Are your tampons and pads harming your body without you even knowing?
Tampons and pads are something that the majority of women require every single month, but did you know there are natural feminine hygiene alternatives to toxic tampons and pads? Reusable menstrual cups have become popular in recent years and not only are they far less toxic (made of silicone instead of bleached materials), they are also reusable, which saves a lot of money and also gives the environment (and our waterways) a break. You can also easily find non-bleached, organic tampons and pads. Are you wondering why conventional feminine menstrual products are harmful to begin with?
The problem is, many of these products are mostly made from non-cotton materials like rayon (which is made from cellulose fibres from bleached wood pulp), and wood fluff pulp (used as a filler). And while these materials are absorbent, they’re not the same as cotton. Plus, they can cause problems to your health especially if left inside your body. On top of it, conventional tampons and pads contain dyes, fragrances and super-absorbent chemicals. How are tampons dyed? With bleach. Think chlorine. That’s not really something that we want near our important private areas, especially not up inside our bodies. On top of this, tampon materials can leave behind fibers, which then create the perfect environment for bacteria growth. Not surprisingly, studies are coming out recently finding possible links between uterine problems and bleached tampons.
There’s also the issue of non-biodegradable plastic, similar to what is used in conventional diapers. The plastic that most feminine hygiene companies use in their pads and liners is polyethylene (PE). Made from petroleum, it is very polluting and requires a lot of chemicals. The end product is an indestructible plastic that will take hundreds of years to break down. Not a pretty sight. According to Luna Pads, it’s estimated that approximately 20 billion pads, tampons and applicators are sent to North American landfills every single year. Yikes!
So what can you use instead?
Thankfully, there are some other great options, from reusable options to organic, natural ones. Here are some of my recommended alternatives to conventional toxic tampons and pads.
Organic Tampons and Pads
Natracare – this is my favourite brand of organic feminine hygiene products. All Natracare products are made from certified organic and natural, plant-derived materials that are chemical and additive free, biodegradable, and contain only organic and natural ingredients sourced from sound ecologically managed producers. They’re also free from animal testing. All tampons and pads are completely chlorine-free and the company doesn’t use any synthetic materials or any chemical additives such as surfactants, fragrances, dyes, latex or lubricants. Awesome, right? Natracare also uses a bioplastic in their pads and liners, which is made from plant cellulose. This is a great alternative to polyethylene. Natracare products are sold around the world, so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding them in your area. Check out their website to search for locations on where to buy their products.
Seventh Generation – this is a great company making all kinds of products, from cleaning supplies to diapers to feminine hygiene products. Their tampons and pads are also made of 100% organic cotton free of any pesticides and are whitened without chemicals containing chlorine. There are also no fragrances or dyes in any of the products. We’ve used their diapers in the past when we required disposables as well as cleaning products and have been very happy with the quality.
Naty – this Swedish company makes some great products including diapers and sanitary pads and liners. I’m a big fan of their liners in particular. All of their products are made from renewable material and contain no oil-based plastics. They’re also fragrance free and chlorine-free. Even better, they’re 100% compostable and instead of plastic, they use a genetically modified-free corn-based film.
Reusable menstrual cups are usually made of medical grade silicone, shaped like a bell and are flexible to fit all women, and worn internally to collect menstrual flow. They can be worn during the day as well as overnight. Many women swear by these and wear nothing else. There can be a bit of a learning curve at first but once you get the hang of it, they are amazing. There is often a misconception that cups are gross, but you’d be surprised at how clean and comfortable they really are.
DivaCup – the DivaCup is one of the most popular reusable silicone cups. It also pays for itself in literally just a few months. One of the great parts about the DivaCup is that it can be worn for up to 10-12 hours (being emptied, washed and rinsed 2-3 times each day at minimum). Because it’s made of soft silicone, it softens with body heat and forms to your body. The DivaCup is free of atex, plastic, PVC, acrylic, acrylate, BPA, phthalate, elastomer, polyethylene, and also free of colors and dyes. The cup comes in 2 different sizes – 1 for pre-birth bodies – and 2 for post-birth bodies.
Moon Cup – another eco-friendly menstrual cup option, the Moon Cup works in the same way as the DivaCup. It is made of soft medical grade silicone,and is also latex-free, containing no dyes, BPA, toxins or bleaches. It’s also great for women with sensitive skin.
Lunette – another good reusable menstrual cup option, the Lunette works in the same way as the other two cups.
Another option is to go the reusable route when it comes to pads. There are so many companies now, including many Etsy sellers, making their own reusable pads and panty liners. While this option might not appeal to everyone, it’s a great alternative for many. It’s much more economical and also better for the environment.
Luna Pads – probably the most popular reusable pad company on the market, Luna Pads is a female-owned, social-based mission straight out of Canada. They have SO many different options as well as cute patterns, and their reusable pads can be used for anything from regular every-day panty liners to heavy menstrual cycles. They even have a great postpartum line, which is amazing. The Luna pads for menstrual cycles are made of a 2-part system (similar to cloth diapers!) that let you wear the same pad for the day, just changing out the removable insert. Their pads are also leak-proof. The Luna Pads website is full of information about the benefits of switching to reusable feminine products and they have tons of great feminine hygiene products for sale as well as their own lines.
New Moon Pads – this is another good option for reusable sanitary pads. Just available on their website, New Moon pads use a similar concept to Luna pads with their wing system. They also carry a variety of options including postpartum pads.
Do you have a favourite alternative to toxic tampons and pads? I’d love to hear!