A guest blog post about Feminine Hygiene Products by angel, goddess, mother, wife, sister, and my good friend Tarah Milsap
Acronym of the day:
RUMPS -- Re-Usable Menstrual Products
Types of RUMPS available:
Cloth sanitary napkins in various sizes, shapes, colours, and fabrics.
Cloth tampons in various forms such as knit or crocheted.
Sea Sponge tampons.
Menstrual Cups in various sizes, shapes, and materials.
For many years, the norm has been to purchase and use chemical-laden feminine hygiene products and then throw them away. This has created many problems for a few aspects of the planet. There's an ecological problem, all of these sanitary products go into landfills where their synthetic design prohibits breakdown as well as leeching chemicals into the ground. There's the economic problem. Let's say I spent $20 a month on tampons and pads, depending if I was postpartum or not. So I have been menstruating for about 17 years. That would bring me to around $4080 already spent on toss away products!!! If a woman tends to menstruate for 30+ years. That's close to $10,000 I will have spent!!! WHAT THE HELL!!?
However, my main focus is what I have learned that is MEDICALLY wrong with these items. What these items can do to our most delicate areas as women. There's a few reasons why disposable menstrual products are terrible ideas for the human female body.
Perhaps the most terrible reason is the use of chlorine bleach to make the materials uniformly white. Personally, I don't think I would care if my items were unevenly coloured, it isn't like they will be seen anyway! Not only does this seem like an entirely wasteful process, it also sets we females up for terrible problems internally. The bleach can leave behind a by-product called dioxin. This chemical is a known carcinogen. Why are we exposing such a delicate place and organ to such a thing?
Another well-known reason (at least about tampons) is Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). This condition occurs when a tampon is left inside for too long and bacteria grows. It is common in younger women as their bodies haven't had time to build up antibodies to this rare but potentially fatal condition. Disposable items contain fibers that are entirely too absorbent. Yes, women are advised to use a tampon with the lowest reasonable absorption to help lower the risk of TSS but every manufacturer tends to have a different absorbency level for each type (lights, regular, super etc) as there is no industry standard to adhere to. The materials used also tend to leave the vagina feeling dry and irritated. The use of natural cotton tampons help reduce the fibers left behind but still reduces the natural moisture level of the vagina. Disposable pads can contribute to rashes, infections, and burning.
On a personal note, before I realized what could be contributing to it, my menstrual cramps were horrendous. I'm talking curled up in the fetal position, move-and-I-will-barf cramps. Debilitating. I also had 20 to 23 day cycles, 10 to 12 days of which were menstruating. I probably went through about $20 a month in hygiene products. Now however, after I decided to make the switch to R.U.M.P.S. , my periods are 5 to 7 days and although my flow is still heavy (thanks to the Diva menstrual cup I know how much fluid I lose per month) I don't have to worry about running out of supplies! My cramps are still painful but not to the point of making me vomit. Big improvement and I attribute it entirely to not inserting chemicals into my body. It is not scientifically proven that using reusable feminine products reduces cramps and flow, however I do know many women that would attest to this being true for them. For me as well, rashes, irritations and things like bladder infections that always occurred for me during my period have disappeared!
WHO CAN USE RUMPS?
Anyone who menstruates can use RUMPS. Pre-teen, teen or adult, virgin or not.
Anyone who experiences bladder incontinence of any level.
Anyone who experiences excess moisture.
WHAT ARE THEY MADE OF?
Reusable menstrual products have a few different materials depending on which type of reusable you choose. Cups are typically made from either food or medical grade silicone, or a material called TPE (thermoplastic elastomers). Medical grade silicone is generally recommended over food grade as it lasts longer and is actually designed for use within the body. Menstrual cups also have a range of sizes and firmness. Knit and crocheted tampons are made from a natural fiber wool/yarn. It is not recommended to use acrylic yarn. Cloth pads and tampons are made with a variety of textile materials ranging from cotton to polyester. Cores that make up the absorbent layers range from ever absorbent Zorb to Hemp. Zorb is a specially designed fabric with incredible absorbency. It consists of tangled cellulose fibers from bamboo/cotton/viscose/poly micro fiber.
It really depends on how organic you want your pads to be. Sea sponge tampons are naturally sourced and I feel unbleached versions would be healthier. However, Sea sponge tampons have a shorter life as they naturally disintegrate through use. Cloth pads are a very popular choice among RUMP users. Perhaps it is the cute fabrics, or the incredible diversity in sizes, materials, widths, and absorbency available. Or perhaps it's having comfortable items that don't even fell like you are wearing a pad or liner!
I love that there are so many WAHM (work at home moms) turned entrepreneurs that take the time to create comfortable personalized cloth pads for each customer. No two makers are exactly alike, and I love putting money back into the economy and NOT into the pockets of companies like Playtex and Always.
WHERE CAN YOU GET THEM TOO?
RUMPS and the health of my delicate system has been my passion for a while now. Research is easy when you're interested in the topic. I would like to give credit back to the many small companies and the women who started them.
One of our faves is a Canadian company from Winnipeg Manitoba named "Tree Hugger Cloth Pads" . Their product is so great, the Dragon's Den peeps declined saying they were already on the right track. And the best part about them is they plant a tree for every pad sold. Being the change is awesome to see :)
Working our way across western Canada, another favourite from Saskatchewan is called "Homestead Emporium". This company has you all covered. They put the O in Organic and even sell hand made underwear, nursing pads, and other reusable cloths. Check out their facebook page. The website is extensive so have fun, poke around, and learn how to be a part of lowering all of our carbon footprints :)
Equally impressive are the reusables from a more local home-based business in Cambridge, Ontario called "Handmade by Alycia", this is her Etsy store. She also has a facebook page you can check out. By the sounds of things, Alycia will custom make almost any reusable you could need. She's working on new products as we speak :)
Last but not least, I'd like to introduce "Harp Diapers" from beautiful British Colombia. This is their Etsy store and their facebook page is here. You think you know what cloth diapers are in 2015? It's quite impressive. No safety pins required! Once again, like the others, INGENIOUS. Harp will custom make your items in whatever fabric your heart desires. Check her out too :)
Still others include:
"Looper's Luffs" from Newfoundland, see her facebook page here.
"Princess Flow" from Manitoba, see their facebook page and Etsy store .
"Modern Wednesday" from Alberta, see their facebook page and website.
"Empire Lush" also from Saskatchewan, see their very informative facebook page.
"Pretty Eco Intimates" from PEI, see their facebook page and website.
Let me know in the comments if you'd ever consider using RUMPS. If you already do, share your experience with us. Many voices can change even our environmental problems ... one disposable at a time :)