Still Using Tampons Or Pads? You Should Read This

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What is something that every woman has to endure in her lifetime? You got it, a menstruation cycle. On average a woman will have her period once a month, for about 5 days, for around 40 years of her life! During this time, we need to use various products stay clean and fresh. There has got to be a market in there!

The Tampon and Pad industry is a $718 Million dollar market, and tampons and pads are necessities. This got me questioning the production and ethical value behind these products. They are mass-produced, and heavily marketed and cheaply made, out of bleached rayon and plastics. Why is it that we never see ads for the much safer alternatives such as cotton products, reusable washable pads and menstruation cups? Any of these alternatives are much more economical and are about a gillion times safer for the environment. Up until a few months ago, I didn’t even know that there were alternative products, or even think that there was any potential risk from using generic menstruation products.

Almost all sanitary napkins and tampons are made with bleached rayon, cotton and plastics, how safe do you think that material is to be inside or very close to your Vagina? Not to mention these products leave behind fibers in your vagina that can cause bladder, vaginal infections, and Toxic Shock Syndrome. Tampons are also known to absorb the natural fluids and bacteria’s that the vagina produces to stay clean and healthy. Let’s look at the #1 ingredient in generic tampons and sanitary napkins: Rayon. Rayon is a fiber that is made from cellulose fibers, cellulose is a natural fiber, but to produce Rayon chemical procedures are needed that include: carbon disulphide, sulfuric acid, chlorine and caustic soda. Side effects from exposure to too much Rayon can include: nausea, vomiting, chest pain, headaches and many others. Rayon is not just found in tampons and pads, but a lot of clothes are made from it as well. Sanitary napkins also contain quite a bit of plastic, which does not allow sufficient air flow ‘down there’ so in turn can also cause an array of infections. Tampons and pads are also bleached using chlorine, which results in the production of dioxin, which is linked to breast cancer, endometriosis, immune system suppression and various other ailments.

 So, what are our options?

A menstrual cup is my first choice for a tampon/ pad alternative. It is a flexible silicone cup that is inserted into the vagina. Essentially this cup catches all the blood and you empty it every 12 hours during your cycle and reinsert it. I know what you are thinking… gross. That’s what I thought too; my initial thought was that this sounded so disgusting that I would never use it. I guess that changed as I researched all of the positive effects that came from using a cup. If it is properly inserted and taken out there is no reason that you should ever have to actually touch blood, but even if you do, what’s the harm? Just wash your hands, you big baby. :P It may take a few cycles to get the hang of how to use one of these cups, but once you do you will wish you had started a lot sooner! I recommend that you continue to use pads or liners until you have mastered the insertion technique, just in case. Not only will you save a lot of money using a menstruation cup, but you will be doing a huge favor to the environment as well. Think about it, If an average women uses about 17,000 pads or tampons during her entire menstruation period, x that by 3.5 billion women in the world, and yeah, you do the math…. Another great thing about using menstrual cups is that many women have reported to having less severe cramping during their period! I know that alone would encourage some women to making this change.  Some brands of menstrual cups are: ‘DivaCup,’ ‘MoonCup,’ ‘Ladycup’ and ‘Lunette,’ among many others.










There are also reusable pad products are made of safe materials that come with washable highly absorbent inserts to suit all different levels of flow. These would be a great option to women that do not like to products that you have to insert. These reusable ‘pads’ are made with safe breathable materials to keep your area healthy, and leak free! Some brands that are available today are: ‘Luna Pads,’ ‘Glad Rags,’ ‘Pleasure Puss’ and you can also make your own.


Now, if you are just not so keen on ever having to really see blood or wash your products, or don’t like these options there is another option, sit in a lake for your entire cycle. You will eventually come out very cold and wrinkled, but at least you won’t be throwing away tons of crap into the environment and you don’t have to worry about toxic chemicals being leached into your body…. Just kidding! :P OK, there is one last alternative to generic tampons and pads. There are some companies that make natural organic cotton products that do not leach chemicals, and do not leave synthetic materials behind. These can still absorb your natural fluids and they are still not the best things for the environment, but at least cotton is a more natural substance that can biodegrade much quicker and safer. Some brands of these products are: ‘Seventh Generation,’ and ‘Natracare.’

So there you have it! I hope that this article opened up your eyes to the health effects and environmental hazards that are associated with using pads and tampons, and made you reconsider what products that you are using. There are many websites that provide information with reviews on all of these products, do your research and find what’s best suited for you and your lifestyle.

If you are worried about how much fluid menstruation cups can hold in comparison to tampons and pads check out this video.

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More From 'Awareness'

CE provides a space for free thinkers to explore and discuss new, alternative information and ideas. The goal? Question everything, think differently, spread love and live a joy filled life.

  1. Hello

    This article meant well but people are just getting sick to death of being told what to do by bloggers. They are like that friend who always has “advice” over every little tiny thing you do. Annoying.

  2. Abi

    I was keen on trying a more sustainable menstrual product and bought myself a moon cup. Although the website and information leaflet said that it would not increase the pain level.. it certainly did!! I used it twice or so and never used it again. The last time I used it, the pain was utterly terrible, it was also very difficult to remove and I ended up on the floor in the shower crying in pain and trying to remove it!

    I still recommend anyone try it if they are interested but everyone is different so don’t expect the first alternative you try to be suitable for you, and also expect your own individual reactions to it.. as I mentioned the website and information leaflet had me under the impression that this would not happen.. and it did!

    • I use the Ruby Cup. I’ve used Femmecup, however it didn’t really work for me. I actually had a lot of pain when I changed late at night (around 2am in the morning). Not sure what happened, however I got all hot and fever-ish, plus a bad pain. I then took it out within 10 minutes of inserting and the pain and fever went. I now do not use any cups at night time (maybe because I was too tired when I was taking out the used one and inserting it back in again?)

      I love the Ruby Cup. Still early days as it’s a learning curve, however so far-so good :)

  3. I personally love cups………. transition for me has been life changing.
    Anyone interested in trying or purchasing, Aust based

  4. Jan

    I used a menstrual cup for a while back in the early 70s, and I loved it. I had a very heavy flow, and had no problem with them. Then all of a sudden, they were no longer available … never knew why. (Well, in retrospect, I imagine it had to do with the pad / tampon companies.) It really was the most convenient for me. I never had to worry about breakthrough, when the tampon / pad could not hold any more blood, which was constantly a concern with those products. I am certainly not saying everyone should use them – that’s a very personal decision. But I found them to be very useful.

  5. T

    Ridiculous article. Toxic shock is caused by staphylococcus aureus. NOT by rayon. And is just as much of a concern when using tampons as it is when using a cup. To imply that toxic shock is not a concern when wearing a cup is simply irresponsible.
    Women should be able to use whichever product they feel happy using and not be guilted into changing to something else by articles like these.

    • There is a greatly reduced risk of developing TSS from the use of menstrual cups. In Tampon boxes (in Canada anyways) they come with a little warning about TSS and how to properly use tampons. I am not telling any woman what she should or should not be wearing nor am I trying to “guilt” anyone into switching over to the menstrual cup. I am simply providing some information that I have found that I was surprised and glad to learn about, so at least a woman can make an informed decision on her own. If the cup isn’t for you, that’s perfectly fine. Everyone has their own preference.

      • Sarah

        Dodgy figures multiplying by 3.5 billion? Cut out all females pre-menarche or who have ceased menstruation. Then consider regions and cultures that don’t use pads or tampons. Factor in women already using cups. Then you might have closer to your number.

        • Sarah

          Also how do you arrive at 17000 tampons/pads over a lifetime? I don’t know about other people but my cycle is only active for 5 days at most. If you changed your pad/tampon 4 times a day that’s 20 per month, 240 per year. Am I menstruating for 70 years??? (I won’t even bring up early menopause) Ridiculous figures. You’re trying to sensationalize something here.

  6. sharon anderson

    Years ago I read about a new invention…..a thing like a suronge that would suck all of the blood out at the beginning of your period…sounded great to me…what happened to that…oh the people that make money off of pads and tampons would go broke…to bad for women….

  7. Carmen B.

    I agree with you about the toxicity of sticking a tampon in your vagina, but inserting a silicon cup doesn’t sound any better.

  8. using moon-cup disturbs the downward flow of the body, in ayurveda it’s called apana vata- and can cause different problems. using an organic pad or learning how to “control” your flow reathem is much better….

  9. Ibby

    Why, WHY has this turned into a debate about which uterine-blood-absorbing-product is superior? If you like pads, wear pads. If you like tampons, wear tampons. If you like cups, wear cups. There’s no one right answer and your personal preference does NOT need to be shared by everyone else! FFS, I don’t see men bitching at each other over what brand of condoms they buy!

  10. Private

    You forgot the best of them all…sea sponge; cheap, comfortable, and 100% natural (unlike menstrual cups). BTW, don’t spend a fortune on the “sponge tampons” marketed by certain companies…just buy a natural sea sponge and cut to comfort. I got 3 “large” sized sponges for $9 versus the sea pearls that run $17-25 for 2 sponges of the same size or smaller.

    • how about the virgins??? i think im a gonna stay using the pads

      • Daniela

        trust me girlfriend, a penis is much wider & harder than the cup lol the cup is flexible enough meant to fold when inserting so it should not be painful. every woman vagina is meant to be able to open wide enough to give birth to a baby! so I think virgins shall be ok.

      • Meagan

        I used the Diva cup for a couple years while I was a virgin. Just make sure you choose the smaller size. I didn’t really like it the first couple of times I used it but then I got the hang of it and I love it.

  11. dina

    I’ve used a diaphragm-like cup and it wouldn’t stay put. HUGE mess and highly uncomfortable! Also, since I cramp so bad during the first 48 hours, I don’t even like inserting tampons. I would find it highly offensive to have a woman washing out her bloody cup in a public sink next to me. I just think it’s inconsiderate to others who may use a sink to brush his/her teeth. There’s not just blood, there’s slimy tissue that can get hung up on the drain. Plus, what have you got plugging the flow when you’re at the sink washing it out? Great for those who love it though!

    • Char

      Don’t empty it down a sink! I would never even think of doing that! And after checking out their (mooncup) website there’s no need to wash it in a public sink either. I was going to suggest maybe having another one to use while washing one but after reading up on them more it doesn’t seem like you need to. Seems like a good idea to me and I’m going to give it go.

  12. I’ve tried the cup and absolutely hated it. It wouldn’t get all the way full, but it was terribly uncomfortable and would STILL regularly leak. I tried the recommended size for me and it wasn’t working — I had too poor of an experience to dish out more money to try other sizes/shapes.

    Tampons increased my cramping and were also uncomfortable — use too light of an absorbency and you have to double-up with pads anyhow, and use too heavy of an absorbency and suffer when you have to try to remove it. Agony.

    Natracare organic cotton pads are where it’s at.

    • Ashley

      I had the same issue until I realized you have to put the cup all the way to your cervix and relax as you slowly pull it down. It took some trickery but now it works perfectly :)

  13. I have family members who are using the cups, and love them. (And one of them has very difficult periods with heavy flow.) I wish I’d had them back when I was having periods. Note: they come in different sizes, so do some research on what size to get—I think some of it depends on your flow, but some may depend on your internal size, too. They publish guides on it.

    As for the using your own cotton “rag”, four points:

    1. Cold water helps remove bloodstains; if you want to wait and do them all in one load, rinse out with cold water, then put them to soak in an old-fashioned diaper pail of cold water (or any container with a lid). If you really want, you could put a little bleach in the pail to kill germs. When it’s time to wash, put on rubber gloves, wring them out, and put them in the washer. Dump the pail water down the toilet, rinse it out, and refill with fresh water and bleach.

    2. When rinsing them, if you don’t want to rinse them in the sink, keep a special bowl for that in the bathroom. Fill it with cold water, rinse, wring out the rag, then dump the water in the toilet and flush. Oh, and if blood on your hands bothers you, keep a special pair of rubber gloves in the bathroom that’s only used for this purpose.

    3. If you don’t want to use bleach, maybe try oxy-clean instead, for soaking?

    4. If you have problems with your rag shifting around, go to a medical supply store (or maybe your drug store might have it) and get a couple of the old-fashioned stretchy belts women used to wear with the old Kotex pads (hospitals still sometimes give those to women who’ve just delivered). If you don’t want to use the fasteners that come with it (pokes holes in the cloth ends), clip those off and use safety pins, or sew on velcro instead.

    • Meagan

      I am glad you mentioned reusable pads but I just wanted to add that it doesn’t have to be this complicated. I just have a little container with a lid in the bathroom and I put dirty ones in and just throw them in the washer whenever I do a load of laundry. I use Party In My Pants pads and they are really well made, thin, and super cute. I use a cup too, but if I am just at home I use pads.

      • ve

        No pad is “cute”

        • Meagan

          Okay I suppose technically it is the fabric the pads are made of that is cute. Did you check them out?

  14. Erin

    There is another option for women who aren’t trying to get pregnant… continuous birth control. We don’t need to have our periods…so don’t. I can’t stand the blood, the mess, the inconvenience, the smell, the cost, everything about having a period… so I choose not to. There are several awesome brands on the market that work great for this. I haven’t had a period in years and absolutely love it!

    • Friend

      hahahaha and you want to be healthy, good luck !

      • Mary

        Actually, it is healthier than having a cycle. Continuous birth control makes your hormone stable. Unstable hormones, like when you don’t use birth controle, that changes through the month, is very unhealthy. Losing that much blood every month is also unhealthy.

        • C

          You’re right, unstable hormones lead to more blood loss and that’s not a good thing. But there are healthier options than taking birth control that, to me, acts more like a band aid than a real fix.

    • Corine

      Well I recently went to the ogyn because I haven’t had a period n over 4 years. I was told that if you do not have periods n any case you at high risk for developing ovarian cancer in your future. You NEED to menstruate, whether you like it or not.

      • Mary

        Menstruation on birth control are fake menstruations. It means the ovary aren’t working. There is blood, but no ovum was produced by the ovaries… Also, menstruating can cause other type of cancer. It’s not black and white.

    • Caitlin

      Haha birth control Is the most unnatural and the worst thing you can do to your body!!! It is not normal or natural to not have your period! It does happen for a reason!!!! Please think twice about this for your health! You may hate the blood but it is needed!

      • Ibby

        Wow what’s with these people who think that there’s only one way you can manage your own menstrual cycle? You’d rather get knocked up and end up on a trashy TLC show? Go for it. Don’t sneer at other women who want to use birth control. I can guarantee you that childbirth/abortion is a lot worse for your body than being on the pill. “Natural” is not synonymous with “good” – cancer and coronaries are natural too.

        And I don’t know what would cause you to not have a period for 4 years but that’s a completely different health problem. When doing continuous use with the pill, you’re supposed to have a gap week every 3 months.

        • Meagan

          Read Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

    • Mary

      I do that too, but still have to have periods every 3-4 months… if I don’t, I’ll have brown spots that becomes as thick as blood…. What brand do you use?

  15. Kathryn

    Your experiment in the video would’ve been way better had you measured the liquid for all 3 and kept only one variable (your products) changing during the experiment. Its a flawed experiment. I’ll stick to tampons. Pads feel too much like diapers and cups just aren’t convienent. (I agree with others about being in public restrooms and not being able to wash it). And reusable pads too are just gross. If I have to change it while I’m out running errands, I don’t want to have to carry around a nasty, bloody, stinky (we all know how period blood just has that distinct smell) pad in my purse. There are organic tampons and cardboard applicators if you’re that worried about it. Flush and go is just a lot easier for me.

    • Lucy

      Given that you only need to empty the menstrual cup 12hrly, I only ever need to deal with it morning and night, while at home. If you are needing to change it while out, just select a bathroom that has the wash basin in with toilet, or use toilet paper to wipe it out, and wash it when next convenient. I find it much more convenient than tampons or pads!!

  16. I am talking to as many females as possible about the benefits of using reusable cloth pads. They are amazing. And coupled with a cute wet bag when I am on the go, it really couldn’t be easier!

  17. Gia-lee

    Thanks but I’ll stick to tampons. I’d rather not use the cups and have blood on my hands like I just stabbed someone. Pads make me feel like I’m wearing a diaper so, no, and I’d rather bloody vaginal pads not go in the washer with my normal clothes..

    • Ang

      Then don’t stick them in the wash with your normal clothes…wash them separately.

      • So what happens when you need to change in the middle of the day and you’re out, are you going save it in your bag. Allusions what happens when the cup needs emptying and rinsing and you’re in a public bathroom with stalls, and the sinks arent inside the stall. These things aren’t practical. Pads were designed to make things more convenient for women. These methods are for victorian women with nothing to do when the day comes so they stay in bed till it’s over.

        • Cori

          As many people have stated, you can simple wipe the cup out and reinsert. Or, if you really don’t care and you want to clean it in a public restroom than do so. There are also soft cups which i tend to replace at least once on my heaviest day. Pads/tampons might be more convenient but they are also extremely harmful to your body. So cups are a great alternative. I no longer have skin irritation because of wearing pads for so long. That in and of itself is worth using the cups for me.

        • KarenC

          I’m sorry but that’s a ridiculous comment. Obviously you have no experience with the products (yet think you know enough to comment on them??) and haven’t bothered to read any of the probably dozens of comments about how extremely convenient they are to use.

          I’ve been on vacation these past 6 days and have had my period almost the whole time. I assure you I haven’t been lying in bed waiting for it to be over! I’ve been out and about every day, all day! You only need to empty it every 12 hours so it only happened once that I felt the need to empty in a public washroom. I just emptied, wiped quickly with toilet paper and reinserted. If I’d been a bit more organized I could have wet a paper towel before entering the stall and used that.

          Cups are actually way more convenient for active women because you can literally forget about it for 12 hours. So you can go about your day and never worry about changing a tampon or pad every couple of hours!

          Pads are a bit less convenient it’s true. But it’s still doable and not that difficult at all. Just being a small wetbag for your dirties and a couple fresh pads to change. The bags are waterproof so no worries about mess, small enough to fit in the smallest purses and many have a separate compartment to store your clean pads.

        • Ashley

          I wipe it off or keep a mini-water bottle in my purse to rinse it. Where there is a will, there is a way.

    • JH

      I thought the same about cups but had a friend who said it wasn’t bad. I’ve been using it for almost a year and it really isn’t that messy at all and I don’t hate my periods anymore. I usually forget I’m even on them.

    • Ashley

      They have natural sponge tampons. And it’s kind of sad that you are so deterred by your body’s natural fluids. You can wash your hands after.

  18. christine

    Oh good, I have been waiting for an article like this one to reappear… What i cannot for the life of me understand is why so many, almost everyone (I refer to women here, given the topic), in the industrial world is so brainwashed and so consumerism-addicted that they can’t even see how simple it is to JUST USE A RAG!!
    I admit, i had thought little of it for years, too. A roommate of years ago was using cotton cloth (same as is used for cloth diapers – duh), and she was always content with that (as content as one can be while “on the rag”), in any case she never complained, and also never preached (as I’m doing, now). It bothered me a lot that I was using single-use plastic countless time, every month, and that plastic was in intimate contact with my skin. Only about a year ago did It occur to me, that I my search for plastic-free women’s hygiene products was not futile after all! Frugality is an obvious factor. The plastic-free pads were great, but expensive. I had to find a better solution. So, one day, I was sorting laundry, had an older worn out terrycloth towel that needed to be retired, and it hit me. I cut it up into squares (there was not waste). I carry an inconspicous small bag inside my handbag, when i’m on the go, and simply rinse the cloths any time i take a bathroom break. At home, I rinse them and hang them on the back row of the towel rack (ours is attached to the wall over the tub, and accordions out with a simple pull), to spare my kids the unsightly stains. Later, when I’m more or less back in the clear, I throw all the cloths together with other stuff in the washing machine, dry and fold them away for the next month. And these days it costs me, each and every month, NOT ONE SINGLE PENNY. Go figure.

  19. Why aren’t there different sizes of cups? I can’t use them- they are way too uncomfortable and don’t fit.

    • Karen.

      There are indeed a great deal of various sizes and shapes. The Diva Cup is the only one I’m familiar with and it has two sizes (one for before pregnancy and before the age of 30 and then one for after pregnancy and/or past the age of 30. Many other cups have different sizing and are known to have different shapes. Some are also softer than others (I’ve read that the Diva Cup, for example, is a rather stiff one). I think some have posted links in the comments here but I’ve heard of sites that have comparison charts of each brand and its sizing.

  20. I love witnessing women wake up to the toxic marketing and embracing their moon! Thanks!

    • Eileen

      You comment about India, they are makng sanitary pads not cloth or renewable or sustainable materials, more garbage!!!

  21. Juliana

    Such great insight, for me the hardest part of my period, since I’m a bit irregular is being prepared / having product on hand. That’s why I’ve been using . Now I don’t have to worry about it sneaking up on me. They don’t have organic options or cups yet, but for me it’s a lifesaver and once step closer to a better period in general

  22. Chrissy

    I’m super surprised that not in any of my health classes (or even my environmental class) have we covered this! Though I still have questions, like: how comfortable is the cup; where would you wash the cup (doesn’t seem sanitary in the sink); what do you do in public restrooms; and is the cup one-size-fit all?

    • Ashley

      There are multiple brands/sizes/shapes of cups. Most have two sizes, a few are supposed to be “one size fits most”. Comfort is dependent on your body. I could never use tampons comfortably but can comfortably use a variety of cups! Generally softer is better for comfort. :) Length is a HUGE factor that needs taken into consideration, however. If you get a cup that’s too long for you, of course it won’t be comfy! Shape can also play into the comfort factor. I like v-shaped cups because I feel u shaped ones cause too much pressure, but it varies from person to person! Washing: If you’d rather not empty/wash in a sink, you can empty/wash in the shower or tub, or have a spray/water bottle with you to spray and wipe out/down your cup between changes. I wash in the sink. Think: If you cut open your foot while barefoot in the backyard, would you rinse your foot in your sink? Still your blood, just comes from a different part of your body and at a certain point in the month. Seems weird to think about since we think it’s such a gross concept, but blood is blood no matter where it’s coming from! :)

    • Margie

      You don’t feel the cup at all. I’ve used one for 5 years. I’ll never go back to tampons. I no longer have the awful cramps that I use to.

    • Sandra

      I’ll just add a thing; when you empty it and wash it, it’s easier in the sink, but after the period is over you should boil it in hot water to sanitize it.

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