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Rethinking Your Period: Choosing Healthier Feminine Care Products

The following post is from Emily of Live Renewed: Rethinking Your Period: Choosing Healthier Feminine Care Products

So let’s chat like sisters over coffee today, ’cause this is a pretty private and personal topic. And yet, because it’s something most of us as women (if you’re a man that’s your cue to stop reading!), live with on a monthly basis, that makes it something really important to discuss, even if it might be a little uncomfortable. I’m okay with being uncomfortable because I think it’s that important.

So, the question is, what kind of Feminine Care products do you usually use during your period? Have you ever considered whether those products are safe to use in your most sensitive area? What symptoms do you have during your period? And do you think there could possibly be a connection?

My Story

I was always a tampon girl. I helped teach swimming lessons the summer I got my first period, so I had to start with them right away. I thought they we’re more comfortable than pads, so I used them for most of my grown-up girl life, until I started having babies.

In risking TMI, I will tell you that I suffered with extremely heavy flows and almost unbearable cramps from high school all the way through my adult years. My period was irregular, and often long. After a year and a half of trying to get pregnant for the first time, I was diagnosed with a cyst on my ovary the size of an orange. I had surgery to remove the cyst, and finally got pregnant six months later.

Like many families, our journey toward a more green and and natural lifestyle began when I was pregnant with our first daughter. On the cloth diapering forums I was a part of, I heard about “mama cloth”, or using cloth pads instead of disposable during your period, but I wasn’t ready to make the jump. I got pregnant for the second time quickly and easily when my daughter was just 11 months old. So I didn’t have too much time in between to have a monthly cycle again.

Rethinking Your Period: Choosing Healthier Feminine Care Products at

Finally, 14 months after my son was born, my cycle returned and I knew it was time to make the change. I purchased some cloth pads and a Diva Cup and I have never looked back. While I used to think that reusable cloth pads and reusable cup were gross, now I think that the itchy, bunchy, paper and plastic disposable pads and tampons are messy, uncomfortable and gross!

My cycle returned very early after the birth of my third child last June, and I’ve been happily using my cloth pads, diva cup and occasionally organic cotton disposable pads, and I finally realized the biggest change that has happened since I made the switch. No more cramps and lighter periods! My cramps have completely and totally disappeared! Along with most of the other symptoms that used to plague me during my period – exhaustion, headaches, and just a general sick feeling.

Now, this is just my personal experience, but if you are suffering from unwanted and painful symptoms during your period, I would really encourage you to try making the switch to reusable menstrual products and see if it makes a difference for you too.

Rethinking Your Period: Choosing Healthier Feminine Care Products at
source: brad cerenzia

After all, there are some pretty strong reasons to avoid using conventional feminine care hygiene products:

They’re made with chemicals and synthetic materials.

Conventional pads and tampons are made from cotton, which requires more pesticides to produce than any other major crop, as well as synthetic plastics made from petrochemicals. These materials are then bleached with chlorine bleach, which can leave traces of dioxin in them, one of the most toxic substances in our environment, in them.

All of this can make pads and tampons very irritating, and is not really something I want to be putting in my most sensitive body areas.

They can inhibit flow.

One of the concerns I have read regarding conventional pads and tampons is that instead of absorbing menstrual flow, they can actually inhibit the flow and tissue from leaving the body. I’m definitely not a doctor or scientist, but I have to wonder if this is not one of the reasons that so many women suffer from painful cramping, and are struggling with endometriosis and possibly infertility?

They’re expensive.

The average American woman will have around 450 periods in her lifetime and use around 11,000 tampons (70% of women use tampons during their period). Add up the cost of buying disposable tampons and pads for each of those periods and that’s quite a large amount of money!

So why not make the change to feminine care hygiene products that are better for your health, for the environment and will save you money in the long run?

Rethinking Your Period: Choosing Healthier Feminine Care Products at
source: monkeybunns

So what are the alternative options for green and natural feminine care? 

Reusable Menstrual Cup

Options include the Diva Cup, Keeper and Moon Cup. A menstrual cup is the best alternative for women who are used to using tampons. They catch the flow inside your body in a small cup you then empty and reinsert. It’s perfect for situations like swimming, sports and exercise, and of course, every day use. For more information, you can read more about Mandi’s experience with the Diva Cup.

Cloth Pads

There are so many different brands of cloth pads available these days and they have so many advantages:

  • Soft and comfortable to wear, non-irritating.
  • Less odor – because they don’t contain synthetic materials and fragrances.
  • Very absorbent, so you may not need to change as often as traditional pads.
  • They are washed and reused, saving on waste and saving money on purchasing disposable products.

Organic Cotton Disposable Products

I still sometimes use disposable feminine care products, for example, when traveling for their convenience. Several companies offer organic cotton products free from chlorine bleach that are absorbent and non-irritating, such as Maxim HygieneNaturacare, and Seventh Generation. While these products are often more expensive than conventional feminine care products, if used sparingly to supplement a menstrual cup and cloth pads, you will still save money in the long run.

Now it’s your turn! Please share your story with us in the comments if you’ve made the switch to reusable and non-toxic feminine care products and experienced a decrease in your period symptoms.

Why do you use reusable and non-toxic menstrual care products? If you haven’t made the switch yet, do you have any questions or concerns I can answer for you? 

Emily McClements strives to live with compassion and caring for creation in a way that will impact the world. She is a blessed wife and mama to three young children, and blogs about her family’s journey toward natural and simple living at Live Renewed.