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Today we’re talking about an intimate topic for women, but for the men out there, you’ll want to read this too and pass it on to the women in your life – your wife, your partner, your daughter, your sister, your mother, or your aunt.
Most women probably don’t think about the feminine products they are using once a month, but they should know what’s in them. The safety of these products is not talked about a lot but it should be because women are being exposed to potentially harmful, toxic ingredients.
Toxic Chemicals (and GMOs) in Our Private Parts
A few months ago, glyphosate made a big splash in the news when it was reported that commercial feminine care products (disposable pads and tampons) contained extremely high levels of this pesticide residue. So, now women are putting one of the worst chemicals ever made into their hoo-hahs.
Yeah. Not cool.
The new study, conducted at the University of La Plata in Argentina, reported their discovery that 85% of all cotton feminine products tested positive for glyphosate. In addition 62% of the sample they used tested positive for aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), a derivative of glyphosate.
If you’re not familiar with what glyphosate is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer research arm has ruled it to be a likely carcinogen. Glyphosate is the main ingredient used in Monsanto’s widely popular herbicide (weed killer), Roundup. It is widely used on staple crops, including cotton which is quite often genetically modified and is also what conventional feminine products are also made of.
The toxicity of glyphosate is nothing new, though the powers that be have done an excellent job of hiding the truth from the general public. Thankfully more reports are being published about the dangers of this toxic chemical and the truth is becoming more well-known. The alternative health world has been speaking out against the use of this horrible chemical for quite some time.
If you’re not already familiar with glyphosate and its dangers, here are a few articles for your reference:
- Glyphosate: Pathways to Modern Diseases
- How GMOs and Glyphosate Impact Soil Biology
- Glyphosate Herbicides are Toxic Below Regulatory Safety Limits
- California EPA Moves to Label Monsanto’s Roundup ‘Carcinogenic’
- Glyphosate Damages DNA says Cancer Researcher
- Human Breast Milk Found Unsafe – High Levels of Glyphosate
For even more info on the dangers of glyphosate and what is going on in the media right now regarding it, please visit the Health Impact News website, which has done an excellent job of staying on top of this important topic.
Because our skin is our largest organ, you should be aware of what you’re putting on it and what it absorbs. When you’re using tampons and sanitary napkins in an area with high absorbency on a regular basis, you could be doing more harm to your body by absorbing these toxic chemicals.
Safer Alternatives for Feminine Products
It’s time to do our bodies a favor and switch to alternative feminine products. I have been using some organic feminine products for awhile now, but to be honest with you, I was still using disposable, non-organic pads as well. I just never found an organic product that worked as well as my favorite disposable product.
That is until the new study came out and it lit a fire under my rear to get my feminine products clean up posthaste! So, today, I am going to share some of my experiences with you and give you some options for alternative products that you might like.
If you’re ready to ditch the standard feminine products found in most supermarkets and pharmacies, thankfully, there are other healthier, safer options. The main options available to women right now are:
- 100% Organic Cotton Disposable Pads and Tampons
- Reusable Menstrual Cups
- Reusable Cloth Pads
- Reusable Cloth Panties
If you’re wanting to get started with safer feminine care products, but are just not ready to dive into the reusable ones, definitely look into organic cotton disposable products. Like I mentioned above, I tried a few different brands and never could find products that suited my needs. Some regular grocery stores are carrying organic brands and all health food stores will have a selection to chose from as well.
Why Make the Switch to Reusable Feminine Products?
Let’s be honest. For some people, the thought of reusing a feminine product make send them running in the other direction. That is totally normal. I remember also feeling a little squeamish about it when I first started learning about reusable products about 10 years ago.
But, since then my bodily functions squeamishness is pretty much non-existent and I have no problems opening up and talking about issues that most people would prefer to keep tucked away in the dark.
In addition to the fact that a lot of women are exposing their nether-regions to toxic chemicals and GMOs, here are three other reasons that reusable products might be a good fit for you:
- Environmental Impact: Did you know that roughly 20 billion pads, tampons, and applicators are being tossed in the landfills every year? The average woman will use close to 17,000 disposable pads and/or tampons in their lifetime. These items are not always biodegradable and may linger on this earth for hundreds of years in the future.
- Financial Savings: Reusable products are a great way to save money in the long run. Cups can last up to 10 years and reusable pads can last at least 5 years, if not more. When it comes to the expense of washing them, that really is a non-issue for me, as they are very small and use very little water and resources. You can choose to air dry the pads to avoid running the dryer.
- Comfort: One of the biggest things I’ve noticed after switching to cloth pads is how much more comfortable my periods are. The pads are breathable, move with my body, and don’t leave me feeling chafed. And I’m not alone. I’ve spoken to so many women over the last few months who have expressed the same thoughts.
Cups are some of the most common alternative products and one that I was extremely nervous to try. I have never liked tampons — they were always very uncomfortable for me and I was was concerned that the cups would be uncomfortable as well.
Well, I was pleasantly surprised, even after the first couple tries. Cups definitely take some getting used to and will most likely take you a few months to get the hang of them. I only use the cups on the 2nd and 3rd days of my period, which are my heaviest and especially love them at night.
When it comes to selecting a menstrual cup, there are many brands to choose from. I tested three different brands for this review, though there are quite a few more brands out there, each with their own unique selling points. Some will be bigger, some smaller, some firmer, some softer.
Almost all cups are made from medical grade silicone. I do not react to silicone, though I have met a couple women in my life who do, so this is important to keep in mind when selecting a cup.
I can tell you that you will most likely need to try out a couple different cups before you find the right one. While all cups are going to be similar in design, it’s amazing how even the slightest different in shape, length, and width can make for our delicate region. So, if the first one you try does not work well, try another one.
Also, another IMPORTANT tip is to not cut off the stem of the cup until you know for sure how far up the cup with sit. This is going to be based on where you cervix sits during your period. I watched a ton of videos before using a cup for the first time and immediately assumed I’d need to cut off the stem.
Whoops. Turns out I didn’t need to because my cervix sits pretty high and, well, let’s just say getting that cup out after sleeping all night was, ummm, a little awkward.
And, lastly. If you’re not comfortable with your lady bits, prepare to get comfortable. You will learn more about your private parts during this process than any other time in your life. And, that is a GOOD thing! The more we know, the better our health will be.
While there are many brands of cups on the market, here are the three brands I tried.
(image courtesy of LilyCup and Intimina.com)
Lily Cup is made by the Swedish company, Intimina. They offer the first and only range of products dedicated exclusively to all aspects of a woman’s intimate health. Their mission is to provide a comprehensive collection of products and information for women at every stage of life, from the first menstruation to beyond menopause. To ensure that every product created at Intimina is medically informed, they benefit from the research and oversight of their Medical Advisory Board.
The Lily Cup was provided to me as sample from the company for this review. It comes in two sizes, Lily Cup and Lily Cup Compact. It shapes perfectly to your body for total comfort and protects for up to 12 hours.
This cup is hypoallergenic, doesn’t cause irritation, and also offers no dryness, no fibers, no odors and no strings. Its advanced design features offer a non-spill rim and makes for easy insertion and removal.
Of the three cups I tried, the Lily is my favorite. I tried their standard Lily Cup size. I feel like the shape of it suits my body the best and it was the most comfortable from the start.
Find Lily Cup via Amazon here (an affiliate partner).
(image courtesy of Ruby Cup)
Ruby Cup was founded in 2011 in Denmark by Maxie Matthiessen, Veronica D’Souza, and Julie Weigaard-Kjaer. These women are on a mission to provide a sustainable and healthy menstrual hygiene solution to women and girls worldwide.
The Ruby Cup (they provided me with two cups, one in each size) is another menstrual cup that is a healthy, high quality and eco-friendly feminine product that is made from 100% medical grade silicone and reusable for up to 10 years.
The Ruby Cup is hypoallergenic, offers up to 12 hours of protection and collects your flow, doesn’t absorb it. They offer two different sizes and I got to test them both out. The small worked well for lighter days and the medium for heavier.
One cool thing about the Ruby Cup company is that they are a brand with a social mission:
Menstrual cups are a menstrual hygiene product that can provide a solution for women and girls who cannot afford sanitary products. One cup can last for 10 years and gives a girl the freedom and confidence to stay in school and access education in order to reach her full potential.
Ruby Cup applies a Buy One Give One model and works alongside local partners and organisations. This offers a solution to the menstruation problems that many girls and women face in developing countries. Our main focus country is Kenya but we have also worked with local partners in Zambia, South Africa, and Uganda.
Of the three cups I tried, the Ruby Cup was my second favorite. This was also the very first cup I tried and the one that I immediately cut the stem off of. Fun times. Still usable, but just take a tad more work. 😉
(image courtesy of Diva Cup)
The DivaCup (provided to me free of charge by the company) is another alternative to using tampons. It’s also the cup that you will see most frequently in stores. I see it sold in regular grocery stores, big box stores, and health food stores, so if you don’t want to order one online you can easily find it locally.
It’s a reusable, bell-shaped menstrual cup that you wear internally and sits low in the vaginal canal. Instead of absorbing your menstrual flow, it collects it and must be emptied twice a day during menstruation (or more, depending on your flow). It’s 12-hour leak-proof and made from the highest quality healthcare grade silicone.
Of all the cups I tried, this was my least favorite. I don’t feel like it sat well inside me and I never could get it to fit quite right. Like I said above, finding the perfect cup may take some experimentation. You also may find that over time different cups will fit your body better, depending on what stage you are in life. I am going to continue to test it out and see how/if my body changes over time or from period to period.
Find DivaCup via Amazon here (an affiliate partner).
Reusable Pads and Panties
OK. I have wanted to switch to reusable pads for a LONG time. But for some reason, I have been a big fat chicken. I really thought that they would not be able to offer me the level of protection that I was getting with my favorite disposable pads.
Boy, was I ever wrong. Not only do my cloth pads work just as well as disposables, they are SO much more comfortable. I will never go back to disposable products. And, I’m kind of kicking myself for not making the switch sooner!
Figuring out how many pads you will need may take a couple of cycles. A good estimate is 2-4 per day, depending on your flow. If you are using a cup, you may only need 2 per day, or maybe only one if your flow is light. If your flow is a lot heavier, you may need more.
One thing to keep in mind when selecting cloth pads is the type of fabric used. Some reusable pads will be made from conventional cotton, which will most likely still contain glyphosate residue. Organic cotton pads are going to cost more, but it’s a worthy investment.
That said, it’s about progress, not perfection. If we wanted to go totally gung-ho about this, then we would all need to start buying clothes made from only organic cotton, and that, well, would be a costly investment and one that most people are going to be unable to make.
In the spirit of full disclosure, not all of the brands of cloth pads that I tried were 100% organic. And, that’s OK. As I continue to add to my collection, I will strive to find more brands using organic cotton and I’ll add to this post as I do. And, the recent study mentioned up at the top may also inspire vendors to source better materials in the future too.
In my research, I discovered that Etsy is full of amazing small businesses creating comfortable cloth pads, many made with organic fibers. I am featuring a few of the brands that I discovered in today’s post, but I encourage you to hop on Etsy and see who you can discover too. I love supporting small, woman-owned companies.
There are a TON of options out there when it comes to cloth pads, but here are the four brands that I tried.
Lunapads International is a women-owned social mission driven business based in Vancouver, Canada. Their goal is to help individuals have more positive and informed experiences of their menstrual cycles, and by extension, their bodies overall.
They believe that using reusable menstrual products is a creative and empowering way to honor and care for ourselves and the planet.
Lunapads provided me a few different samples to try out (images courtesy of Lunapads):
- LunaPanties (Maia Hipster): These are super cute and comfortable and great for those really light days. You can also get additional inserts to help increase flow protection.
(image courtesy of LunaPads)
- Performa Pad (Super Absorbency): I love, love, love this pad. It is SO comfortable and is by far one of my favorites. The material is soft and does not pill.
(image courtesy of LunaPads)
- Standard Pad and Insert (Heavy/Overnight): This pad is comfortable as well, though I don’t like the material as much as the Performa pad. It’s made from a flannel material which ended up pilling quite a bit.
(image courtesy of LunaPads)
- Pantyliner (Long): This panty liner is super comfortable and very breathable. It’s perfect as a backup for my menstrual cup on heavy days.
(image courtesy of LunaPads)
They do offer both conventional and organic cotton fabrics. The organic cotton is going to be slightly more expensive, but it’s worth it.
Find LunaPads on Amazon here (an affiliate partner).
Brave Elegance Fashion
(image courtesy of Brave Elegance Fashion)
Another Etsy gem and one of my favorite heavy day pad. The brand was created by Tikvah Ott who likes to joke that she seems “to have found myself in the business of dealing with bodily fluids.” Tikvah is such a nice gal and I have communicated with her via email several times and am very happy to be sharing about her brand in this post.
Tikvah’s best quote? This one by far:
My husband thinks what I make is awesome, and sometimes he jokes that I make such cool looking stuff he wishes guys could wear them. …Maybe sanitary pads on the arms for archery armguards???
LOL! All joking aside, I loved the pad I purchased from her and am going to be ordering some more pads from her in the near future.
EXCLUSIVE COUPON CODE!
Tikvah is offering Delicious Obsessions readers a special coupon code for anyone interested in trying her products. Use code JESS10 at checkout for 10% off your order.
- You can learn more about Tikvah and her products here.
- Sign up for Tikvah’s newsletter here (she does a fun giveaway each month for a free pad).
- Find Tikvah and Brave Elegance Fashion on Facebook here.
(image courtesy of YurtCraft)
I found this brand on Etsy during my initial cloth pad research. YurtCraft was founded by Lisa, who first learned about cloth pads through a homesteading website. At first she was grossed out, but the more she thought about it, the more sense it made. She now creates a variety of cloth products.
I purchased one of her overnight pads and it is SUPER comfortable. It’s one of my favorites in my collection. She also offers wetbags, which are handy to store your used pads in until you are ready to do a load of wash.
EXCLUSIVE COUPON CODE!
Lisa is offering Delicious Obsessions readers a special coupon code for anyone interested in trying her products. Use code TRYONE at checkout for 5% off your order of any size.
Cozy Folk Pads
(image courtesy of Cozy Folk)
This was one of the companies I found on Etsy and boy am I glad I did! Cozy Folk was created by Jenn Marie who has been sharing the joys of alternative menstrual products with people all over the world since 2011. When she’s not in the studio, she enjoys spending time with her partner Frank and her dog Sadie, making art and music, and exploring nature.
Jenn Marie’s pads are so super comfortable and they offer a ton of fun patterns, sizes, and thicknesses. I purchased a variety pack of her pads so that I could try some of everything and I really do love them. She has the largest selection of any Etsy shop I found and there is sure to be something on her store for everyone.
How to Care for Reusable Feminine Care Products
Now that we’ve taken a look at different options and brands, let’s talk about how to take care of these products if you do make the switch. It’s much easier than you may think.
Menstrual Cup Care
These are SUPER easy to take care of. When you first get your cup, you will need to sanitize it in boiling water for 5-10 minutes before you use it the first time. Once it’s boiled, remove from the water and let air dry. All cups will come with a storage bag that is breathable and helps keep the cup clean.
During your period, you will use your clean cup as much or as little as you want. When you remove the cup during the day, you can simply clean with hot water and some non-toxic soap, shake to remove excess water, and re-insert. You can also boil it in between uses if you have time and are feeling a little paranoid about germs, but I never did. Soap and water was sufficient enough for me.
Once you are done with the cup for that cycle, boil it again for 5-10 minutes and then store in the bag it comes with. You can also re-boil it again before you use it in your next cycle if you would like. The silicone is very durable and sanitizing it in boiling water regularly will not harm the cup.
Cloth Pad and Panty Care
Cloth pads and panties can be washed by hand or in a machine in any temperature water with your regular laundry detergent. Pre-soaking or stain-treating your pads can be helpful, but I never pre-soak my pads and none of them ever have any stains on them.
They can then be tossed in the dryer or left out to air dry. Your preference. Drying them in the dryer does help them maintain their softness and it feels better against my skin than the pads that I let air dry.
I use warm or hot water, my normal laundry detergent, and a scoop of oxygen bleach in mine. To save energy and water, you can also wash them with your regular laundry. The thought of that may gross some people out, so do what feels best for you.
Some brands say to use vinegar when washing, while others say not to. It really will depend on the materials the vendor is using and each vendor should provide you with instructions for how to best take care of their brand of pads.
You do want to avoid using harsh chemicals, chlorine bleach, and fabric softeners on cloth pads. All of these will damage the cloth and degrade the quality. Because cloth pads can be a bit of an investment, you will want to do your best to take good care of them.
You can choose to wash your pads as you use them by adding them to your regular laundry during your cycle. Or, if you prefer to wash them separately, you can store your used pads in a mesh bag, wetbag, or some other breathable container until you’re ready to wash them. You do want to make sure you wash them soon after your cycle ends if you choose this method.
What Do You Think?
So, that’s it. For now, at least. I consider this post a work in progress and will making updates to it as I learn more about the topic and also find new brands that I want to share with you. I really hope this post has been helpful!