Welcome back! If you are just joining us, please do a quick read of yesterday’s post. You know, the one where I go into my deepest, inner-most feelings about my period. (Guys, this is another ladies post. Ladies, sorry if this is TMI even for you.)
So, there I was… at the brink of despair wondering how I could go on using my convenient, mainstream tampons knowing that there might be mold in them! In my flurry of fear I began researching. Maybe my tampons weren’t that bad. Maybe I could get by with a simple switch to a non-applicator version so I could always see the thing before inserting it.
Bad move, Robin. Bad move. Instead of reassurance I learned the following about tampons:
- Most tampons are made from a cotton or rayon-cotton blend. Rayon is a synthetic fiber that is made from wood pulp. It is highly absorbent.
- Conventionally grown cotton may have been bio-engineered and most likely grown with a mess of pesticides, fertilizers and fungicides.
- Both of these fibers undergo a bleaching process before being made into tampons and even though this process has been improved to try and eliminate dioxins, trace levels are still being found.
What are Dioxins? I’m glad you asked:
Dioxins are an environmental pollutant and known carcinogenic by product of bleaching and manufacturing processes. It is now being found in our soil, air and water. According to the FDA, this may explain how rayon and cotton may always contain some dioxin. Some groups think even the improved bleaching techniques may contribute to some of the dioxins. Of course, the FDA says that levels of dioxin are so low there is no a cause for concern. But some doctor’s and others are not so sure. The concern is in the cumulative effect of even tiny amounts of dioxins coming in to contact month after month with a very delicate part of our body (1).
Rayon is another tampon danger. Derived from wood pulp, it is also commonly chlorine-bleached and therefore may contain dioxins. Tiny fibers are often left behind in the vagina, causing, at the very least, irritation, and possibly more. Because rayon is so absorbent, women may leave tampons in longer than they ideally should, opening the door for bacterial growth and toxic shock syndrome (2).
Hmmm… this was not what I wanted to hear.
Finally, I gave in to my situation. I knew I wasn’t alone in thinking tampons are bad. Defeated by the information in front of me, I started looking up “safer” option. Here’s where my sleuthing skills took me:
My first instinct was to check out organic, chlorine free tampons (like these ones). This was definitely a better alternative. But honestly, I just couldn’t get the image of a landfill full of my monthly waste out my mind. Nor did I really want to spend more money than I already was on such an annoying part of being a woman. Next.
I read up a little bit on reusable organic cotton pads. Despite the fact that lots of women seem to enjoy these products, I just couldn’t let go of the idea of a more messy monthly experience. It seemed like more laundry and more dealing with that gross stuff that I could previously just toss away. Plus, I hate wearing pads. They feel like women diapers that often make me question every move I make for fear of leaking my woman goods to the world. I especially couldn’t handle the thought of using them throughout the night. No thank you.
I stopped looking for a bit. To be honest, I was scared. Frightened by where this new information and research was taking me. I knew what was going to happen. I just didn’t want to go there, yet. I needed a break.
I got up, did some yoga. Breathed in some clean air. And pictured myself in a happy place.
All that body lovin’ goodness just pushed me over the edge. And before I knew it was reading hundreds of reviews looking for the “perfect” menstrual cup.
The dreaded menstrual cup
I mean, just look at this thing. Doesn’t it just look awkward and messy and uncomfortable? Who wants to shove a cup… up there!? WHO!? Not me.
Sure, the pro’s seemed pretty awesome:
- Nothing to throw away meaning it’s way eco-friendly
- No risk of TSS
- No toxic materials getting absorbed by my precious female tissue
- No threat of moldy surprises
- One time cost since it will last for years (hello extra $$$ in my wallet!)
- You can wear it for 8 – 12 hours before starting over
- You can sleep easily, move freely
- Will not encourage bacterial transfer from the anal area as pads can
- Does not dry the vaginal wall or interrupt the natural lubrication process
That’s a pretty awesome list, don’t you think? It sure is! But I couldn’t get past the thought of sticking a cup up you-know-where.
Here’s the thing: I read review after review and everyone seemed to like their experience with the cup. The one thing I kept reading was “give it time. Give it three months and you will love it.”
I purchased a menstrual cup. ME!?
When it came in the mail I ignored it for a week. My husband was all sorts of funny telling me “congrats” on my purchase. I finally pulled the thing out of the box, sterilized it, and secretly hoped that my period wouldn’t come so I wouldn’t have to try it. I didn’t have a lot of faith that this would be a good fit for me.
“I’m going to try it for three months before I finally give up and hate it. I know I will hate it.” This is what I told my husband.
Friday the 13th.
Wouldn’t you know it…. my monthly visitor came on Friday the 13th. Yippee. Thankfully the night before I had researched different folds for said cup. I came across my favorite, the origami fold. (gulp) Here goes nothing….
There were birds all around, but I never heard them singing….
…no I never heard them at all til’ there was youuuuuuuu!
Wow! Guess what? It wasn’t as bulky or awkward as I thought it would be. It was way easier than I had prepared myself for. By the second day it was a no-brainer. I love this thing! No seriously, I do!
It’s cleaner. (This surprised me).
I wore it for 10 hours at night with no problem.
In fact, it was a whole lot nicer than my tampons. You can wear it on heavy days or light days. For me, I had way less leaking problems than with tampons (I actually purchased a few reusable organic pads as a back up panty liner… love those, too.)
An unexpected side effect
Another thing I noticed was that I didn’t experience my normal cramping or bloating. My period was lighter and shorter than usual. I don’t know if this has anything to do with the product, but I did read other reviewers who noticed similar things.
To top off my whole experience, it will save me money and help me save the planet! All of a sudden I didn’t feel like I was compromising my health or my convenience. Am I in love my period now? No. Still glad to see it end. BUT I am be glad I saw that moldy tampon. I don’t usually like change that is motivated by fear, but in this case it ended up getting me on a better road.
What about you? Would you (or do you) use a menstrual cup? What do you think? What questions do you have about it?