I cringe when I think of all of the years I spent using conventional pads and tampons. When we began making lifestyle shifts to embrace a healthier way of being, I started to research the ingredient lists of all of the products we were using, and I was often horrified at what I found. It took me longer to investigate the delicately titled “personal care” products, mostly because it was something I did every month without thinking about it too much. I mean if these products are on the shelves they must be safe, right? As it turns out, not so much. I am often shocked at the ingredients and products that receive a seal of approval while still containing questionable and often dangerous ingredients.
Having kids of my own made me much more aware of product toxicity, and while my girls are still several years off from their monthly cycle, it is something I have started looking into, for their sake and also for mine. Embarking on the Culinary Nutrition Expert program a couple of years ago was an eye opener in this regard as I read Meghan Telpner’s blog post on Tampons and participated in healthy lifestyle discussions in our Facebook group. One of the discussions focused on reviews of the Diva Cup, and a debate about the pros and cons of “personal hygiene” products.
Can I just say how ridiculous that terminology is? Not to mention all of the ads out there, with women running around in white clothing during their cycle. I am sorry but no woman in her right mind would wear white on a heavy cycle day, for very obvious reasons. At what point did we decide that we need to sanitize our cycle? Make it something to tuck away and hide, even feel ashamed about? Why do we need to make use of feminine hygiene sprays and wipes to feel “clean”, especially when these items are full of gross synthetic ingredients and fragrance. What happened to celebrating your monthly cycle as a fundamental part of life, something that allows for pregnancy and childbirth (if you so choose). Even if you don’t it is something that happens every month (like it or not) so why not embrace it as a chance to focus on self care and slowing down, rather than the “curse” and other such terminology that makes it something to be detested and avoided at all costs? Don’t even get me started about birth control, which is distributed like candy and is often use to cancel a cycle altogether. I am not anti-birth control, however I wish I had done more research and gone into it better informed when I first started taking the pill back in the day.
For a while I was challenged as I didn’t feel I had any other options. Organic tampons were an initial compromise, although they are still treated with chemicals and bleach. Not to mention that tampons also run the risk of toxic shock syndrome. I am not a big fan of pads, I don’t care for feeling like I am wearing a diaper and try to avoid synthetic fabrics and scents, especially in and around my lady parts. I looked into period underwear, by a few different companies and while the concept is great, I wasn’t a huge fan of their use of synthetic fabrics. In the end I was able to find some excellent options that I use on an ongoing basis, and plan to purchase for my girls when they start their cycle.
One of the first products I tried was a diva cup. Made of silicon, the cup can be boiled before and after your cycle to sanitize, and can be cleaned each time you use it with gentle soap. I use Dr Bronner’s Castille soap (unscented) as I find it works well without any additional added ingredients. It took me a bit to sort out the right angle for the cup, but with a bit of experimentation and patience the diva cup works really well. If you are comfortable inserting a tampon, the diva cup is not a huge stretch.
I wanted to find something to pair with my diva cup, and initially tried a couple of different companies but as I mentioned above was not thrilled with the synthetic fabrics used. I discovered that Luna Pads had come out with a similar underwear product, using organic fabric and made the switch. I like to soak and wash mine separately from other clothing, it’s probably not necessary but this works for me. Luna also retails lined laundry bags, which I find helpful when it comes to laundering these items. If pads are your thing, they also retail organic, washable options that work really well.
I have already planned out what I am going to do when my girls come of age. I am going to put together a cycle basket for them, with a journal, lavender essential oil candle, homemade bath salts, a heating pad, luna panties and a diva cup. I may add a few fabric pads for them, if this is more in their area of comfort to start with. My intention is to help them embrace their femininity and monthly cycle as this is something they will be experiencing for a good number of years.
Red Tent Sisters - this site is a wonderful resource for natural alternatives for birth control and all things related to sexuality and cycles. I am a huge fan!
Diva Cup - a silicon cup that works much like a tampon, without the same toxicity risks. They have two different sizes, depending on age and whether or not you have had kids.
Luna Panties - I really like the concept of period underwear, essentially underwear with a built in pad that you can wear in tandem with a diva cup, with an extra pad layer, or on its own on light cycle days. I love that Luna Panties offers an organic option!
Dr Bronners Castille Soap - I carry a travel size Dr Bronner's Liquid Soap in my purse, for hand washing while on the road and also to clean out my diva cup as needed.