10 December 2010

Frugal Friday - feminine hygeine

What do you use when you are menstruating???

Do you use tampons or disposable pads?  Did you know the average woman will use approximately 16,800 tampons/pads in their fertile life.  That's alot of money going in the bin.  Not to mention the negative health issues that can arise from these products.  This site actually has a calculator built in so you can add up the cost, go on!  I dare you!

The fact that these products often contain bleaches, perfumes  and other chemicals should be reason enough to think twice about using them.  Some women have also noticed that once they changed to more natural alternatives their bleeding lightened and the cycle became shorter.  I will vouch for this too.

So what can you use as an alternative?
There are many alternatives that you can use.  Personally the thought of using cloth pads or similar scared the crap out of me.  All I could think of was the blood, how to clean them and if they would be messy.  I am sure this deters many others too.
After having my children I found tampons incredibly uncomfortable, I hated disposable pads because they smelt perfumed and they were very drying so I really had to give cloth a go.  I bought a couple of pads online and after one cycle I was hooked!

Cloth Pads
I have made my own since then.  As I used cloth nappies for my kids I used scrap fabric from those I had made and it was so cheap and easy.  you can play with the design to suit your needs and make thinner ones for light days and more absorbent for heavier flows.  I found using hemp fabric the best as it is very absorbant.  Patterns can be found on the net and this site is really good for tutorials.  Althernatively there are heaps of online stores where you can buy pre-made pads, such as Wemoon and Moon Pads.

So you have your pads, what next?  Well use them the same as any other pads.  It may take a cycle or two to work out how absorbent they are etc .  If you are out, take a ziplock bag with you, keep a clean pad inside and then just swap over. 
Cleaning them is easy.  I keep a bucket of cold water in the laundry and throw them straight in there.  I change the water every day as it can get a bit whiffy and I just throw them in the wash when I do a load.  Any lingering stains will come out after a day on the line in the sun.  You can use the soaking water on the garden if you like as it is filled with nutrients.

Sea Sponges
I haven't used these personally but have heard good reports.  They are as they say, cleaned sea sponges about the size of half a fist.  These are dampened and  inserted into the vagina to absorb the blood, when full after 4-6hrs they are rinsed under a tap and squeezed out then re-inserted.  They should be replaced at least every six months.  You can buy these in various health shops and online.

Menstrual cup
These are really popular as a long lasting, reusable option.  There are several brands available but they are all very similar in style.  Again they are simply inserted into the vagina and removed every few hours, emptied down the sink and rinsed before reinserting.  These do take a bit of practice to get them inserted correctly to avoid discomfort and leakage.  I have tried one but just didn't like it, but that is not to say they aren't great!  I think they are amazing and wish I could use one.
This site offers a great tutorial on how to fold your cup for insertion.  You can find heaps of sites regarding cups and the different sorts available.

I have not bought tampons or disposable pads for five years now and it is such a good feeling to walk past all of them in the supermarket.  Not to mention the environmental savings and financial savings!

Do yourself a favour and try something natural next month :)

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Christie said...

Kelli, this post is awesome. Great information and I will be checking out those links. I especially love your idea of using the nutrient filled soaking water on the garden. Well done!

MultipleMum said...

I have been thinking about trying some of these out. Tat from Cloth Nappies are Fun has done some posts about it as well. I must say that even though I am a cloth nappy user, I am a little nervous. I think the cup is the ticket and maybe I will add one to my Christmas Wishlist?

Annette said...

I have been using my LadyCup Menstrual Cup for a little over 18 months now, and I must say I LOVE the freedom it gives me!

In the past, I had always used tampons, and because of CFS and other issues/medications, they caused a LOT of dryness, and were just generally uncomfortable. I also couldn't STAND the way they smelled!

After a little practice on insertion, and trimming the stem to the right length, I have no problems or discomfort wearing or inserting/removing the cup at all.

I now use only my LadyCup and have a couple of cloth pads around as 'back-up'.

For you ladies reading about alternative methods, give one of these a try! Not only will you save money, but you're doing your body a favor aswell!

Tat said...

I bought a Lunette cup and some cloth pads to try a few months ago. I loved the Lunette so much that I hardly got to use the pads so far(only for backup and for those days when I think I might be getting my period, but I am not sure).

Jen said...

I have cloth pads and they are gorgeous! It took a long time before I bought them, I have to admit I was grossed out when I first came across them. I was taking my sisters laundry down and was holding her cloth pad and wondering "What is this?" when I realised what it was I think I dropped it and went and washed my hands, I know so immature...

Well my sister kept on nagging me about it and the more I thought about the more I realised I was being silly. After all I wasn't grossed out by my underwear so why should a pad be any different? So I went and bought some, I was thinking of making some but the machine to put in the snaps would cost too much.

Anyway I bought mine from saucytots.com and randumosity.yolasite.com They both have really nice designs and I like to support home businesses. The material is darker on the absorbent part so stains don't show up easily.

Apart from being enviro friendly I like them because they are far more comfortable than normal pads which I find get humid and smelly. Plus you don't need as much because they are more absorbent and don't smell, so you don't need to change as often. I get by easily with just 14 pads where before I would end up buying a box and a half.

No more worrying if you've run out either! Great post, looking forward to reading more tips!