Go Against the Flow

Leanne Tory-Murphy Feb 10, 2005

A woman will use an estimated 10,000 disposable tampons or pads in her lifetime. In addition to the environmental concerns raised by the waste, there are also disturbing health concerns to consider. All of the major brands contain rayon, a pulp product made only through a chlorine-based bleaching process. Fiber loss from rayon, which can occur through the use of tampons, has been traced to Toxic Shock Syndrome and can damage a woman’s vagina by causing ulceration and peeling of the mucous membrane. So what are some alternatives?

Sea Sponges

Very comfortable and easy to take care of. Disinfect the sponges by boiling them before the first use as well as between cycles. During your period you should take them out every three hours or so depending on your flow, rinse in water and reinsert. Use your fingers, or add a piece of dental floss for easier removal. Sea sponges can be used for up to two years. Available at health food stores and pharmacies.

The Keeper

This rubber cup catches menstrual blood internally. Created in the 1930s, it never gained popularity due to the tampon industry’s advertising strategies, which suggested that reinserting something into the vagina is unhealthy. The Keeper is safer than tampons because it doesn’t absorb natural bodily fluids or disrupt the vaginal ecosystem. It requires no special care. You simply rinse it out with water every few hours and reinsert. The Keeper can last up to 10 years.

The Diva Cup

An alternative to the Keeper for those allergic to rubber. It is latex-free and made of a soft medical grade silicone.

Reusable Pads

Pads made out of cloth. You can make them by sewing several layers of soft fabric such as flannel together. An internet search for ‘menstrual pad pattern’ will yield plenty of instructions to guide you. If you’re not up to the challenge, you can always buy reusable pads.,,

100% Cotton Tampons

(unbleached or hydrogen peroxide bleached)

If you find that tampons suit you best, 100 percent cotton unbleached or hydrogen peroxide bleached tampons are the way to go. They can be found at healthfood stores and some pharmacies.

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