PERIOD IN PEACE...
I remember my initial reaction to my first period, seeing the 'stain' didn't faze me at all because the majority of my friends already had this experience (late starter at 14 years old). I marched confidently to my father to ask for money to buy pads. The pads aka nappies, felt like a pillow between my thighs! I look back now and think, what an experience!
Fast forward to 2020 and it’s a good time to be alive with a period! There are so many options available to us, from solutions like menstrual cups and period panties to organic 'one time' use or reusable products. In addition these days, as we've become more health and environmentally conscious, we worry and ask questions like what are the safest products available to me, is this made from a sustainable source? In addition, financial questions also play on our minds as we check our receipts after a visit to our local store and are reminded of the ‘tampon tax’ every month (Shout out to Tesco and Coop supermarkets who pay on our behalf!).
So, if you're keen to switch up your period care for products that are kind to your body, our planet and your wallet, here is a quick low down of the options available out there:
Reusable menstrual cups are inserted into the vagina to collect blood and once full, emptied out and cleaned. Menstrual Cups can hold one to two ounces, the equivalent of three to six tampons. These products are environmentally friendly; comfortable to use and help save tons of money (one-time investment every 5 years-ish). Most cups can be left in longer than about 12 hours and if you like your sporting activities, they shouldn’t let you down, water sports inclusive.
They are often made from silicone but some such as Hello Cup are made from medical grade thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) and these contain no rubber, latex, BPAs, heavy metals or other nasties.
It can however take time to find the right fit, and you might need to go through a couple of cups to find your match (but most companies have size guides to help you out.); it takes a few tries to get used to insertion and removal and it can get a little messy. Our friends at Hello Cup advise that whilst it's very clean using a cup, because blood is captured inside the cup, when you're getting the hang of things and nailing your technique, you might find it's a bit messy - but not messy like the ‘elevator scene from The Shining.’They also say you should be able to use a menstrual cup if you have an IUD but you should talk to your doctor before using a cup if you have an IUD or a low-lying cervix.
Organic tampons, pads and panty liners:
Medical experts remind us that the vagina is a thin, mucous membrane that can absorb toxins and chemicals more easily than your hearty outer skin. For this reason, some women might prefer to use organic tampons to limit their exposure to non-organic things, like pesticides and dyes. The main difference between organic options and other, store-bought options comes down to the material. A truly organic tampon is made of 100% cotton, that hasn't been exposed to pesticides or dyes. Whereas the store-bought tampons are made from a mix of rayon and chlorine-bleached cotton which are the two things that are good at absorbing and holding onto blood but not great for our health as chlorine bleached products can create toxic dioxin. Published reports suggest that even trace dioxin levels may be linked to reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.
Good quality organic tampons such as the ones available from Flo, go a little farther in that their cotton tampons are biodegradable, sanitised naturally with oxygen and are chlorine-free. Flo Organic tampons also come in pint-sized ice cream containers that are most definitely more fun for your bathroom shelf than your regular boxed tampons.
Similar to tampons, organic versions of pads are also now widely available. Usually made of 100% cotton or natural bamboo, these pads are unlike conventional sanitary pads which can be made of 95% plastic, the equivalent of about four plastic bags! Organic pads are also good for us as they are sustainable, reliable, hypoallergenic. Flo's version of organic pads are made with 100% organic bamboo certified by Oeko-Tex and Ecocert, all are individually-wrapped in biodegradable plant-based wrappers. If you’d like to know more about the difference between organic and conventional pads, this video compares organic vs standard regular pads and the findings are quite shocking!
Period panties are just as sustainable as menstrual cups. These period panties are designed to be worn without tampons or pads, and are meant to soak up menstrual blood while still keeping you as dry as possible and people who’ve reviewed them, swear that the majority don't leak and so no worries there.
Now that we’ve considered the period solutions available to us, which one does one choose? Well, I guess the answer is the one that is aligned with your values and will give you the comfort you need during your time of the month. Many women find a combination of methods works best. For instance menstrual cups in public and period panties at home or reusable pads overnight and organic tampons during the day; organic tampons during activities and organic pads the rest of the time as so forth, you get the gist..😉
Whichever options you choose, we hope you practice some self care and you're at peace during your next cycle.