Which Menstrual Products work for you?
It is one of my great passions in life to support women and other menstruating folks to love and embrace our wombs and cycles. One aspect of embracing our menstruation is figuring out what menstrual products work for you! Many people ask my opinions and recommendations, so here they are! Our choice in menstrual products impacts our menstrual health, as well as the health of our planet. Each one feeds the other, right?!
On average, in her lifetime, a women will use over 14,000 tampons, or a comparable number of pads. For one woman this cost is approximately, $3,000, contributing to a $3 billion industry. An interesting and little known fact about tampons is that the FDA considers them a medical device which allows them to hold a lower quality standard than cosmetics. Because of this, it is not required to list the ingredients on the package. Ironically tampons are also considered a luxury item, and subjected to "luxury tax". When we combine the low standard of quality with the high price and tax, it stands to reason that many women purchase conventional pads and tampons.
How do pads and tampons harm us?
The problem here is that conventional tampons and pads contain carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and allergens such as:
- Pesticide residues
- Unnatural Chemical Fragrances
The vaginal tissue is densely populated with blood vessels, nerve endings and lymph tissue. This means our vaginas, yonis, p()ssies are comprised of highly absorptive tissue.
My least favorite menstrual products and why
Understanding our options, including the ones I do not recommend and why, allows us to make truly informed choices about our healthcare. Some of my recommendations are based on myself and other highly sensitive vaginas I have encountered over the years. Some of you may not identify as being that sensitive to fragrances or chemicals. I see the sensitive ones as canaries in the coal mines, so let it be information to interpret as you see fit.
Many people like tampons because they are so absorptive. For this reason, women who bleed heavily prefer tampons. Many women and other menstruating folks also like that tampons do not create a "bulge" in the crotch and are relatively easy to deal with in public restrooms.
Here are the downsides:
- They are so incredibly absorptive that they increase vaginal dryness, absorbing our natural, vaginal lubrication. This can create irritation and discomfort in the area, especially towards the end of menstruation.
- Menstruation is a time of outflow. My teacher Rosita Arvigo has always recommended against inserting ANYTHING into the vagina during menstruation. We want to allow the outflow, not block it in any way. This is particularly important for anyone experiencing symptoms of a displaced uterus or symptoms of congestion in the pelvis.
- Though women who bleed heavily like tampons, often times heavy bleeding is a symptom of a hormone balance. Because of the endocrine disrupting effect of the chemicals in conventional tampons, they can exacerbate hormone imbalance.
Pads have certainly evolved over the years. Have you ever seen photos of the sanitary pad belts from the 1950s?! As long as you go organic, these can be a good option. They are easy to deal with in public restrooms or if you are going to be on the go. As with tampons, the cotton can be so absorbent that it can cause some vaginal dryness. Also, even the organic pads contain adhesives that can be an irritant to especially sensitive yonis. They also contribute so much waste to the landfills. I have to admit though, I keep a spare box in my car for emergencies!
If they work for you, great! They work for some. It's great to be able to simply rinse and reuse on the go, without carrying extra things around! That works for some. Some folks react really negatively to sea sponges. I have not seen any good studies on this yet. People who have tended towards inflammatory conditions in the pelvis, like yeast infections, bladder infections, bacterial vaginosis and pelvic pain of all sorts, do not do well with sea sponges. I have seen a number of people
These can be a fine choice if you have absolutely easeful, perfect periods. If you struggle with cramps, PMS or any other discomforts around your moontime, I do not recommend menstrual cups. In order to remove them, one must break the suction. This process adds strain to the uterus and the uterine ligaments. Difficult menstruation is often related to a uterus that is not in in alignment, so adding stress to the ligaments during the most tender time of the month would be contraindicated. Personally, I do have a cup, and I like it for traveling and camping as an alternative to reusable cloth pads.
My absolute favorite menstrual products for the highly sensitive p()ssy
Reusable Cloth Pads
These are one of my personal favorites. I personally prefer to keep my waste footprint to a minimum. On average, a woman uses 11,000 pads in her lifetime. That occupies significant real estate in a dump somewhere. Some people do not like these because, though they are easy to change in a bathroom, what to do with them for the day if you are at work for 8 hours?! That's understandable, though keeping a bag in your purse is always an option. My favorite brand is Party In My Pants.
I started with Thinx because they were the main "name" brand. I and many I know have had labial irritation from Thinx. As I dug deeper with Thinx, I found some evidence based research that indicated PFAS and other harmful chemicals in Thinx. Rael is another company I have tried, and I really like their period panties. No irritation, and comfy cozy!