Natural Tampons Only… Period.

It’s that time of the month…are you taking care of yourself?

Periods. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. They are messy, beautiful, and connect women in a very real way. My period is tough. I struggle with cramps, make constant trips to the restroom, experience mood swings. But now, it seems I’ve been doing damage to my body ever since I was thirteen and used my first tampon. Fast forward ten years –I have since been using that same brand tampon, without knowing any information about its contents, and without thinking anything of it.

Until recently, after reading a couple articles about tampon use gone wrong. It’s quite scary and honestly, it made me a bit angry to learn that I was so unaware, not discussing with fellow women about the most absorbent part of our bodies. So, let’s get real, break it down a bit, learn something and make a change.

First of all, do you know what you are putting inside your body each month? Have you ever flipped the box over and read the components? It’s crazy. I’m a three-year vegetarian who likes to shop organic, and is always trying to utilize the most natural of beauty products. I’m pretty much a nut about ingredients. But for some reason, I never, ever, thought twice about my tampon. It just became routine; something I have been doing for so long now that I neglected to consider their safety.

The Ugly. Pesticides, chemicals, synthetics, dyes, wrapped inside a plastic applicator. These things — all of them — could be hidden inside your tampon. Synthetic cotton tampons are typically a blend of artificial fibers, polyester, rayon and more. The better-sounding choice would be 100% cotton, but it is a very dirty crop, often sprayed with harsh chemicals and pesticides. While feminine products are regulated, the ratio of some big brands’ ingredients could simply just be at the bare minimum. Your body is a sponge, and may be absorbing all of those scary things, for hours at a time, while on your period.

The Good. You have the power to take care of yourself. To change the way you live. There are many choices of all-natural, organic tampons available. There are also other natural feminine products in sponges, pads, cups and cloths that may be right for you! Your product of choice may work perfectly for your lifestyle, though impractical to another woman, but none of that matters. Making an effort to be aware and make changes, even if it’s a tiny one in a better direction, is wonderful. You are now informed, and have the chance to spread the word!

Tips:

Find brands that are happy to share the full list of ingredients used in their tampons.

I feel better about 100% cotton over synthetics, but make sure that it is cleaned safely, without harsh chemicals like bleach.

Find what is right for you. Don’t be afraid to try a few different brands each period. I have neglected to try anything else since I was a teenager until now. It’s all very personal.

Change tampons every few hours to decrease bacteria build up.

Stay hydrated, be active and get rest. These three things will keep you happy while nature does its thing.

Let your girlfriends know! We all need to take care of each other.

+Have you been paying attention to what’s inside your tampon? What ways do you stay happy and healthy throughout your cycle? Let me know in the comments!

Follow FP Madisyn on her Instagram + take a peek at her blog!

Comments

  1. This is SO important! Thank you for jumping on the alternative hygiene for folks who menstruate. This is something I spend my energy and life blood (pun) education and empowering people to consider.

    I am working on the final stages of a zine called Thicker Than Water. The first edition is called Bad Blood and is made to education young folks who menstruate about the dangers of the hygiene industry and how to take charge of your own health.

    I am still looking for stories on “first experiences” and “personal experiences” as well as a few illustrations and prose on body love!!! If you want to contribute, learn more, share your story, or just chat!!, email me at my CorrinMagditch (at) gmail.

    Thank you again, Madisyn for contributing this piece!

  2. YES! I would also recommend a menstrual cup! At first it creeped me out, but I eventually realized that the change would 100% be worth it.

    Let me tell you, it was the best decision I could’ve made! I no longer have to worry about carrying/buying tampons or “subtly” going to the bathroom. AND my cramps went away and there’s zero risk of getting Toxic Shock. I can leave my cup in all day, and I only change it when I get home. It’s incredible.

    You guys should do a (monthly, or have different people test specific products) series on alternative hygiene products! Maybe test out cups, sponges, reusable pads, etc. and share your favorites! Those of us that menstruate need to know that there are options. Great article! <3

  3. Thank you for talking about this! For years I used tampons with no problems, but somehow after 24, my periods got awful (note: I did switch to the cheapo store brand tampons). I chalked it up to hormones… I mean, seems logical, right? But I started looking at menstrual cups because I didn’t like the environmental impact of tampons. I found tons of other women claiming their cramps cut way down after switching so I figured it was a worth a try. I mean, anything to not be miserable, right?

    IT WAS SO WORTH IT. I will never go back to tampons. Only when I stopped using them did I realize my body was literally rejecting those chemicals and trying to force them out, hence the “someone is trying to rip my guts out” feeling. Even just using pads helps a ton.

    I would also be interested in seeing how the FP writers find different alternative hygiene products, if it is something they are comfortable talking about. No one should be in the misery I was in because of commercial tampons.

  4. Ladies. It is time to stop wasting so many resources on our vaginas. There’s the box, the plastic wrap, the paper instructions, the tampon itself. Just another industry propped up on resource extraction, not to mention being completely owned and dominated by men. i suggest THE DIVA CUP! What a lovely and healthy alternative. I was skeptical, but my girlfriends have turned me on to it and I am a beloved convert. Reusable, sustainable and allows you to truly keep track of your “flow” and coloration, which can be indicators for any imbalances you find in the body. Check it out.

  5. For those looking for a natural pad/tampon brand try Natracare. It’s all I’ve ever used and I love it. However, I have not tried the tampons yet.

  6. Oh my goodness, thank you for writing this article! This was a serious issue for me when I was in high school, and I went to the doctor for what I thought was a yeast infection that kept coming back every month for about 2 years. She said it was a skin irritation, prescribed a topical ointment (which seemed to help, until I ran out of it), and sent me on my way. It wasn’t until a year or so later that I came across info about cloth menstrual pads/reusable menstrual cups, and decided to give that a try.

    Boom. Problem solved. Never had an issue since. I have super sensitive skin, and I must have been reacting to something in the disposable products that I had been using for years. And bonus: my awful cramps – you know the really REALLY awful ones that make you sick and wake you up at 4 in the morning in a cold sweat? Yeah, those. – well, they pretty much disappeared.

    I’ve been using these :http://lunapads.com and these: http://gladrags.com along with the Diva Cup or Mooncup for almost 10 years and honestly, I’ve never been more comfortable during that time of the month. (By the way, if you’re thinking that using reusable menstrual products would be super gross to deal with, I promise, they’re not. It’s a bit of an adjustment for sure, but I’ve found that they’re actually a lot less gross than the disposable ones, which really surprised me. They’re super comfortable, and far less, er, smelly…)

    Also worth noting… I went back to disposables for a few months just to see what would happen, and wouldn’t you know it, all of the issues I had before came right back. And they cleared up when I switched back. Huh…. guess I’m sticking with what works!

    Okay, sorry for the essay… :P

  7. Oh my goodness, thank you for writing this article! This was a serious issue for me when I was in high school, and I went to the doctor for what I thought was a yeast infection that kept coming back every month for about 2 years. She said it was a skin irritation, prescribed a topical ointment (which seemed to help, until I ran out of it), and sent me on my way. It wasn’t until a year or so later that I came across info about cloth menstrual pads/reusable menstrual cups, and decided to give that a try.

    Boom. Problem solved. Never had an issue since. I have super sensitive skin, and I must have been reacting to something in the disposable products that I had been using for years. And bonus: my awful cramps – you know the really REALLY awful ones that make you sick and wake you up at 4 in the morning in a cold sweat? Yeah, those. – well, they pretty much disappeared.

    I’ve been using these :http://lunapads.com and these: http://gladrags.com along with the Diva Cup or Mooncup for almost 10 years and honestly, I’ve never been more comfortable during that time of the month. (By the way, if you’re thinking that using reusable menstrual products would be super gross to deal with, I promise, they’re not. It’s a bit of an adjustment for sure, but I’ve found that they’re actually a lot less gross than the disposable ones, which really surprised me. They’re super comfortable, and far less, er, smelly…)

    Also worth noting… I went back to disposables for a few months just to see what would happen, and wouldn’t you know it, all of the issues I had before came right back. And they cleared up when I switched back. Huh…. guess I’m sticking with what works!

    Okay, sorry for the essay…

  8. I don’t menstruate any more but for that last 15 years or so I used natural sponges… nice dense ones that I trim to size…. I rinsed them out during each use then I soaked them in cooled boiled water with a few drops of tea tree oil or lavender to keep them clean and air dried to wait till they were needed again for the next period…. No waste… completely natural….after the initial outlay free and personally I like the hands on side of it…

  9. Thankfully I’m well past that. When I started I used a tampon because that’s what mom used. I had horrible cramps. So bad I had to stay home sometimes. All this lasted from 7 to 10 days. After my first baby I was told to use a pad until I had healed. OK so far. Luckily I had no periods while breastfeeding. When I started up again I was going to use up the pads I had before going back to tampons. Lo and behold my cramps were less intense. I used tampons next time and Bad cramps. I was a pad girl from then on! My daughters have found the same thing goes for them. I started thinking about it and realized that for me I was plugging everything in and that all that dead stuff was backing up into my body. Instead of cleaning me I was blocking that process. I have since found that certain foods must be avoided starting 3 or 4 days before I began my period. For 1 of my daughters’ it’s soda, which she craves just before she begins. For me it’s any kind of bean. I wish I had the alternatives we have now. I would definality try something reusable. and better able to stop ‘accidents’ from happening. I hope what I’ve said here helps someone. It’s a subject no one talks about and half the population needs the information.

  10. This is a very important topic to put on the table. I am pleasantly surprised that it is on the FP blog. There are clearly themes of conscious consumerism all over this blog, but very rarely do we see topics that pertain specifically to the female body’s beautiful anatomy. I would also add that tampons are very wasteful. The packaging is excessive and it is all landfill bound. I have recently switched to the diva cup. I was definitely hesitant at first, but I figured that I should be practicing the environmentalism that I preach. Within 2 days I felt extremely grateful to whomever came up with the diva cup! It is a life saver and so easy to use. You don’t have to worry about toxic shock syndrome and you aren’t adding to the earth’s waste dilemma! I encourage all women to consider this option, but I know it is a very personal one. Rock on ladies!

  11. For those that use the Diva Cup, how do you deal with the rinsing? At my job there is only a multi stall women’s restroom so no private sink.

  12. Hey Katie,
    I’ve been using the Diva Cup for about 6 months now. One of the great things about it is that you can keep it in for up to 12 hours. So if you’re in a situation where you aren’t able to rinse it out, just time it right so you wont need to. I didn’t think I’d love using it as much as I do honestly, I wish I’d started using it years ago.

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