Alternative Menstrual Products
Alternative menstrual products are designed to offer you a wider variety of options for your period. These products are chosen for many different reasons, including health, environmental impact, economic considerations, social factors, and comfort. It is completely up to you as to which menstrual products best suit your needs.
If you find that regular tampons irritate you, or you’d rather not use regular tampons for other health reasons, there are both reusable cloth pads as well as 100% cotton organic pads and tampons that don’t contain rayon or dioxin.
Health concerns regarding tampons sometimes arise from the material used and the manufacturing process. Regular tampons are made with a cotton-rayon blend. Dioxin, a carcinogen, is added when bleaching the rayon. Dioxin levels in regular tampons are just at or below the detectable limit, meaning that exposure is many times less what one gets exposed to regularly in the environment. There is no proven link between an increased risk of toxic shock syndrome and rayon or dioxin.
It is important to note that the best way to prevent toxic shock syndrome is to use tampons with the minimum absorbency needed to control menstrual flow, and to change your tampon frequently, never leaving one in longer than eight hours.
It is estimated that 11-14 billion disposable menstrual products are landfilled in North America each year, excluding their packaging. It also takes more than 500 years for one pad to decompose completely. Also, the process of bleaching the pulp that is used in tampons and pads releases dioxins into the environment. Some people choose to use reusable alternative menstrual products in order to be more environmentally friendly.
Many alternative menstrual products are reusable. Though initial costs are higher than disposable menstrual products, some alternative menstrual products such as cloth menstrual pads and menstrual cups can be used for several years, saving you money in the long run.
Social and Comfort Considerations
Alternative menstrual products are sometimes chosen as a means to combat the stigma surrounding periods. Some find cloth pads more comfortable, or feel more in touch with their body and cycle with cups. Others like the simplicity and convenience of having only one or a few products that they can depend on at any time.
So, what are some of the available alternative menstrual products?
Reusable Cloth Pads
Reusable, washable cloth pads are often made from organic and fair-trade cotton. The classic style features two parts: a pad and a removable insert that can be changed throughout the day. There are also all-in-one pads that have dry-wicking top layers and extra absorbency. Pads and liners come in different absorbencies and sizes, and are easily attached to underwear with snaps. Reusable pads can last for years, since they can be washed easily in a washing machine or by hand.
Cups are made of top grade silicone and are worn at the back of the vagina just below the cervix to collect, rather than absorb, menstrual flow. Since the cup is reusable, it is also an environmentally friendly and economical alternative. These products contain no latex, rubber, plastic or BPA and usually come in two sizes:
For those under 30 and have not given birth (vaginally or c-section)
For those who are over 30 and/or have given birth (vaginally or c-section)
Organic Disposable Pads & Tampons
Organic disposable menstrual products are chemical-free, non-chlorine bleached and made from only certified organic 100% cotton. They are disposable and used like other pads & tampons.
Did you know that these products could be purchased through Shag Shop?
“Period Products: Information about tampons, pads, and more” The Center for Young Women’s Health, 2014. Retrieved November 4, 2015 from https://youngwomenshealth.org/2013/03/28/period-products/
“Tampons and Asbestos, Dioxin, & Toxic Shock Syndrome” US Food and Drug Administration: Patient Alerts (Medical Devices), 2015.