I thought about that title for a while, hopefully not offending anyone by excluding you gentlemen while still making the subject clear enough! Gentlemen, hold your ears and close your eyes… That is, unless you are interested in passing on this info to your wives and girlfriends!
I received a wonderful question from Emily a few weeks ago:
One thing that I’ve been wondering about is how you deal with menstrual issues…. Assuming that you have periods, do you use/have you considered cloth pads, menstrual cups, or anything else along that vein? Even if you, personally, don’t use these types of products, they may still be worth a mention as fairly healthy and environmentally-conscious alternatives to typical tampons and pads.
Thank you for asking Emily!
For Your Flow
I have tried just about everything. Here are the results of years of experiments:
Organic Cotton Tampons
These are great if you are not yet ready for a big switch, but you are ready to get the toxins out of your body. Conventionally grown cotton is FULL of pesticides, and you just don’t want those in your body. And I know this sounds crazy, but when I switched to organic, my cramps got better – it was the weirdest thing!
My favorite is Natracare – they come in several sizes, and were the first ones readily available here in the US. Seventh Generation makes them now as well, though I haven’t tried them. I go applicator free, because I can’t stand wasting the paper. I just wash my hands before and after.
Chemical-Free or Chlorine-Free Pads
I am not really a pad person, because it seems like so much product that goes to waste. Also they don’t work all that well for me (organic or no) – I never have found one that protects well enough, even with wings! But I have tried these once or twice in a pinch. Again, Natracare makes plastic-free, chemical-free pads from plant cellulose. Seventh Generation makes a chlorine-free pad – but it does contain silicone.
Handmade Cloth Pads
I’m sure at one point or another, we have all used a cloth in an emergency, haven’t we? There are loads of instructions for how to make good ones yourself online, but the principle is the same:
Purchased Cloth Pads
You can buy those same cloth pads if you don’t like or don’t have time to sew. Here are some good places to purchase them:
This is my method of choice. Love, love, love them! So nice. They can last up to 12 hours without needing to be removed, so there is no need to change it at work. They last at least a year – if you keep it regularly cleaned you can probably make it last quite a bit longer. I’ve used my Diva Cup for about 2 years now, and LOVE it.
I’ve only used the Diva Cup. It comes in 2 sizes, based on your age and whether or not you’ve given birth (basically, our muscles tend to get a little less elastic and our hips get a little bigger). I am well over 30 and started out using the smaller one because I hadn’t had children, but I just bought my second cup in the larger size and like it better. It’s not a whole lot different, but it is more comfortable actually.
You can also try The Keeper – I’ve heard good things but have not tried it.
For The Cleaning
I received an email recently asking how to remove stains from cloth pads and clothing – thanks to Jean for asking this question!
Matt’s mother is a nurse, and taught me the most amazing trick a few years ago. Being a nurse, she has had to clean up her fair share of blood on clothing. The trick?
- If it’s a little bit, dampen a cloth with straight hydrogen peroxide and dab it on the clothing. You’ll still be able to wear the clothing.
- If it’s a lot, poor straight hydrogen peroxide on the spot and leave it for several hours. It doesn’t matter if it’s color or white fabric, this works on both types, and I have never found a fabric that this ruined.
You can buy hydrogen peroxide in any pharmacy, in the first aid section. It’s usually in a dark brown bottle. Or you can buy it in a health food store in the non-chlorine bleach section – it’s exactly the same thing! There might be a slight variation in the percentage of hydrogen peroxide in each – don’t worry about the difference, I use both interchangeably.
For Reusable Pads
Wash them in hot water, with detergent and 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide. If you left them sitting out for a while, soak them in a bowl full of hydrogen peroxide mixed with water (1:6).
For Reusable Cups
Clean each time you change it (at least twice per day), and just use warm water and mild hand soap. After your cycle, wash and rinse the cup, and then submerge it in a pan of boiling water for 20 minutes to sterilize it. Then store it in a clean place – the Diva Cup comes with a little pouch you can store it in.
What Do You Use?