When I was 12 or so, I prayed for the day I got my cycle. It would finally mean I was a woman. I knew about pads, was scared of tampons, and every day I kept hoping for signs of womanhood. I laugh about the day it happened now because of how unprepared I was. It happened in the middle of the school day along with a world of unexpected cramps. But through a range of experiences, experimentation, and diet change, older and hopefully wiser, I have found what works for me and perhaps eco-friendly/green options for us all. This guide was inspired by You Are Loved TSS, an organization promoting awareness of Toxic Shock Syndrome@youarelovedTSS, when I was asked about eco-friendly feminine hygiene products.
Reusable menstrual pads are washable cloth pads that are made to replace the disposable pads. They are not only eco-friendly since they are not immediately disposed of after use, they save you money. Less resources are use to produce a cloth pad, in fact you can make one yourself. Click Here for a list of patterns to sew your own or follow the instructions provided by Born To Love :
Cut out three layers of 100% cotton fabric (i.e. flannelette or terry cloth) into an 8.5″x10″ (21.5cm x 25cm) rectangle. Round corners. Pile together.
Stitch all around, using either a zigzag stitch or a serge stitch. Cut out two wings 6″x6″ (15cm x 15cm), shaped like this =O=.
Fold each wing in half, and zigzag or serge stitch all raw edges. Center wings on the pad, about 2.25″ (5.5cm) from either long edge, with straight edge of wings facing straight edge of the pad. Looks something like this [_[)(]_], though the wings will be overlapping.
Sew a straight seam, catching in the wings, 2.5″ (6.5cm) from both long edges. Either sew Velcro® on wings or use hammer-on snaps. Fold the pad in thirds, and fasten the wings underneath the fold.
Now you have a super-absorbent 9-layer menstrual pad that opens up for easy washing and quick drying!
Menstrual Cups fascinate me and the women I know who use them love and rave about them. These cups are meant to be alternative to disposable tampons, thus great for women who are active and on the go. There are three primary brands: DivaCup, the Moon Cup and the Keeper. Both the DivaCup and the Moon Cup are made from medical-grade silicone and the Keeper is made from latex rubber.
Menstrual cups are small, bell shaped cups that are worn internally. They are designed to catch our menstrual flow, not absorb it as pads are designed to. It is designed in the bell shape so it fits within uterine walls and right below the cervix. The holes on the rim of the cup creates a suction which holds it in place. Most menstrual cups, with proper care, can last up to 10 years saving you a significant amount of money. They come in various sizes, so check with each manufacturer to determine what will work for you.
The female reproductive system, especially are genitalia is very sensitive and can easily absorb or be irritated. Many commercial pads and tampons are bleached using chlorine. Commercial tampons are manufactured with synthetic materials like rayon, which has been linked to TSS/Toxic Shock Syndrome. Staphylococcus aureus is the bacteria that causes TSS and like most bacterias, reproduces easier and faster on synthetic materials.
Organic Pads and Tampons, such as the ones produced by Seventh Generation, Natracare, and Organic Essentials, do not use chlorine or toxic chemical/fragrances in the manufacturing process. It is a great improvement over using the commercial options that are usually available. Trader Joes also has store branded line of cost-effective organic tampons for less than $5.00. Duane Reades and other retailers also carry Organyc.
You can order some of these products on Soap.com with a discount.
$15 off any Soap.com on $50 or more with code 15SOAP50.
In a world of many options and lots of marketing, at the end of the day, choose what works for you and your lifestyle. Commit to choosing the healthiest option available. If you have any intimate questions relative to greening your feminine hygiene options, send me an email and I’ll be more than happy to answer: firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form on the contact page which gets sent to my personal email.