For many years women were limited to pads and tampons with no knowledge of the major health effects these products had on their lives. But thankfully we now have non-toxic alternatives to pads and tampons available to us.
More women are making the switch and it’s not hard to understand why.
Have you ever read the warning label on a tampon box? It reads “tampons are associated with toxic shock syndrome. It is a sudden and potentially fatal condition.” Not comforting words if you ask me.
I was scared when I first read that as a teen. As if having your period isn’t bad enough. The products you NEED are bad for you too!
Tampon companies are not required by law to tell you what their products are made of.
I went on using them though because I had no other option.
Now that I am an adult the push to use healthier products is thriving. One of my personal goals is to reduce toxic chemicals in the products I use in my home and with my family.
I searched for non-toxic alternatives to pads and tampons. While I did find that there are now companies that offer organic pads and tampons, I wanted to also reduce cost and my eco-footprint.
I discovered a menstrual cup and a menstrual disk – two non-toxic alternatives to pads and tampons.
This post will explain what I experienced when I decided to try them.
WHY TAMPONS ARE DANGEROUS AND TOXIC
Most traditional pads and tampons are bleached, made of synthetic fibers, plastic, dyes, and fragrances.
These chemicals are known to cause ovarian cancer, low fertility, and Toxic Shock Syndrome. According to femallay.com, the average woman uses about 17,000 pads/tampons within her lifetime. That is a whole bunch of yucky junk that our landfills are full of. Most pads/tampons are non-biodegradable products destroying the earth each and every day.
WHAT TAMPONS DO TO YOUR BODY
You don’t need to do a Google search to tell you just how uncomfortable tampons and pads can be. But some people don’t realize pads and tampons can breed bacteria and mess with your PH balance.
Have you ever pulled a tampon and felt dry, or light pain? That is because they can cause little tears inside your vaginal walls. OUCH!
Ever wonder why your cycle can have more of an odor? It is due to the products we are using. GROSS!
These are just a few things I experienced while using tampons. You may have experienced this too.
Pads can also have a similar effect. Wearing a pad on a hot day? Yeah, not fun.
WHAT IS A MENSTRUAL CUP?
A menstrual cup is a funnel-shaped cup that is made from medical-grade silicone. The cup is used by inserting it into your vagina during your cycle.
Throughout your cycle it collects liquid, you then remove the cup once it is full. After emptying the contents, you rinse it and reinsert it.
There are several companies that make menstrual cups now and the cups come in many different shapes and sizes. The sizes are dependent on the user’s comfort level as well as flow.
There are some cups that are made to be more flexible than others to increase comfort.
The cup I decided to try was the Lena cup.
MY LENA CUP EXPERIENCE
Unboxing the Lena cup it came with an adorable cloth bag and the cup. With easy to follow instructions, it explained the ways to insert the cup during use.
The entire package was a small box that fit in the palm of my hand. It was recyclable and it contained no plastic at all.
I found there is a learning curve when trying to use the cup the first go around and that as I continued to use it, it became a lot easier to use.
The cup is held in place by light suction and the top of the cup has a rim which creates a seal to help prevent leaks.
Since one of the reasons I used higher absorbency tampons was because I had a heavier flow I chose to use the larger cup option.
According to Lena, you can use your cup for up to 12 hours. The longest I have gone is overnight around 8 1/2 hours. However, that is usually on my light days. During my heavy flow days, I will have to empty my cup more often.
For most women though with average menstrual cycles, I think they would be just fine.
I only experienced discomfort in the beginning when learning how to properly place the cup.
I have an IUD and I did not experience any pain or issues because of it either.
So my experience was a good experience.
Removing the cup really wasn’t hard but I will say never pull the cup out using the stem only. You will experience pain because this does not break the seal. Remember there is suction action going on.
A MENSTRUAL CUP IS HEALTHIER FOR YOU
When choosing to use a menstrual cup you are benefiting from many health benefits.
Menstrual cups don’t dry out your vaginal walls and won’t tear them during removal.
Menstrual cups have no association with Toxic Shock Syndrome.
Your PH balance is preserved because there are no chemicals absorbed into your body.
It also removes the odor which is caused when blood is exposed to air.
I experienced all of this. Including no pain during removal, no odor and I had fewer cramps. It was not very messy at all to remove and empty. At least no messier than a tampon would be in my opinion.
After trying the menstrual cup I wanted to try the menstrual disk just for comparison and to see which was the better option for me.
WHAT IS A MENSTRUAL DISK?
A menstrual disk collects fluid just like a cup does. It collects in a bag that is attached to a soft outer ring.
Unlike a menstrual cup that can be reused, Flex brand can’t be reused.
However, it is more eco-friendly as it creates 60% less waste compared to traditional pads and tampons.
It offers many of the same healthier benefits. It’s made of 100% medical-grade material. It is hypoallergenic, reduces odor, and not associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome.
It is FDA registered, made without BPA, phthalates or natural latex rubber.
What intrigued me about the disk was where the disk actually sits inside the vaginal canal. Meaning there is even less friction or feeling of something being present during your cycle.
The disk can also be worn for up to 12 hours. But yet again with my heavy flow, this is not the case for me.
Another interesting fact is that the disk is the only menstrual product on the market that you can have intimacy with, because it does not sit in the vagina canal that same way other products do.
MY FLEX EXPERIENCE
When I opened Flex for the first time it made me think of the colorful wrappers you would normally see on a pad except theirs are black and much thinner.
I loved that it was black because to me that is more discreet than a flowery outer wrapper.
But the wrapper of each disk is made out of plastic, no different than a tampon/pad. This was a bit disappointing.
Also, the disk comes in a plastic bag. So again not as eco-friendly.
The ring is very light and very flexible. All you do is pinch it to insert. I found the insertion process to be much easier than a menstrual cup.
I also felt the ring had a short learning curve and was much smoother and easier to insert.
Once you insert and hook, it’s done. I felt nothing.
As with the cup, I could not last the hours they claimed because of my heavy flow. But what I did notice was that I leaked when it was full.
Removal wasn’t painful at all but it was very messy in my opinion. I think because I am heavy my collection is just more.
You are bound to get period blood on your hands. In addition, I felt that during removal instead of the blood staying collected in the disk it quickly leaked out. I tried it for 3 months and every removal was the same no matter how I positioned it or my flow.
This was a huge turn off to me.
Lastly, you still have a disposal process of placing the cup into the black wrapper. And just like with tampons you have to carry them around during your cycle.
COST SAVINGS: LENA CUP VS. FLEX
Since I am huge in saving money, another factor I considered for both options was how cost-effective they were.
The menstrual cup has a more expensive upfront cost but it is a single purchase and lasts up to 10 years.
The Flex company offers you a monthly subscription program and you can alter the quantity of disk-based on your flow. They claim you will use less disk because it can hold more and should reduce your cost compared to tampons.
But yet again for me, that wasn’t the case.
I found the monthly subscription to be no different than buying tampons.
The menstrual cup is more cost-effective.
USING NON-TOXIC ALTERNATIVES TO PADS AND TAMPONS
I 100% believe the two non-toxic alternatives I chose to try are both worth the investment based on their environmental efforts.
Using 60% less waste is a huge number when it compares to the 17,000 pads/tampons that are used by each woman.
The reduction of chemicals introduced to your body every cycle you have is the number one reason you will want to consider these two alternatives to pads and tampons.
Whether you choose to invest upfront for a menstrual cup or monthly menstrual disk each gives you the freedom to say no to toxic chemicals and reducing your eco-footprint.
Ultimately, I chose to stay with the Lena cup.
I reached out to both Lena cup and Flex during my trial period. Both companies were quick to respond, both offered advice during my learning curve when using their products.
Lena cup sent me a free additional cup to try regarding my concerns. Flex gave me no issues when I decided to end my subscription and took my suggestions seriously and handled everything with care.
Both companies I think are great in terms of their dedication to creating more eco-friendly period products. They both also truly are dedicated to creating a better period for all women.
Consider switching to one of these non-toxic alternatives to pads and tampons so you can have a healthy period. You will be glad you did!
Written by: Lisa Van Groningen. Lisa is a busy mom of 3. A former career mom turned stay at home mom. She dedicates her time to inspiring moms to create the life she loves. Her blog focuses on sharing mom advice, using natural products, mom/kid gear and finding real mom solutions for everyday life. She has 16 years between her oldest and youngest. You can follow her at www.yourmomvillage.com.
Looking for a non-toxic laundry alternative? Check-out Lisa’s post about how you can stop buying laundry detergent and do 1 year’s worth of laundry for $20 by using an Ecoegg.
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