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Let me guess, you’re fed up of period cramps. You’ve tried the usual remedies to get rid of period pains like paracetamol and hot water bottles with little or no success. Now it’s time to try something a little outside of the box and I have just the thing. My own search led me to a surprising yet effective solution to beat period pain and I want to share with you. In this post we’ll look at what disposable sanitary products are made of and associated health risks which may well be contributing to period pain. You’ll see exactly why I ditched them too. I’m also introduce you to Cloth Menstrual Products (CSP) – don’t cringe – and how using CSP could reduce or perhaps even eliminate period pain for good. If that’s piqued your interest and you are ready for a happier period and willing to try something new – read on – because this post is likely to benefit you.
Struggling With The Monthly Bleed – My Story
My periods started at the tender age of 10. This was my gateway to disposable pads. Ultra thick pads that served only to make me conscious of how my ass looked in public. They were sweaty, noisy and uncomfortable, I hated them and the cramping was a killer. No one talked periods and with only a ropey dial-up Internet connection I was left wondering. I spent my teenage years bedridden once a month crippled with pain. If this was what being a grown-up was about I wanted it to stop!
Hot water bottles made my period pain worse and paracetamol only served to mask the pain rather than address the problem (and I wouldn’t touch it now as I don’t do pharmaceuticals). Doctors recommended other drugs and performed an ultrasound with no remarkable results. Heck, I even switched to tampons. At least my paranoia about my chunky butt was relieved.
Unfortunately, the switch from disposable pads to tampons did nothing to decrease my period pain status. Tampons made me feel sick and physically cramp up on removal. Does anyone else experience that? Desperate for some relief I switched back to pads – thin ones this time the pain reverted back to its usual level of ouch. At 17, I resigned myself to just having to deal with it and decided to quietly await menopause. Life sucked.
What’s in disposable pads and tampons anyway?
Let it be known; there is no good in these products only bad and ugly. Disposal sanitary products contain some utterly shocking ingredients (organic varieties are better). They are a cocktail of toxic chemicals that would excite a chemist but probably wouldn’t be described as safe to put in on or on your vagina. Yet these products are often the only options we’re taught about. Absolutely criminal in my opinion.
You’ll know from my soap nuts post I’ve talked about the skin being our largest organ. Our first defence against infection and bacteria. The skin around the vagina is thin, it’s sensitive and an opening to inside the body. Whatever we put on our skin has direct access to the bloodstream, this is true of what we put on our cooch too. With that in mind, let’s take a look at common ingredients in disposable pads and tampons.
Synthetic Fibers – Rayon and Viscose
A highly absorbent synthetic fibre. When used in tampons these fibres have the potential to attach to the vaginal wall long after a tampon is removed increasing the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome. TSS is said to be rare when it does occur it’s not s joke. TSS is considered a medical emergency and can be fatal if not treated fast. Do you know the symptoms? I’ve noted them below according to the NHS.
Signs/Symptoms of TSS:
- Flu-like symptoms – headaches, sore throat, chills, muscle aches
- Sudden High Fever
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Whites of eyes, lips and tongue turning bright red
- Sunburn-like rash
- Breathing difficulties
You may have Toxic Shock Syndrome if you experience these symptoms while using tampons and should call emergency services immediately.
Dioxin is a byproduct of rayon manufacturing process. Although exposure to dioxin through sanitary products may have reduced since changing bleaching methods in the late 1990s it’s not gone and there is no safe level of exposure. Dioxin is known a known carcinogen.
Synthetic fragrance can be found in the scented range of sanitary products for ‘freshness’ which is just not needed. To stay fresh regularly change your sanitary wear and wash, simple, no chemical assistance required. Fragrance is a combination of toxic chemicals often linked to hormone disruption and reproductive harm. The shocking part is fragrance companies are under no obligation to disclose their ingredients under the guise of them being ‘trade secrets’.
Plastics and plasticising chemicals
Crude oil plastics happen to be the main ingredient in most disposable menstrual products, hardly synonymous with vagina friendliness. In fact, many of these plastics and chemicals have been linked to health problems including hormone disruption, heart disease, cancer and reproductive harm including fetal damage. Then they go off to landfill and leach toxins leech into the environment.
The majority of sanitary products are made from synthetic fibres and when they do contain cotton its non-organic, coated in pesticides cotton. Therefore the vagina is exposed to pesticide residues. Again, this ends up in landfill poisoning the environment and wildlife too. Not cool.
Do you have to artificially lube up to enjoy your sex life? It could be disposable sanitary products contributing to or even causing the problem.
*** Check out this video: Burning disposable sanitary pads: organic vs a non-organic **
The organic pad burns cleanly while the non-organic one gives off thick black smoke like a chemical fire. This speaks volumes about the ingredients of non-organic sanitary pads.
That pretty much sums up why I will never ever go back to disposable sanitary products knowing what I do now. The ingredients concern me with health risks too great to make them a viable option for me. If your thoughts are now scrambling for safer options, fear not! I’ll not leave you hanging without some suggestions.
Safer Alternatives and The Pain-Free Period
When it comes to safer alternatives here are a few options:
- Organic cotton pads
- Organic cotton tampons
- CSP aka Cloth Sanitary Products which include cloth pads and menstrual cups
OK, don’t freak out at the thought of reusable sanitary products. We wash and wear knickers another day and this really isn’t any different. Want to know the best part? My periods are now pain-free.
My cup has been a blessing and getting used to it was simple enough. Not only are cups (and cloth pads) safer than their disposable counterparts but I’ve seen a 100% reduction in my period pain. I kid you not, since switching to a menstrual cup (I use Mooncup if you’re interested), my periods are pain-free. Sometimes I add cloth into the mix too with the same positive impact.
Perhaps I’m just lucky? After group discussions and hearing other women’s experiences with CSP reducing period pain it turns out I’m not alone. There are plenty women using CSP and many find their period pain is significantly reduced since switching. Although using CSP may not be a solution to every woman’s period pain, the firsthand testimonies are encouraging. Either way, you’ll significantly reduce exposure to toxins from disposables by switching to reusable, surely that can only be a good thing.
CSP can potentially save a tidy sum over its lifetime and waste is practically zero!
Savvy with a sewing machine? Try your hand at making your own pads!
Get Rid Of Period Pains – Try switching to reusable
Since ditching disposable sanitary products my period pains are quite literally non-existent. No more curling up into a ball wishing my life away eager for menopause. Gone is that sweatiness and discomfort. Periods are good now. Why for the love of Pete didn’t anyone tell me that disposables weren’t the only option years ago?! I wish I knew then what I know now. That’s why I’m sharing it with you because using CSP has the potential to get rid of period pains with the added bonus of being better for your health.
Inform and educate your daughters about reusable sanitary products, give them the opportunity to choose and make an informed decision about managing their periods. They needn’t be a pain.
Over the course of CSP’s lifetime, you could save hundreds if not thousands of pounds and you’ll not be filling landfills with menstrual waste either. Eco-warrior points again! Honestly, if you’ve not tried them yet and you are looking for a happier period I’d highly recommend switching to cloth or a cup.
In the meantime, what do you think of reusable menstrual products? Do you have experience using cloth or cups? Perhaps you have a question about CSP or menstrual cups let me know below.