MOON CUPS & the exciting adventure away from toxic tampons
Women bleed from the vagina. Monthly. It is a fact. Our sex has to deal with a staining red flood once a month that ruins our sexy panties, creates embarrassing moments, and alters our hormones making us waver between needing rest, attention, and heaps of chocolate. Another stress we barely have time for, is the debate over the safest option for clogging the outpouring.
First and foremost, let's analyze the options we have. Most common are of course tampons. I grew up in the USA and I'll tell you that after a year in Australia, the states are far behind in their tampon-game. Most tampons are wrapped in heaps of plastic and also use plastic applicators! This single-use plastic is killing mermaids in the foulest way. Please avoid these at all costs. As we learn more and more about how easily plastic leaches chemicals, the last place we want toxins is our precious baby-making uterus. But we'll talk more about chemicals shortly.
PADS. My personal reaction is, yuck. Most are a weird mix of cotton, plastic, and adhesives to clasp to your underpants and do their best to catch the flow. Not practical for yoga pants, swimsuits, or being active--so my lifestyle is not suitable for this option. I find them uncomfortable and diaper-like. The smaller panty liners I suppose are closer to being biodegradable, but again made from bleached white cotton--an issue I will expand on further in this piece.
In Australia, you would struggle to find a tampon with an applicator. All tampons come in cute little purse-sized boxes that look like they may contain lollies or candy. A tampon is simply the dense cotton and string, and yes, you use your finger to push it up inside yourself. Hopefully you wash your hands after you pee, in which case, this shouldn't be too big of an issue. Unfortunately, they are wrapped up tightly in plastic. This maintains their shape and keeps them clean.
There are a few brands with cardboard applicators that wrap the tampons in paper. I suppose this is a better option, if you are psyched on tampons.
However, this next bit, may un-psych you.
Tampons are toxic.
We are not told this, because tampon and sanitary pad manufacturers are not required to disclose ingredients because feminine hygiene products are considered "medical devices."
Let's start with clean, white tampons. We've been conditioned to associate white with cleanliness, sanitation, and health. Don't be fooled. (watch out, science ahead!) Tampons get their ultra-whiteness from chlorine bleach which can create toxic dioxins (chemically-related compounds that are highly toxic and can cause reproductive & developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones & also cause abnormal tissue and cell growth which could lead to cancer) as well as other unsafe disinfectant by-products (chemical substances that can form during a reaction of a disinfectant with naturally present organic matter). Once dioxins enter the body, they last a long time (half life around 7-11 years) because of their chemical stability and ability to be absorbed by fat tissue, where they are stored in the body. The EPA reported that dioxin has no "safe" level of exposure! Eek.
Another concern is that conventional tampons contain pesticides. BILLIONS of dollars are spent every year to keep pests off cotton crops. And in my home country of USA, approximately 94% of all cotton is genetically engineered. If your tampons or pads are scented, you can bet it's not from a drop of organic essential oil. It's practically a chemical soup, laced with artificial colours, adhesives, a range of plastics to give them flex and shape all which have their own set of risks such as leaching contaminants linked to hormone disruption, cancer, birth defects, and infertility.
This toxic bullet is the normal way to stop our bleeding! And we put them where? In the most sensitive, absorbent area of our body. Where we hope to have healthy pregnancies. MIND FUCKED YET??
Let's talk absorbency. Skin is our largest and thinnest organ, which makes it highly permeable. Especially vaginal skin. Anything that comes into contact with our skin will find it's way into the bloodstream for distribution throughout the body. Hence, the philosophy "if you wouldn't eat it, don't put it on your skin." But chemicals on our skin may be worse even than eating them; at least enzymes in our saliva and stomach help break down and flush out chemicals from our body. When toxins touch our skin, they go straight to the blood where they can accumulate. Heavy.
NOT TO MENTION THAT PLASTIC NEVER BIO-DEGRADES, so all of these blood-soaked plastic-ridden items will be flushed and floating around the water-ways for eons. In an ocean nearby, the mermaids are puking at this reality.
Perhaps because I am a yogi and live in Byron Bay where bare feet are welcomed everywhere, the female is generally revered as a magical goddess, and most humans you meet have a full veggie patch and herb garden that is used more than the fridge or pantry, I have encountered and embraced the magical moon cup aka the "menstrual cup."
I even have a few friends who literally squat in the dirt or their garden and allow their monthly flow to fertilize the earth as a sacred offering. I personally do not have the time or privacy at the moment for such rituals...so, back to Moon cups! ;)
Fact is, menstrual cups have been around since the 1930's! Moon cups are great for many reasons. They take a bit of fiddling to get used to, but I have since thrived with the cup through summer beach parties, long days in an office, and a recent boating expedition in Fiji with no bathrooms and no trash cans, meaning tampons were definitely not an option.
You insert the moon cup by squeezing the cup part together, effectively flattening it. Then you use your fingers to push it up inside, where it pops back into it's cup shape. When first getting the hang of it, it's recommended to squat on the ground to get leverage and ease her on up inside tilting back towards the small of your back, not the top of your head. The vaginal muscle will keep it in place. The little ribbed stem is how you pull them out. Sometimes, because the shape is designed for suction to the vaginal wall to prevent leakage, you may reach a bit higher up with your finger to gently break the suctioning seal. This may take a bit of getting used to. Remember your first time having sex? Awkward, but now glorious! And even better, this is not painful AT ALL. So, PERSIST! Then you dump the blood into the toilet, give her a rinse, and reinsert. At the end of the monthly period, sterilize the cup in boiling water and/or an epsom salt bath.
Make sure your Moon cup is made from special medical grade non-allergenic silicone. Silicone is derived from silica, which is one of the most abundant minerals on earth. Medical grade silicone is also tested for biocompatibility, which means that it is compatible with the human body and not reactive with body fluids and tissue.
Moon cups do not absorb your blood and other natural vaginal mucuses, but simply contain the blood until convenient for you to pour them into the toilet. They do not interfere with the vaginal environment, or the natural moistures and pH levels. Unlike tampons, the medical grade silicon will not deposit fibres in the vaginal wall that could lead to tearing and toxic shock syndrome. Moon cups contain no bleaches, deodorisers, or absorbency gels, and will not cause irritation--even to those with sensitive skin.
Not to mention, one reusable moon cup costs about $35, whereas you likely spend at least $10 a month on sanitary items. Which is $120 per year. If you got your period around age 12 and won't stop until age 50, that's close to $4.5k spent just on sanitary items. Reassess your budget and invest in a moon cup, which, with proper cleaning and storage, can last you five to ten years.
Moon Cups solving one massive kink in our often hectic moon cycles. A reusable, safe, carefree solution. I'm relieved to never think about creepy, chemical-rich tampons again. A victory for vaginas!
- World Health Organization: www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs225/en/
- Dr. Mercola for Huffington Post: www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/feminine-hygiene-products_b_3359581.html
- WebMD: www.webmd.com/women/guide/menstrual-cup