Are you a woman out there facing the inconveniences of conventional tampons and pads? I understand that it can be a frustrating experience when some things that are very necessary turn out to be potentially harmful to your health. Worryingly, the average American woman uses almost 17,000 tampons in her lifetime.
As such, it is very important that women everywhere get to know the actual truth behind these female hygiene products. That is why I will discuss the issues facing tampons and sanitary pads, and why you should opt for natural and cost effective alternatives such as natural organic tampons, reusable pads or menstrual cups.
The problems with tampons & pads
For many women, you already know that regular use of tampons is not recommended. One of the main reasons for this is that they dry out the vaginal mucosa. You might be aware of a lot of tampons in the market that offer you high or maximum absorbency for increased comfort.
It is wise to avoid the traps of the marketing gimmicks. These high absorbency tampons promote the spread of streptococcus, staphylococcus and other harmful bacteria. These bacteria can cause a life threatening infection called toxic shock syndrome (TSS).
Toxic shock syndrome historically has been associated primarily with the use of superabsorbent tampons. However, since manufacturers pulled certain types of tampons off the market, the incidence of toxic shock syndrome in menstruating women has declined (source).
Although it is relatively rare, you do not want to take your chances.
Sanitary pads bring the additional risk of plastic exposure. Most of the products contain toxic plastic compounds.
According to Dr. Mercola (source):
These chemicals can be easily absorbed into the body since the skin around the vagina is particularly thin and high vascular. Studies have shown that plastic exposure can result in cardiovascular problems, certain types of cancer and disruption of embryonic development. Moreover, the synthetic materials such as rayon or polyester used to manufacture the sanitary pads promote the retention of moisture and heat in the vaginal area.
The resulting lack of ventilation creates the optimum environment for the growth of fungus and bacteria. As a result you stand higher chances of contracting vaginal candidiasis (yeast infection), the most common genital infection.
Even the much more preferred female hygiene products made from cotton are not necessarily safe. The cotton can easily be contaminated in the growing or processing stages with pesticides and herbicides.
A study found that 85% of tampons were contaminated with glyphosate (an herbicide linked to cancer) and that number was 100% when cotton gauze products were tested!
Why switch to a menstrual cup?
Menstrual cups are steadily gaining popularity as the most preferred alternative to sanitary pads and tampons. There is definitely good reason for this and you should invest in them. Menstrual cups are basically soft cups that you place inside the vagina to collect your menstrual flows.
They have the benefit of being comfortable and re-usable. The Diva Cup is a highly recommended and popular menstrual cup that is made from medical grade silicon. It can be easily cleaned with a regular unscented soap.
Note: It is advisable not to clean menstrual cups with antibacterial soap. Doing so may kill the beneficial bacteria in the vagina.
The Diva cup is considered completely safe and it doesn’t carry the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome that tampons do. It can be safely worn for up to more than 12 hours.
Diva Cup offers two options you can choose from:
However, I want to mention that not all women find menstrual cups comfortable and prefer using reusable cotton pads instead. Some women find it painful while inserting menstrual cups into their vagina. Also, cleaning menstrual cups in public places may be a problem.
Are cotton pads a better alternative?
Also known as reusable cloth pads, these feminine hygiene products are ideal if you find menstruation cups or disposable pads uncomfortable. They are usually made of organic cotton, and they are very cost effective as they can last for about two years. I would recommend that you soak cotton pads immediately after use, wash them & dry them.
Reusable pads also don’t leak onto your undergarments. The only notable disadvantage of reusable cloth pads is that they feel bulkier than their disposable counterparts. Given their benefits, I know this is an inconvenience you can live with.
What about disposable organic pads & tampons?
This option is readily available to those women who would prefer to stand by the traditional disposable tampons and pads. It is often not easy to make the switch to menstrual cups or reusable pads and these provide a healthier natural alternative. The good news is that they are becoming widely available and they lack the harmful constituents of their artificial counterparts.
There are two major issues with using disposable natural pads and tampons. First, you face the recurrent cost of buying them on a monthly basis. Secondly, they are detrimental to the environment just like all disposable products.
However, it’s still a better option than traditional tampons and pads. Here is the brands I recommend:
It is important to note that most companies that deal with sanitary pads and tampons are not required to display the ingredients in their product. The best decision you will ever make is switching to natural products.
To my opinion, the best alternatives to regular tampons and pads are:
- Choice #1: menstrual cup
- Choice #2: reusable pads
- Choice #3: organic disposable cotton pads or tampons
They are made with natural materials so they are safer for use, and they reduce or eliminate waste and environmental chemicals as well.
Your choice is yours, but I think it’s really important to consider your health and the environmental impact when you buy these kinds of products!
What’s your opinion? Please feel free to comment and share your experiences with feminine hygiene products.