When we first get our periods, we start using pads until not long into our menstrual journey we decide we are ready for tampons. So, for the last 15 years I haven't questioned my monthly ritual and have paid a small fortune to tampon companies.
It wasn’t until I was speaking to a few friends who mentioned they used the menstrual cup (diva cup) that my opinion of them begun to change. I first thought they were quite off putting, but I can always be quite quick to judge and resistant to change.
I had also never seen the need to change from tampons, but that was because I never stopped to actually research them and understand more alternatives.
There are online studies highlighting the concern over potentially toxic chemicals (pesticides, chlorine, fragrance, and all sorts of other harmful chemicals) found in pads and tampons.
Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is caused by toxins produced by bacteria and studies have shown that using high-absorbency tampons can increase the risk of TSS.
Non-organic products are made from cotton that's been sprayed with chemical pesticides, destroying biodiversity and potentially resulting in lethal pesticide poisoning in cotton workers.
It will take around 500 to 800 years for each pad or tampon to decompose 1
I then thought about the plastic packaging and applicators, polyester contained in the string of tampons and even glue in tampon cords… All of that is going into landfill. Every month I was throwing away so many non-recyclable products and just turning a blind eye.
According to the Women's Environmental Network pads are made up of around 90% plastic, which ends up in landfill or in seas and rivers.
In 2010, a UK beach clean found an average of 23 sanitary pads and 9 tampon applicators per kilometre of British coastline.
A great tool to see how much waste you will generate in your lifetime is this menstrual waste calculator. It takes 2 seconds but results are pretty frightening!!
My trial and review of alternatives
I didn’t need anymore motivation to try out some alternatives and here are my reviews:
Organic tampons review:
- Pros: They are free of any pesticides and the cotton is deemed better quality.
- Cons: I thought they felt quite flimsy and difficult to get in and out.
- Do I use now: No, I didn't even finish the box.
- Diva cup model 1 review: I initially bought the smaller size as I didn’t know there were 2 sizes, but I found I was still leaking so bought model 2.
Diva cup model 2 review: Recommended for over 30s and also women who have given birth.
- Pros: Made of 100% medical grade silicone. No added chemicals (no BPA), latex, dyes or plastics. Reuse for up to 1 year so cost effective. You can leave in for 12 hours so great if you are busy with your kids and find yourself stressing out about changes during the day and possibly forgetting every 4 hours. Can’t feel anything once it’s in.
- Cons: It is a little fiddly at first as you need to fold it up and then it pops into place when inside, but you quickly get the hang of it. You do have to empty it twice a day so you need to be able to pour it out and clean it properly
- Do I use it now: Yes. I have had mine for around 6 months and haven’t looked back! I think it’s the best menstrual cup but there are other brands available.
- ModiBodi undies review: I found out about these through my cousin who uses when the end of her period is too light to warrant the cup, but just enough to ruin your undies if you go free. Her review to me before I purchased them:
“I’ve slept in them and exercised in them, and have literally never felt dryer - they’ve even moisture wicked my sweat away”
“ You know when you wear a pad and it feels like you’re sitting in your own filth? This is not that”
“I’m so dry and comfy and do not even feel gross!!!”
“I got the seamless bikini and am pretty stoked to report that it’s actually pretty seamless! I thought it would be cutting in everywhere but they’re so comfy”
- Pros: all of the above. I agree with her review and there has been no leaking either. Is cost effective longer term. Better for the environment.
- Cons: they are quite pricey and you need a couple of pairs so that you can rotate them while you’re using them.
- Do I use it now: Yes I bought 2 pairs of the Seamfree Bikini Moderate/Heavy Black / 12/M. Love them and been using them about 2 months now.
After 15 years of using tampons every month I am actually really happy with the alternatives. Even if I didn’t make the switch because of the potentially toxic concerns of tampons, or their awful environmental impact, I still love the diva cup and ModiBodi for their convenience and use.
Although it’s only been around 6 months I don’t see any turning back and am quite surprised I didn’t look into something sooner.
There are other brands for the what I have mentioned above they are just the ones that I was recommended and really like. No money or commission is made from affiliates.
I would love to hear your thoughts and if you decide to make the switch!!
1 Book: How to save your planet one object at a time. Dr Tara Shine.