30—The holiest of grails...

The Menstrual Cup – part one

A big display of the various tampons and sanitary pads available in NZ

Where do all of these bloody things go?

I can’t be the only person who wonders where all the feminine hygiene products go once they’ve been recklessly abandoned — after just one use? (Either down the toilet or in the bin.) For some bizarre reason, I used to imagine my ‘flushed down’ tampons instantly resurfacing in China — in some rich Asian man’s swimming pool…

But seriously, the supermarket variety of tampons, pads, and panty liners are not biodegradable because they are made of synthetic fibres. And I think it’s safe to assume there ain’t much recycling going on down at the ‘Old Tampon Treating Plant’…

Click through for part-two of this article:
The menstrual cup (part-two)

Take me for example - I'm a 'regular' kinda gal

You’re supposed to change your tampon about every 3—4 hours during your menstrual cycle (obviously more frequently when your  blood flow is heavy)1. That’s 6—8 tampons per day. Over the years, let’s say my average period has lasted for five days. That’s 30—40 tampons per cycle. I also require two ‘night pads’ for my two heaviest days. If I take these figures and multiply them by 13 menstrual cycles per year… Then I times these figures by the length of time I’ve been menstruating…

I make my feminine hygiene contribution to landfill and the ocean (at this point) to be at least:

10,140—13,520 tampons
(The current average cost of a standard tampon is .25c)
= $2535—$3380

676 night pads
(The current average cost of a standard pad is .30c)
= $202.80

Note: there would have also been the equivalent of a couple of packets of panty liners thrown in there for good measure. And let’s not forget about ALL the plastic packaging that everything came hygienically encased in.

I’ve worked out what this has cost me, but can anyone work out what this has cost our environment?

The females of this world aren’t just contributing to landfill, we’re creating bloody mountains of waste! Not to mention the money we’re also wasting.

A selection of womens sanitary products when a menstrual cup would do
A selection of womens sanitary products when a menstrual cup would do
A selection of womens sanitary products when a menstrual cup would do
A selection of womens sanitary products when a menstrual cup would do

Don't tell me that you don't know 'Sweet Fanny Adams'!

Commercial brands of feminine hygiene products can not only irritate your ‘delicate bits’, and cause allergic reactions, but they also pose a very real health risk (and I’m not just talking about Toxic Shock Syndrome). Many health conditions stem from an insidious build-up of chemicals, rather than a one-time exposure. The mucous membranes that line your vagina are highly porous, and therefore chemicals can quickly cross into the blood stream.

Not only are commercial feminine hygiene products made of rayon, plastic, and conventionally grown cotton2 (and therefore harbour trace amounts of pesticides) these products are also:

  1. Bleached

    They contain trace amounts of dioxins

  2. Fragranced

    Deodorised + perfumed
    (Because every menstruating women wants to walk around smelling like scented ‘period pad’, right?!)

  3. Random!

    They can contain: binders, surfactants, resins, polypropylene, polyester and polyacrylic absorbents…
    And who would know what crazy chemicals are used to create these new ‘anti-fluff bases’ and ‘rapid-dry core’ technology (as seen above)? 


The Great Wall of 'Jy-na'

The feminine hygiene section at the supermarket is made-up of every shape, size, and absorbency known (and unknown) to woman-kind. Because of this bloody ridiculous explosion of tampons, panty liners and pads, it is no longer possible to send your partner or spouse on an ’emergency run’ to get you tampons. You would bleed to death before he returned3. (Remember you’re dealing with a species that struggles to find the peanut butter in the fridge or cupboard…)

Now-a-days there is a tampon, liner, and pad for every occasion:
— Your level of blood flow
— Your level of activity
— Your choice of underwear, and even
— Your ‘bloody’ mood..!

Note:  I think I’m getting old-fashioned… I thought everyone just wore standard issue ‘period undies’ at this time of the month?!

An overwhelming display of the various tampons and sanitary pads when one menstrual cup would do
The Great Wall of 'Jy-na'

There is a lot of 'disposable' income to be made...

Some of the Tampon choices 
Applicator (plastic or cardboard)
Designer series
Anti-fluff bases
Anti-slip grips
One-of-a-kind resealable wrappers
Anti-gravity Leakguard Braid
Twist-open wrappers (in 7 funky colours…)

Some of the Liner Choices
Original — Long
Barely There
Double liners
Extra Thin
Extra Absorbent
Extra Thin Hipster

...based on all this bloody choice!

Some of the Pad Choices
Ultra Thin
All Night
Good Nights
Extra Good Nights

all of the Size Choices (Hopefully)
(applicable to most products)
Slim Regular
Super Plus

Lisa says:

Forgive us females for solely thinking of ourselves.

Unsurprisingly, at this time of the month, most women are more concerned with the inconvenience, the discomfort, the pain (and obviously halting the blood flow), than they are about what happens to their tampons once they disappear from sight (whether inserted or disposed of).

However, I propose that if we weren’t always in  ‘damage control’ mode, and we actually prepared for our menstrual cycles ahead of time — we might then base our purchasing decisions on entirely different objectives. We would focus on our health, and our environment. And also on finding an option that is easier, cheaper, and more convenient.

Note: You’d be amazed by the number of women that don’t keep track of their menstrual cycle, and therefore get surprised by the arrival of their period every month! They then have to make hasty purchasing decisions based out of necessity.

A menstrual solution that all boxes should tick..? The menstrual cup!

Next week we’ll be discussing the menstrual cup. It’s a menstrual solution that is an alternative to tampons and pads. This reusable menstrual cup is made from soft medical-grade silicon, and it comes in just two sizes. It holds up to 30ml of blood, and can be left in for 12 hours before it requires emptying, washing, and reinserting.

It sounds like an excellent overall solution to everything I’ve outlined in this article, but is the menstrual cup really ‘up’ for the task? Is it worth the initial outlay (NZ$77)?  We’ll find out what current and first time users think about this device in next week’s article!

Obviously, you’ll also find out what I say about it.
As I’ve been doing a little experimenting of my own…

Click through for part-two of this article:
The menstrual cup (part-two)

We're currently making throw-away decisions about our health and our environment

Make an appointment with Lisa

Lisa Fitzgibbon is a degree qualified (2006), experienced and registered Naturopath & Medical Herbalist. She runs her own private practice – OOMPH in Grey Lynn, Auckland, New Zealand.

Lisa has been involved in the Natural Health industry for 16 years. She draws on her professional training and experience, as well as her own personal experience to bring you realistic, holistic health advice.

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