When I initially heard about re-usable pads or the Diva Cup, I’m not going to lie, I was quite apprehensive. Firstly, we’ve grown up with disposable pads and tampons being around for so long, that I was unsure about stepping outside of that comfort zone and trying something new. Secondly, how could they be equally as absorbent and leak-protective as my former friends? Are they really to be trusted? Perhaps the ultimate test is, can I do squats, leg press, or go for a run during my period in complete confidence without feeling the beloved “gush”? Don’t worry, I will be discussing all of the above through-out this article, along with other details that were involved in my lovely transformation from disposable pads and tampons to the re-usable pad and Diva Cup.
What Urged Me to Make the Switch: The Wasteful and Chemical Aspect
Did you know that over the course of a menstruator’s life, they will use approximately 11,000 tampons or pads? In fact, it is estimated that in total 100 billion menstrual hygiene products are disposed of annually, and because they are not biodegradable and have been in contact with “human waste”, they are dumped into landfills every year. Needless to say, this creates an immense amount of waste. Not to mention, each tampon or pad takes roughly 500-800 years to fully decompose. Perhaps the more concerning part about these disposable products that I was not previously aware of, is the fact that a large proportion of the ingredients used to create disposable menstrual products do not need to be listed. For starters, most pads and tampons are bleached, and non-organic cotton can contain pesticides such as diuron, which has been linked to immune system suppression, cancers and reproductive issues. Also, some of them even have added fragrance, which raises even more concern. The more I thought about it, the more alarming it became to me, because our reproductive organ is our largest organ, also with the most permeable membrane. It is a very pH sensitive area, which requires a perfect balance of natural flora in order to maintain its equilibrium. This natural flora can be easily disrupted by nearly anything, including hormones, foods, excess moisture, medications, fragrances, etc. Other potentially harmful chemicals such as carbon disulfide, toluene, xylene, etc, have been found in menstrual products. With that being said, shouldn’t we know what we are putting down there and how it may affect us long-term? The other element about disposable menstrual products that began to concern me is the risk of toxic shock syndrome and the other chemicals or substances that are used to increase absorbency. If you’d like to learn more about some of the substances that are added to tampons and pads, I definitely invite you to do your own research, this way you can see where you personally stand on the topic of disposable pads and tampons. Nowadays, there are also other options including organic non-bleached tampons or pads, if you are interested in trying those before perhaps making the switch to reusable menstrual supplies.
A box of Organic Tampons and Pads available at EasyPeriod.ca
What Urged Me to Switch: Cost Effectiveness
As a college student who can only manage working part-time, I know the importance of pinching my pennies. I am always looking for ways that I can save money. As every menstruator has a different flow and cycle time, not every person will be spending the same amount on menstrual supplies every month. Some menstruators will spend more on supplies because they may have a heavier flow and a longer cycle, whereas others may only menstruate for 2-3 days and may have a very light cycle. Having said that, after doing a little math of my own I figured out that I spent approximately $15.00 a month on menstrual supplies. Annually, this comes to $180.00 dollars a year. Around 50% of the world’s population menstruates, just imagine how much money is generated collectively yearly from menstrual supplies alone. This may not seem like a great deal to a lot of people, but to someone like myself this is almost two months worth of groceries. It is unfathomable to imagine the hardships that menstruators experiencing homelessness or financial insecurity feel when attempting to buy products needed to support a normal bodily process. I began to do a little research, and started with the Diva Cup. The Diva cup ranges from about $35-$40, which is fairly pricy but they last about 1-2 years. Knowing this, I headed over to Walmart, and grabbed myself one along with a bottle of their Diva Wash, which is a pH balanced plant-based natural cleaner for the Diva Cup. Then, I figured I would mix it up a bit and went on the Lunapads website, and ordered myself one pair of the Luna Undies, which are underwear with built in leak protection. These would be ideal for anyone with a light flow or towards the end of your cycle. They also have built-in elastics where you can put an additional Lunapad for extra absorbency. I decided that for moderate to heavier days, I would buy a couple of the Luna Maxi Pads which were $18.99 each. You can choose your absorbency level and style on the website. In fact, the website even has a matchmaker quiz that will match you to a pad most suitable for your flow and lifestyle. By the way, did I mention that they come in a variety of colours and patterns?! I went with royal blue, and called it an online shopping day… About a week later, they came in the mail with a lovely hand written message and directions on how to wash them. It may sound strange, but I was excited to try them.
How did it go?
I decided to use my Diva Cup whenever I would be exercising, as well as the first two days of my cycle. I was astonished with the comfort level and security of it. I found myself fearfully going to the bathroom several times in the middle of my work out just to check that it was working properly and not leaking. I was really questioning the trust in my relationship with this new menstrual cup mechanism. I was pleasantly surprised, it held up, from heavy lifting to sprinting on the treadmill. However, I will admit that if it is not inserted correctly, it can leak. But after you get used to inserting it, you can feel when it is in the right place or if it needs to be adjusted. For this reason, I would recommend that for the first few times you use it, to wear a Luna pad panty liner just in case. As far as the reusable pads went, I was also pleased with the softness and absorbency potential of them. I did not think that a seemingly thin sheet of fabric could be so absorbent, not to mention so comfortable. I found that two of them were enough, as I would wash the first one as soon as I needed to, and then use the second one. By the time the second one was ready to be washed the first one would be ready to wear again. That is one thing that I will mention, is that it is important to stay on top of caring for and cleaning your Lunapads. I recommend first rinsing them with cold water, wringing them out and then tossing them in with your laundry with hypo-allergenic non-scented laundry detergent. The website also offers all types of additional swag for your Lunapads, such as bags for wet or dry pads, stain remover, etc. Overall, my transformation from disposable pads and tampons to the reusable pads and Diva Cup was a smooth one. I actually wish I had made the switch earlier, and find myself telling my friends all about it. “Get some reusable pads! Some of them even have jellyfish or flowers on them!” I have come to find that this transformation has enabled me to embrace my period rather than dread it. It may be a little bit more work, but for Mother Earth and the well-being of my very intimate and permeable friend, I am willing to do the extra work!