Alternative Menstrual Products
Each woman has her own reason for deciding to use alternative menstrual products. Perhaps she is concerned about the chemicals that disposable pads and tampons contain. Maybe she is looking for a more cost-effective menstrual product. Possibly she is doing her part to keep the environment healthy by choosing alternative menstrual products that can be reused. Or it could just be for all of the above reasons that she has decided to no longer use disposable pads or tampons. If you are interested in learning more about alternative menstral products, then read on.
Reusable Menstrual Pads
Reusable cloth pads have been around for centuries. Before disposable pads came along in the 1940s, women used cloths or rags to absorb their menstrual blood. When the cloth became saturated, a woman just replaced it with another and rinsed the soiled cloth so she could use it again. Unlike the days of yore, though, reusable menstrual pads of today's generation come in a variety of styles, absorbencies and even thickness to ensure that you have the coverage and the comfort you want.
Reusable cloth pads consist of a removable liner that sits in or on top of a holder. Unlike disposable menstrual pads, which use sticky adhesive to stay in place, the holder will have clips, buttons or Velcro to keep the pad in place. This means you don't have to worry about the pad sticking to your leg or pulling your hair when you try to change it. Generally, all manufacturers of reusable pads make their liners using 100% organic cotton that has not been exposed to or chemicals or processed with any bleach or chemicals.
Depending on how you wash and care for the pads, a reusable menstrual pad can last you anywhere from 3 to 10 years. Prices for the pads can vary (from approximately $12 to $20) depending on the brand and size of pad you select. Since you will need a few pads to get you through one cycle, the initial cost of using these pads may seem a bit expensive. But considering that they can be used for many years, the pads will pay for themselves within the first year of use.
A menstrual cup is a popular alternative to tampons. Worn internally, a menstral cup has a bell shape with a stem at the bottom that you use to pull the cup out. Measuring about two inches across, the opening of the cup forms a seal with your vaginal wall, allowing the cup to catch your menstrual flow.
In the past, menstrual cups were often made of latex. However, due to the irritation and discomfort experienced by women who have a latex allergy, most manufacturers now offer at least one version of a latex-free menstrual cup. One of the oldest and most well known brands is The Keeper. This menstrual cup is made from gum rubber and has been on the market since the early 1940s. Another popular name is the DivaCup, a great alternative menstrual solution that is made from medical grade silicone.
Although their large size can seem rather intimidating, menstrual cups are quite flexible therefore allowing you to bend and fold it when you insert it. On average, a menstrual cup can hold about one ounce of blood. You should empty the cup every 6 to 12 hours but be aware that it can be tricky to remove the cup without spilling when you first start using it. A menstrual cup will cost between $30 and $40 but can last for up to 10 years.
Silk Sea Sponge Tampons
Natural sea sponges work exactly like a tampon. They are worn internally, held in place by your vaginal muscles, and absorb your menstrual flow. Similar to tampons, they do need to be changed every few hours. However, unlike a tampon, you do not throw the sponge away. Instead, you either insert another dry sponge or rinse the one you were wearing and then reinsert it. Sea sponges do not have an applicator; instead you use your finger to insert the sponge.
Although silk sea sponges are harvested, they are done so in a sustainable and responsible fashion. The sponges are completely natural and biodegradable. They are not treated with any chemicals or bleach, so you will need to boil your sea sponge before you use it the first time. A package of 2 sea sponges will cost between $7 and $12 and can be reused for up to 8 months.
To chat with other women about menstrual product options or about any other issues you have with your period, check out our menstruation forum.