Oh Bloody Hell! (What every person with a uterus should know)

7 03 2017

83227d33-1410-4b7f-904a-3ee2c8469e7a-2060x1236Today tampons and pads are basic requirements for most women, and comprise a multi-billion dollar industry. The average American woman started menstruating around the ages of 10-14 (bookmark that for a conversation about why we start so much earlier now). The average age of menopause is around 50. So that adds up to somewhere around 430 months of your life where you are paying for products to get harvested, manufactured, marketed, and transported.

There are a lot of concerns about these products. Besides creating a monthly cost burden that adds up year after year, these disposable products are filling up landfills and sewers, and the manufacturing of them is polluting our planet. Not to mention the fact that there is NO LEGAL REQUIREMENT for companies to disclose exactly what they put in their products that touch your unmentionables. In the past, tampons even included asbestos, to make women bleed more, so they would buy more product.Yuck!

GO GREEN, SAVE MONEY!

There are a variety of more sustainable options out there, namely: reusable cups, reusable liners, and period panties.If you are new to these- welcome! Once you learn more about these great new options, you won’t regret it!

748cf2c3254def3bb51833f5b032608eThere are a lot of reservations about trying something new. Will it work? Will it feel different? Will I be required to wear a pin telling the world that I have an eco-friendly product in my pants? How do I know where to start?

 

PERIOD PANTIES

Let’s start with so-called “period panties.” These are recently becoming well known due to a strong marketing campaign. What’s all the fuss about?

Thinx is one brand, but there are several. The basic  idea is that it can be used in place of a tampon or pad, and keeps you dry and leak-free.

Is it like wearing a diaper? No. It feels slightly more substantial than normal underwear, but less than a swimsuit. I also expect that the heavier fabric will last longer than silky of thin undies. It’s also easy to wash (way easier than scrubbing the stains out of your favorite pair of lacy undies). And, as advertised- no embarrassing leaks!

 

CLOTH LINERS

Does $30 for a pair of underwear sound like a lot to you? We’ll talk more about actual cost over your lifetime later,  but you can also look at buying reusable cloth pads. Same concept, but you just velcro these into your regular underwear, then rinse it and wash it as you would normal underwear. I’ve not tried these, but there is more fabric to them, so I suspect it will feel a bit thicker. Still not frugal enough for you? You can even download patterns to sew your own reusable pads!

 

 

MENSTRUAL CUPS

What about those heavy flow days, or those of you who just prefer the internal products? Welcome to a world of wonder, my friends! Enter… the CUPS!!

 

I started using my first cup about 5 years ago, and let me tell you- it was a GAME CHANGER. As you can see, there are numerous brands and variations, but the basic concept is the same. You have a reusable (typically silicone) cup that you insert into your vagina just like a tampon. It opens up and creates a seal at the rim, catching all the blood flow. Once full (which takes way longer than tampons), you grip the ‘tail’ of the silicone, remove the cup, dump out the liquid in the toilet, clean of your hand with TP, and then reinsert it & go wash your hands.At the end of your cycle, you can boil it to sterilize it, or simply wash and rinse well.

My wife bought the Diva Cup first, and felt like it was too big (she’s petite), so she switched to the Luna brand and loves it. I personally like the Diva Cup, but it’s the only one I’ve tried. There are typically 2 sizes- 1 for smaller women, 2 for larger or post-birth women. Neither of us has given birth, and we both like the smaller size.

divacup5Is it weird? Are they comfortable? OMG- let’s talk! First of all, it looks big, but it’s easy to roll up and insert, and is not much bigger than a tampon. It was a little weird at first, but switching from tampons to the cup has noticeably reduced both of our menstrual cramps, and now I’m so used to it I barely even give it a thought. Your first cycle you may need to practice putting it in and pulling it out to find a sweet spot where it can do its job and not be felt. I usually know I’ve got a good position when I hear a slight suction sound as I pull it down slightly. But the best part is that you can go for HOURS longer than you could with anything else, and there’s no worry about Toxic Shock Syndrome like with tampons.

img_3536Isn’t it messy? Well, no messier than any applicator-free tampon. I was NOT accustomed to sticking my hand right up there, and I definitely had a mental stigma about doing this, but my desire to be rid of tampons was strong enough to at least give it a go. It’s easier in a private bathroom, but it’s also not hard to wipe off your hand in a stall and then go wash up in a public restroom. It took me some getting used to, but now I can’t imagine going back to tampons! I recently was caught traveling without my cup and had to use a friend’s tampons for 2 days. I could not believe how much more work it was (how quickly they bled through), and how many more accidents I had. Good riddance! You also no longer have to slyly hide your tampon or pad in your pocket to sneak to the bathroom every few hours, because- it’s already in there.

 

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Still not sure? Making excuses to avoid change? Here are some great reasons to make the switch:

  1. Better for travel!- You can’t be gallivanting across the globe and not be prepared for the inevitable ‘early period.’ Try finding emergency tampons in a small town in Thailand, and you’ll be sorely disappointed. Be having reusable products, you can travel worry free. (Don’t forget some feminine wipes too!)
  2. Surprisingly comfortable (& dry)- the cups are soft and flexible, and once you find the one you like, you’ll forget you’re even wearing it. As for the period panties, they feel dry and comfortable.
  3. il_fullxfull-1145260725_skyfMore natural- Your body knows what it’s doing, and shoving a wad of cotton to suck out all the moisture is definitely not natural! (Vaginal secretions are in there for a reason) Switching to any of these reusable products allows your body to function naturally, and therefore reduces your risks of things like Toxic Shock Syndrome, yeast infections, and other complications from desiccating your pussy.
  4. goodforplanetIt’s cheaper. No, really. Let’s do the math together, shall we? Let’s say you are a tampon girl, That’s roughly 240 tampons per year, or $120 per year, including some liners as backup. (Plus you pay extra taxes on what should be viewed as an essential item like groceries.) Disposable pads- Depending on whether you prefer to change multiple thinner liners or wear what feels like a diaper all day, your annual cost will be around $50. A reusable menstrual cup runs around $30, is easily washable, durable, flexible, and should last you 10 years. So take that cost and divide it over its 10 year lifetime, and you’re looking at just $3 a year! A washable luna pad is around $16, and should last as long around 5 years, but you’ll need several to get you through a cycle. The average cost per year, considering they last 5 years before you need to replace them, ends up costing around $25 per year. A DIY cloth liner is about $2 (if your labor is free). And period underwear like Thinx runs about $30, averaging around $12-30 per year (depending on how many pairs you use during your cycle).graph.jpg
  5. GirlAtSchoolYou are helping educate girls globally. It’s sad but true, that girls are routinely denied education because they lack basic access to menstrual supplies, so they are forced to stay home from school during their periods. By investing your dollars in products that give back to the global community, you are enabling a child to get her education, which ultimately helps her entire family. Just hear this story from Think founder:
    1. “…when I travelled to South Africa in 2010 for the World Cup. There, I met a 12 year-old girl in a rural area. I asked, “Why aren’t you in school?” and the girl quietly responded, “It’s my week of shame.” Upon my return, we discovered that 100 million girls around the world miss school just because they lack the sanitary supplies they need to manage their periods. “
  6. You’re saving the planet! The short version is this- cotton is one of the most chemically-intensive crops we grow, and all those pesticides and fungicides are going directly into the raw goods that make up your tampons and liners. Manufacturing disposable products uses energy, emits greenhouse gases, and leads to climate change. The amount of energy to create one reusable product is far less than what it takes to make hundreds of disposable ones. So go green and help improve our future!
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One response

7 03 2017
Rebecca

Love this! It makes so much sense to use reusable. There are so many options out there to fit any woman.

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