The menstrual cycle. Always such fun, right? Growing up, I dreaded the week every month when I would be doubled over in pain, emotional, and upset about the mess I had to deal with. Fast forward 20 years, and I rarely have cramps or out-of-control emotions (well, at least not caused by hormones). Dealing with the mess of it all is what I want to write about today.
If you’ve ever sent a significant other to the store to pick something up, you may have had to field a panicked phone call. The choices can seem overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be. The options can be broken down into three categories: tampons, pads, and menstrual cups. You’ve never heard of a menstrual cup? I hadn’t either until a year ago. They are a fantastic invention!
Let’s start with tampons. I used these for decades. In high school I was on the swim team and didn’t think there was another choice. I was always a little concerned about the warning label on the side of the box that said, “may cause toxic shock syndrome.” What is that? The Mayo Clinic has this to say:
Possible signs and symptoms of toxic shock syndrome include:
- A sudden high fever
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- A rash resembling a sunburn, particularly on your palms and soles
- Muscle aches
- Redness of your eyes, mouth and throat
Scary stuff. Another concern is that tampons are typically made with GMO cotton. We know now that GMO crops have a significantly higher pesticide load than non-GMO crops. In addition to the glycophate you may be inserting into your body, tampons may contain other toxic chemicals that are unlabeled due to the products status as a “medical device.” You can read more about these toxins in Dr. Mercola’s article.
Sanitary Pads can have the same problem. The good news is that you are not inserting them into your body. However, they are still touching intimate areas of your body. Several alternatives are available. Reusable pads are available for purchase at Amazon and Etsy.com. Made of bamboo or organic cotton, these pads are much healthier for both you and the environment. I use these primarily for those days when I am only spotting. After years of washing diapers, I found these little extra work.
For the majority of “that” week, I use a menstrual cup. Though they have been around for years, they seem somewhat of a closely guarded secret. The cups are made of medical grade silicone and inserted into the vagina. There is a bit of a learning curve, but once familiar they are comfortable and easy to use. Each day you empty and reinsert the cup once or twice then go on with your day. They have made my life a great deal easier and do not seem to cause the cramping that tampons did. I purchased a Blossom Cup on Amazon. I am told the Diva cup is also available at Whole Foods.
For some reason the menstrual cycle seems to be a taboo subject. As women, we all have to deal with it at some point in our lives. If we are healthy, this may last well into our 50s. Let’s help each other out by sharing what works and what doesn’t. If you have found a great product, please comment below.