Once upon a time I used to just buy things that had pretty boxes and said they did a good job. I was ignorant to capitalism. Ignorant to toxins. I just had a naive worldview that people wouldn’t create terrible things just to make money. Especially not when it came to such a sensitive part of a woman’s body. Right? Wrong.
I used “normal” mainstream disposable menstrual product brands for a good portion of my menstruating life. I was introduced to feminine products by my mom. Those fancy boxes with plastic papers, applicators, and even scented! Gag. They were the only thing you could find in a big box store. We didn’t have natural-minded stores when I was younger. At least not near us.
Note: Writing that paragraph out illustrates how incredibly privileged a lot of us are that are reading this right now. This New York Times article gives some heartbreaking insight into places that don’t support women. Especially menstruating women. They are expected to bleed into their clothes. Or go sit in a cowshed for a week while they bleed. No access to hygiene products, or even toilets in many places. They are told not to cook while menstruating because they will poison the food. How devastating for young girls/women that reach puberty and see that as the end of all opportunity for them.
Toss out the mainstream menstrual products.
Why should you toss out the mainstream “popular” tampons and sanitary napkins?
To date, no research has been done on the health effects of these products. Tampons and sanitary napkin manufacturers aren’t required to disclose any of the components used in making the products because legislators (probably all men) have killed 9 bills that were introduced to try and make these companies accountable.
Read this article for greater detail on what has been found in tampons and pads. Carcinogens, pesticides, dioxines, and styrene which is a component in car tires. Styrene is a carcinogen and hormone disrupter. Not something I want in my vagina.
Manufacturers refuse to come clean about exactly what is in their products. What do they have to hide? Not being upfront about the components means they probably have plenty to hide. All of those toxins are absorbed through your vagina and enter directly into your bloodstream.
Alternative and natural menstrual products.
So what other options do we have? I know I don’t want to bleed all over everything. Menstruating isn’t something to be ashamed of. Without women bleeding, there would be no humanity. But as a proud woman, I still don’t want blood all over my clothes because it’s a right pain in the bum to wash out.
In our privileged, first-world society, we have tons of great alternative options to keep us comfortable during our cycle. Options that don’t compromise our health.
Menstrual cups are becoming very popular, which is awesome! They are reusable.
I know tons of women that swear by the cup. Many have said they can wear their cup for up to 12 hours. The only potential downside is if you are squeamish. You have to get in there and get a bit messy. I’ve tried one. It really works. I just prefer pads.
I only know one person that has tried Thinx. You can find them here. They said they did prevent leakage. Which is great! But if you are just free-bleeding into them, you’ll most definitely need a shower after taking them off. They did say that they would be an incredible choice as back up to another product. Rather than pad after pad which equals more waste.
If you cloth diaper your kid, this concept might not seem as horrifying. Or if our society wasn’t stuck in its patriarchal ways then none of this entire post would be horrifying.
I love the idea of cloth. You can buy organic, non-treated, naturally absorbent pads. Hemp is natural and freaking awesome. You aren’t putting anything toxic into your body. Or even anything mildly uncomfortable like a cup (although plenty say they don’t even notice it). And you aren’t throwing away piles of toxic waste every single month for a large portion of your life.
My favorite place to look for cloth pads, or “mama cloth,” is on etsy. You will be supporting a family directly and you will know exactly how your product is made.
Ok, so you still want disposable menstrual products
Organic pads and tampons
Sometimes you just want the ease of something disposable. You don’t have to buy the mainstream bleached poison-infused garbage (literally) that you see at big retailers.
There are some options that focus on organic, toxin-free, plastic-free components. When I buy these, I get them online or at natural-minded stores.
I love the brand Natracare. These tampons are great. You can also get them without the applicator for less waste, but I’m not that talented. And they are comfortable! I really love their company and ethics as well. You can visit their website here.
It’s such an empowering experience to learn about the products that you use and the companies that you support (or stop supporting) with your dollars. There are a ton of alternative and safe options when it comes to caring for our bodies while they are working hard doing what they are supposed to be doing. Love your body, period!