Natural Menstrual Products: Along with our monthly cycle comes the decision over what to use. There are many factors to consider: health, comfort, and cost, to name a few. Choosing the right menstrual products can help alleviate menstrual pain. Many conventional menstrual products are full of toxins that can increase PMS symptoms and irritate your skin. Today we will explore the pros and cons of each type of menstrual product and why it’s so important to transition to these more natural products.
The Problem With Conventional (Toxic) Menstrual Products
Unlike natural menstrual products, conventional menstrual products pose a problem for women’s health because they are full of harmful chemicals. Whether using tampons or pads, many of the brand name companies we recognize on the shelves contain ingredients like bleach and even glyphosate. Maxi pads contain SAPs (super absorbent powders), which are made from crude oil. So you are wearing a crude oil product up against a susceptible region of your body.
Conventional feminine hygiene products like pads and tampons contain pesticides, toxins, dioxins, and other chemicals. Conventional menstrual products contain harmful chemicals that negatively impact your health. Non-organic (or synthetic materials like plastics and rayon) are often bleached, and contain residue of pesticides and herbicides (like glyphosate), as well a range of toxins like chlorine, deodorants, fragrances, and glues. These products can contribute to cancer and hormone imbalances. Some of these chemicals include:
- Styrene: cancer-causing
- Chloromethane: hormone-disrupting
- Chloroethane: cancer-causing
- Acetone: irritates the skin
- Glyphosate (Round-up): cancer-causing
- Chloroform: disease-causing, hormone-disrupting, a neurotoxin
These harmful chemicals wreak havoc on your hormones and nervous system. In the short term, introducing these chemicals into your sensitive reproductive parts can irritate, and promote PMS symptoms by increasing your toxic load. In the long run, a buildup of toxins is associated with a wide range of diseases and neurological disorders ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s.
Harmful For The Environment
Generally, things that are bad for your body are equally bad for the environment. All the toxins in conventional menstrual products are also in our trash, which eventually makes their way to the earth. Having these chemicals in the soil and water means were poisoning the planet, and ourselves. These chemicals in our water and dirt impact the quality of food that we grow and the quality of the water that we drink. Pollution harms the planet and comes back full circle to damage us as well.
Thankfully, there are many alternative options to conventional menstrual products. Opting for more natural (or even re-usable!) menstrual products means a more sustainable and healthy approach for our bodies and the planet.
Alternative Natural Menstrual Products
Natural menstrual products don’t have to disturb your current habits radically. If you’re happy sticking to tampons or pads, a simple swap to using the organic version can be all you need. This straightforward switch is also a more sustainable outcome for the planet. The disposed of products don’t contain toxic chemicals that make their way into our soil and water systems.
If sustainability is of value to you, you can take it one step further and explore re-usable products like the ‘cup,’ cloth pads, or period-proof underwear. Let’s explore the different options one by one.
Organic Cotton Tampons
Organic tampons look and act the same as non-organic ones, but they don’t contain harmful chemicals. They are unbleached and made using organic cotton without cancer-causing additives like plastics, glues, pesticides, fragrances, or chlorine.
Although these aren’t the most optimal option for the environment, organic tampons do offer a convenient solution to menstrual products for those who aren’t looking to overhaul their current habits completely. Generally, they do not have the plastic applicators either, which is a bonus for the environment.
Organic Cotton Pads or Cloth Pads
For those who are fans of pads, there are two options in the realm of natural menstrual products. Like organic tampons, organic pads are made with organic cotton and without the use of any bleaching agents. They offer the same protection as a regular pad, but without the toxins.
If pads are your thing, but you don’t love the perpetual waste caused by them, consider using a reusable cloth pad. These pads are made from organic materials. Reusable pads are made with cloth and can be washed and used time and time again.
Natural Menstrual Products: Period Underwear
Period-proof underwear is the latest innovation in menstrual products. Similar to reusable pads, period underwear is washable underwear that has a built-in protective barrier that catches your flow.
Period underwear has taken the natural menstrual product scene by storm, with a wide range of options now available. Different companies offer different styles, made from various materials. Ideally, you would want to opt for period underwear made from organic or at least natural materials.
Period underwear looks just like regular underwear. These underwear can be an excellent option for a couple of days leading up to your cycle, to prevent any ‘surprises.’ Some people use period underwear in conjunction with other menstrual product (like the cup) during heavier days of their period, to avoid any stains due to overflow.
Natural Menstrual Products: The Menstrual Cup
The menstrual cup is a silicone cup, inserted in the vagina, and sits just below the cervix. Like a tampon, the period cup catches blood and keep it from exiting your body, until you remove it. Unlike tampons, the cup does not leak out the bottom. However, it should be changed within a mindful amount of time to avoid it overflowing (which means it can get a bit messy when you remove it).
The cup is folded into the vaginal canal and then pops open once inside. It stays inside with gentle suction. Although it can take a few practices to get used to, menstrual cups are straightforward to use. Once you understand how to insert it properly, there is no leakage with the cup. It’s also impossible to ‘get lost’ up there since your reproductive anatomy prevents it from happening!
The downside of menstrual cups is probably the nature of having to empty it while out in public, especially when you’re new to using it. Personally, the pro’s outweighed this con because it becomes second nature once you’re used to it.
It is not necessary to rinse out the cup after emptying it, meaning you can do it in a bathroom stall without having to exit it to rinse it. Like while inserting tampons, make sure your hands are clean before emptying the cup, to prevent introducing bacteria in your sensitive parts. Although it depends on the strength of your flow, generally a cup can stay in ½ -1 whole day without needing to be emptied, so you can time it to have some privacy (and perhaps a sink if you do prefer rinsing it out) when you do need to change it.
I love that I can swim, CrossFit, and lead a normal life with the cup. I simply empty it a few times per day. Once you get adjusted to using a cup, you won’t want to go back to pads.
Although they are a slightly more significant investment in the short run, one menstrual cup can last years, saving you the time and money otherwise spent on disposable products. Your bank account and the planet will thank you! The cup is one of my favorite natural menstrual products!
My Favorite Cup
The Lunette Menstrual Cup is my favorite (affiliate links)!
Less spending: Ditch the regular dash to the store and protect your purse strings with the best reusable choice that lasts several years.
Healthier you: Lunette Menstrual Cups collect fluids rather than absorbing them, keeping your superior interior naturally lubricated and healthy.
Happier planet: No more endless purchases, plastics and packaging. Every period with your reusable Lunette Menstrual Cup is a winning vote for the environment.
More control: Unlike tampons, you never “run out” of Lunette- because it’s a reusable period cup! Like an invisible sidekick it runs around with you either in a handy, cute pouch or sitting comfortably inside you. Meaning you can say goodbye to the worry, the hassle, the leaks and just live your life.
Natural Menstrual Products: Summary
Conventional menstrual products contain unnecessary toxins. Introducing harmful toxins in this sensitive area can promote symptoms of PMS and irritate your sensitive regions. Thankfully there is a wide range of more natural options, all of which minimize toxic exposure and many of which reduce the negative ecological footprint on the planet. There are disposable organic menstrual products, as well as non-toxic, reusable products like reusable pads, period underwear, or a silicone cup!