate that in the United States alone, over 12 billion pads and 7 million tampons are used once and disposed of every year. They take a very long time to break down and release toxic chemicals into the earth.
SHOCKING! They also have on their site a pad calculator to help you work out how many you use and how many that will be over a lifetime! Plus the cost factors of tampons and sanitary napkins is quite high. I am frugal gal, but unfortunately couldn’t skimp and buy the cheap brand and would militantly buy the cotton and no bleach products. So all up, it is costly to be a lady!
Luckily there are other options, and women have been using these for centuries!
Cloth Menstrual Pads – these as exactly what they say. They are your typical pads but made of washable cloth. You use and then wash them and then you are ready to go the next month. There are tons of these available on the net, Etsy is a huge stockist of locally made cloth menstrual pads or you can purchase store made ones online.
Sea Sponge Tampons – yes these are sea sponges! They are completely natural reusable sea sponge tampons containing no Dioxin or synthetic fibers. Sustainably harvested and reusable for three to six months or more.
Sea sponges are reusable so they won’t pile up in landfills month after month like disposable tampons. And, when you are ready to dispose of them, they’re biodegradable and may therefore be composted.
Menstrual Cups -A menstrual cup is form of reusable menstrual protection, inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual fluids. Once in place it forms a seal, preventing blood flowing out of the vagina by collecting it in its “cup” shaped reservoir. Unlike a tampon which absorbs the blood along with the vagina’s natural secretions, a menstrual cup simply holds the fluids until you remove it – so they do not dry out the vagina and do not hold the TSS risk that tampons do. They hold around 20-30ml, which is for most women will cope with a full day without emptying.
A great resource of information is http://labyrinth.net.au/~obsidian/clothpads/Cups.html
There are a range of these devices on the market worldwide but unfortunately are not for sale in Australia as yet due being deemed a medical device and has not been approved. This may be so, but there are some stores that DO stock them, and there are a lot of international websites that stock them worldwide!! HOORAY!
If you do wish to keep using your tampons and sanitary napkins, here is a great article from treehugger about tampons being better for the environment than your sanitary napkins. A little food for thought perhaps!
I am yet to try to cup device but have mailed away and will have a in depth review all of my own, but I do encourage women to comment about their experience, both GOOD and BAD about using these and other advice for women. Without researching on the internet I would never have found these and never would have known. I was quite literally in the dark about this until I did some research on how to help recovery from Laser Treatment.
So let me know your stories, or any advice! I can only speak from my own experience and I am not a doctor, so please speak to your doctor if you have any concerns or medical queries.
Images are from GladRags – They have a WEALTH of good information as well so check them out.