I think almost everyone is trying to live slightly more environmentally friendly now, the general public seem to be getting more and more aware of things like disposable items, unnecessary packaging, the ethics of companies, and the ingredients that go into things. It’s brilliant, I see people taking their reusable coffee cups out with them all the time now, and more and more people are getting into green beauty (wahey!)
But something that’s still a little shied away from is our periods, and the products, waste, and big (baddie) corporations that seem to come hand in hand with them. Although I say “shied away from” but I am pleased to say that many, many bloggers have already spoken on this subject – I am certainly not the first to write about this. But saying that, I do know that many people are still very nervous and unsure about the alternative period products out there – and reasonably so I think. When, after having spent months of your early teenage years working out which products work best, which ones don’t let you down and leak and leave rust coloured stains on everything… When you’ve then finally been dealing with your periods pretty much fine thank you for the last ten, twenty years, you just don’t really want to change things. Also our vaginas are pretty important, and there’s a delicate balance going on down there constantly… I speak as someone that has suffered from cystitis (I KNOW, I KNOW IT’S A DIFFERENT HOLE) and thrush what feels like endlessly. I do not want to be fiddling around with things down there, if I get my flora out of whack, that’s it, thrush for me!
So you don’t want new leaks, and you don’t want infections – pretty reasonable reasons to me. But when you start thinking about the waste issue, it’s undeniable that periods create a LOT. Plus, reusable products can end up saving you so much money, PLUS less panic runs to the corner shop for tampons. Changing period habits is hard. But… I did it, so you really can too, and honestly, it was worth it!!
A few years back, when my first babe was in nappies we had been using reusables. I was on facebook groups for advice on how to use them, and also to buy second hand ones (that sounds a bit grim now I’m out of that world. But it really wasn’t I promise!) I suddenly started to notice that some little companies also sold washable, reusable nipple pads, and some sold reusable sanitary towels. I was seriously curious, and also pretty amazed as I honestly thought that everyone just used asda tampons like I did. This opened up a whole new world for me, and I not only discovered washables, but also Mooncups, diva cups, soft cups, all the cups! sponges, more cups, and Thinx pants (Although I’m pretty sure those I found out about much much later).
As a tampon user I couldn’t really think of anything I’d like to try LESS than a washable pad (bear with me, I do change my mind later). So I started off with a Mooncup.
Mooncup – £19.99
I was frightened of the Mooncup at first. I have super heavy flow for the first couple of days, and honestly tampons can’t help me on those days. I need super giant HUGE tampons PLUS pads for the first few days, and I remember thinking “how on earth is this tiny cup going to cope?” Luckily I realised very quickly that the cup can hold more than tampons (three times more than a regular one! A super plus extra tampon holds 18mls and my mooncup holds 29.3mls! 29.3!!!!!) I was also frightened of inserting it, but again, this wasn’t a problem. The moon cup squished up small, (I found it easiest to fold it in half) and then wasn’t so scary looking. You can use water based lubricants, or just plain old water, to help insert it if you want to.
I did find that the stem on my mooncup started rubbing and pinching my vaginal wall, so I had to trim it, almost completely off. But I found that removing it was still totally easy to do. And since the stems gone I haven’t felt it ever again! Once inside I just forget about it.
Obviously the Mooncup is one particular shape, and although it suits me, I’m sure it’s not perfect for everyone. So I’m glad there are other options out there. Do look up the DivaCup, or the Lunette – both of which I’ve heard good things about.
Eco Femme Organic Panty Liner – £10.99 for 3
Since having my second baby my periods have changed somewhat. I still get my super heavy ridiculous days, but then suddenly it changes to just a little spotting. Now I could just continue wearing my Mooncup for this, but when you are emptying out a third of a drop of blood every half a day for four days, it just seems a bit like overkill. So this is where I thought I try out washable pads.
I decided to just try pantyliners as the flow is so light on those days. I bought the Eco Femme organic liners from plastic free shop InGreens. I chose these because 1. they are SO PRETTY. and 2. for every pad you purchase, Eco Femme give another to a girl in India through the Pad for Pad programme. And while I’m not going to go into it right now – period poverty is a very real, very heartbreaking thing that is going on right now all over the world – including here in the UK. Definitely something to look into if you don’t know much about – as we all need to do something about it.
I’m not going to lie, even with my light flow, I was concerned with leaks, smells, and just a wet feeling between my legs! Knowing how well the reusable nappies worked with my babies did put my mind at ease a little… but when I actually tried the liners out I was so, so pleased with the results. No smells, and only a little wetness if I left it on for too long, and on a much heavier day. And not one leak – even though these are just pantyliners -not pads!! If I was a pad kinda girl, I would certainly be up for trying washables after having a go with these. No where near as scary as I had thought!
So reusables and washable sanitary items were no where NEAR as scary as I had originally thought. But I do know that there is still a time and a place for disposables. Some people just won’t be able to use cups or washable pads for whatever reason – maybe there’s nowhere safe for them the clean them, maybe they are ill and don’t have the energy, or even maybe it’s someone like you, going on holiday – camping, or what have you. I can definitely still see reasons to use disposables. But you can still make more ethical choices even in the world of one use items.
Natracare make organically certified, chlorine free, perfume free feminine hygiene products. Many of them are also plastic free, rayon free and compostable. Even the pads are wrapped in a compostable starch film. I’m seriously impressed with them and think they are a perfect option if you just can’t do reusables. Susie Hewson the founder of Natracare, started the business back in 1989 – and I think that makes her a bit of a feminist hero. She worked hard to create feminine hygiene products that not only were more environmentally friendly, but also more respectful of women’s bodies and our delicate balances. I’ve personally tried the tampons*, pads* and liners*, and was really pleased with them all.
Periods isn’t all about cups, pads and liners though. There are so many other things that come into it, and so many other products and tips that can help and support you and your body during your menstrual cycle. I mean hot water bottles, and baths spring to mind instantly. Femna have been making teas and oils created as natural remedies, to tackle PMS, cramps, fertility, menopause discomfort..you know.. all the joys that come with being a woman.
I’ve been trying their Red Sea tea*, which contains “Alpine’s Lady Mantle,Yarrow, Tansy, Shepherd’s Purse, Stinging Nettle, Balm”. A beautiful blend rich in iron to give the body more strength. You are meant to drink it for a week prior to your period, but unfortunately mine can be a little erratic, and I was only able to start drinking it the day before (when I just weirdly knew my period was coming – does anyone else pick up on the tiny signs?) As a huge herbal tea fan, I did actually really enjoy drinking the Red Sea tea. Nettle tea is usually my go to, and I found the Red Sea Tea much tastier and flavoursome than my usual blend. In fact, I pretty much carried on drinking it after my period ended! (And I caught my boyfriend drinking it too… I don’t THINK he was on his period at the time… HA!
Femna seems like a really lovely company, and I am certainly looking forward to trying more from them.
Also you can get 10% off Femna products by using the code “sashafemna”.
*These products were kindly gifted to me, but I will only ever give my honest opinion in my reviews.