Thursday, October 8, 2009

Reusable Menstrual Products

After being curious about cloth diapers, I stumbled around on the Net and found cloth menstrual pads. Since I'm nosy, I clicked on the links and discovered there is a whole other world beside disposable. Well you know the mantra, "recycle, reduce, reuse."

So everyone has seen the commercials for Tampax and Carefree. The girls in the commercials look happy bouncing around saying that they have no leaks. Well disposable menstrual products are a mega-money making businesses. Cloth pads have been around longer, but they aren't advertised as much. Yep, ever since Eve got her period, women have had to develop ways to keep from "leaking." Traditional, they used rags. Hence the phrase "I'm on the rag." Then they developed cloth pads. Later it was disposable pads attached to a belt, tampons, and now the kind that stick to your undies (and you). But while those billion dollar manufacturers of disposables develop new ways of "plugging," so too the reusable menstrual product industry has developed new products. So I'm here to inform those eco-conscience minded of the new developments.

Cloth Pads: Just like cloth diapers, cloth pads come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, colors, designs, ect. Some manufacturers use materials like fleece, flannel, terry cloth, cotton, and bamboo. They have mini-pads, post-partum pads, regular pads, extra long pads, and pads for your thongs. Some use a pouch where you use as many inserts as needed, or an elastic to hold inserts. Other pads come stitched together as one unit. Some use Velcro; others use snaps to hold your cloth pads in place. To clean, just soak and throw in the washer later. These cloth pads last for years.

Sea Sponges: These are tampons that you insert by hand and rinse out with use. They don't last long, only 6 months.

Cups: These are like tampons in that you insert them, but they are shaped like cups. They come in silicon, latex, or natural rubber. Like cloth pads, they also come in a variety of colors. They last for years. They are boiled between periods and can be rinsed out and reinserted.

So what do I use, well I started out with cloth pads. I bought a set and love them. They work like disposable pads, but better. When it's hot, they don't stick to my legs. I also don't have to wonder around the store for the cheapest variety and the right size anymore. I just pull them out of my drawer. The company I went with is Glad Rags, but there are many. I also bought a Lady Cup, which is a product made in the Czech Republic. I read a number of extensive reviews and many women recommended this one. I thought that I would be able to try it, but I got pregnant. I'll have to wait a while to use it because like tampons, you have to wait until after post-partum.

Cloth rags are also produced by many stay-at-home moms. It's actually easy to make one. Wikihow has a number of patterns. You can also use one of your regular pads as a template for the size and shape that you want. If you're not that crafty, you can still order one from the Cloth Pad Shop. I haven't tried, but I bet you can send specks to any stay-at-home mom who can whip you up what you're looking for.

Yes, for some women this sounds gross, but tampons and disposable pads all use bleach which gets leeched into our water supply. And disposable pads typically have other chemicals like gels and plastics that don't break down but end up in land fills. I did a calculation before I switched. I bought and used approximately 2,016 disposable menstrual products, which cost me about $336. That's an awful lot of chemicals and money that I can't ever get back. Although, I've spent much money on reusable menstrual products, I will be smarter and make my own which is considerably cheaper. I'm a lot happier with my cloth pads, and I'm doing my part to help the planet.

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