Funny thing about pcos and periods is you either have really heavy bleeds or you can go years without seeing one.
I fall into the latter category. My last visit from aunt flo was somewhere in the region of a couple of years ago. I am talking natural periods not birth control induced.
Now I don’t know about you but I am one of those lucky cysters who normally gets all the pain and none of the period. I get the tell tale signs that my body is trying it’s hardest to get things moving, backache, night sweats, craving for sugary things etc but then nada, nothing, zip.
So imagine my surprise when I actually DID start my period. I shouted down to my husband who was just excited as I was. Reaching for my sanitary towels I got to thinking just what the hell is actually in these bad boys? I mean I know what they do and I know that I have to use them but what are they actually made from?
How harmful are your sanitary products?
If the adverts are to be believed then you can play tennis and go running whilst looking incredibly happy and not looking like you want to dive into a big tub of dairy free ice-cream and watch An Affair to Remember (no, that’s just me then).
Those adverts also make a point of showing you a glass of strangely blue liquid (I never understood why it wasn’t red) being poured onto a fabulous new pad that can absorb upto 20x more liquid than the leading brand.
What are the chemicals in that magical goo that absorbs all that blood and why on earth would we want to put something like that next to our vaginas? Sanitary companies are not required by law to inform women of the ingredients in their products because they are classed as medical devices.
Curious, I went into my bathroom and looked at the few products I had left from before I decided to start using reusable pads and sure enough there were no ingredients listed on any of them. I have two packs of sanitary towels one from a UK supermarket and Always. I also had a box of Tampax and again no ingredients listed just a toxic shock syndrome warning. Now if that doesn’t throw up red flags I don’t know what will.
Once these products have served their purpose where do they end up? Most women tend to wrap them back up in the wrapper they came in and throw them away. These pads end up on a landfill somewhere rotting down and releasing chemicals into the soil or in the stomach of some poor bird.
Tampons and sanitary pads can also end up in the ocean and cause unthinkable damage to the delicate ecosystem under the waves.
In their 2016 beach clean-up, the Marine Conservation Society found 20 tampons and sanitary items per 100 metres of shoreline.
Burning the pad
There is a great article on Naturallysavvy.com explaining the chemicals contained in sanitary products. For example did you know that a conventional sanitary towel uses the equivalent of four plastic bags or that the wings on sanitary pads and tampon applicators may contain latex which some people are allergic to?
I decided to do a similar experiment to that conducted by Naturallysavvy.com. My experiment was less scientific and involved a bowl, a lighter and a pad. However, my findings were similar the sanitary towel burnt slowly and ended up going black. The smell was very strong plastic smell and even my husband who was stood outside with me on a crisp, cold English autumn day commented on how bad the smell was.
From a feminist perspective these products send us backwards. We don’t know what were are putting in our bodies and we aren’t being given all the information to make an informed decision. We are just told every month to use these products to stop society seeing that we are having a period. Woman are not allowed to be emotional, we are not allowed to smell slightly different and society requires that we compose ourselves without showing that we are in pain. We need to educate ourselves and allow ourselves to experience our periods how we choose to. Each period is as unique as we are and as women we should not be punished for having them. We need to rise up and #reclaimourperiods!
This is an epidemic and we need to wake up and realise that we are contributing to the problem. There are so many great alternatives available and I will list them but first…
Lets talk about our vulnerable vaginas
Lady garden, flower, love tunnel, floo, pussy, v-jayjay and many more terms are used when talking about the vagina. We know what it’s main purpose is and (most) of us know what it looks like and the changes that can occur during our cycles. I bet what you didn’t know is that the vagina is extremely permeable and consists of tiny openings that allow liquids and gases to pass through.
The vagina is self cleaning due to its unique mucous membrane which helps to expel harmful microorganisms and has a delicate ph balance that can be easily upset by over using soaps or chemicals. However, the membrane that helps to protect the vagina is also able to absorb as well as expel and this is where the chemicals from sanitary products can become dangerous.
In the past chemicals such as glyphosate(found in weedkiller) and dioxin – which is carcinogenic – have been found in tampons and sanitary towels these chemicals can be absorbed quickly into the blood stream via the vagina.
If you care about your vagina then it is time to take a closer look at the products you are using and start to question whether they are safe and perhaps you could try alternative products such as reusable pads/tampons or mooncups.
Vagina friendly products
So what products are out there that are not laced with a cocktail of plastic and chemicals? Well there are lots of alternatives available that will keep you and your vagina happy.
Thinx – Period Pants
These are brilliant, they are washable and resuable undies. No need to worry about changing your pad or forgetting to take out your tampon. You can do everything you normally do knowing you are full protected and leak free.
Thinx Hi-Waist Period-Proof Underwear – The phrase “treat yo’self” reaches new belly-bu… [More]
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Reusable Sanitary Towels
I love my reusable sanitary towels and I think you will too. They are more secure than usual pads as they have a press stud on the wings that keeps them securely attached to your knickers. They are soft and comfortable. Most reusable sanitary towels are made from bamboo and cotton. Bamboo is highly absorbent and antibacterial.
Purple Leaf Naturals offer beautifully designed sanitary towels and each comes with its own wash bag/carry case so you can take them with you when you travel and they can remain discreet in your luggage. Purple Leaf offer bundles of sanitary towels as well as single pads check them out here.There is a massive range out there from Amazon to Ebay and a vast array of different designs to suit every style.
Yes it is possible to buy reusable tampons! ImseVimse Reusable Tampons come in three sizes for light, regular and heavy flows. They are made with organic cotton and Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Certified free from harsh chemicals. Sold through Ethicalsuperstore.com and only £20 for a pack of 8 you can get them here.
If you feel like making your own go ahead and check out this tutorial on how to make your own reusable tampons. All you need is some hemp or bamboo to absorb and your own creative flare. Add your own style to them, you can even knit your own tampons!
By now I think most people are aware of mooncups and how amazing they are. I have to admit I am yet to buy one as my periods are so irregular I just haven’t really had to purchase one. Reviews of these are always overwhelmingly positive and I cannot wait to get one. If your flow is quite significant then the Mooncup is the product for you. It can hold up 28ml of menstrual fluid at a time and you only have to empty the cup every 12 hours! At only £21.99 think how much you will save over the years There are also some very informative videos on YouTube on how to insert and remove the Mooncup.
Get your very own Mooncup – Mooncups are £21.99 with free p&p.
Alternatively you can try these disposable menstrual discs which can remain in place during sex.
Under the sea, under the sea…. Ok so obviously these sponges are no longer living entities but they are highly absorbent. You can even leave it in when you have sex which is a bonus because there is nothing more unattractive in the heat of the moment than “hang on honey, I just have to take out my tampon”. Sponges can last between 6-12 months and can be removed, washed and popped back in. There are even some testimonials from women who claim using sponges has made their flow lighter. There are somethings to consider when using sponges. They can deteriorate and possibly leave little bits of sponge in places where you dont necessarily want sponge, they can rip and it is recommended that they are washed every 3 hours.
If however you want to try the sponge then why not give this set a go.
The thought of once living sponge not really resonating with you? Thats cool why not try the Beppy Sponge! The Beppy Sponge is a single use sponge which is made in a factory and comes individually wrapped just like a normal tampon. You can even get pre-lubricated sponges for easier application.